Fly the flag for French rosé on this holiday
When you raise your glass of French rosé today, thank your fellow wine lovers for making that happen. Pourquoi? Because the category’s popularity stateside is almost nearly due to consumer demand.
“Rosé consumption in the U.S. is so fascinating because it’s one of the only wine categories where the consumer introduced retailers and gatekeepers to the wines after experiencing them while vacationing in St. Tropez and other parts of southern France,” says Michelle Waleck, North American business development manager for Château Minuty.
Today, the United States is the second largest rosé consumer market in the world, increasing national consumption by 45% in the past 10 years according to Wines of Provence, a marketing agency that promotes three appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. The 170 million bottles produced by the agency’s members (wineries and merchants) account for 38% of domestic and 4.2% of global rosé production.
Provence’s skyrocket has been so high, it’s inspired producers all over the globe to jump on the pink bandwagon.
“The success of rosé has meant that about every wine producer on the planet introduced one recently regardless of whether their vineyards were suitable or the winemaking had an interesting point of view,” says Charles Bieler, who, with his father, owns Bieler Pere et Fils in Provence. Because Provence’s climate is natural to the style of wine, which is the standard bearer for the category, Bieler says it will “never lose its edge and appeal.”
“Provence is the homeland for rosé and set the standard for how it should be grown, made and taste, it will remain the cornerstone of the category,” he said.
While Provence sets the standard, sommeliers are finding other French pinks are garnering interest from wine lovers. Carrie Lyn Strong, owner of Strong Wine Consulting, said she poured six rosés by the glass each summer as Aureole’s wine director, and noted, “It was surprising for guests to see how vast the styles were coming from well-known but small regions.”
She called out Loire Valley—especially Chinon, where “producers are bringing out the vibrant, red fruit out of Cabernet Franc, making complex, fresh rosés” and those from Sancerre made with Pinot Noir, with expressions “leaning more to delicate, flinty and savory.”
Strong also named Bordeaux as “an untapped category with a color wheel of styles using all of the red grape varieties available” ranging from light and refreshing to medium bodied and savory to an “almost full-bodied expression with intense color and enticing black fruit.” The range, she said, allows “historic producers to share their rosé wines in an accessible way.”
Toulouse native André Compeyre, who is the chief sommelier and manager at Aldo Sohm Wine Bar in midtown Manhattan, said he used to present guests with a “Carte des Vins du Soleil”—a menu of 150 “wines of the sun” produced along the Mediterranean coast
“I learned [each] rosé has its own identity,” he said. A fan of the category, long before its explosive growth in the U.S., Compeyre said over the years, its popularity means he has to fill his orders in January to ensure his usual summer supply.
More recently, he says, “I pour my rosé from a magnum or bigger format and guests are turned on—like kids in a candy store.”
With all the variety, he says, “Today, you can be curious with a very reasonable budget—from deeper in the southwest of France (Bergerac, Fronton, Gaillac) to Roussillon and Languedoc.
“The truth is I could recommend you a different rosé to try every single day of the year,” he said.
So, without further ado/adieu, here are a few to try whether you’re on land or at sea.
PROVENCE 101: Les Classiques
Bieler Per et Fils “Sabine” 2019, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. Strawberry and wild raspberry give this a crisp profile, along with some juicy peachiness The medium body makes this a classic Provence food wine. We had it with garlic shrimp and pasta and a fresh country breeze, but a screw cap means take it to go! $14.99
Chateau Beaulieu 2019, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. Red berry flavors with deeper than usual fruit. A little herbal with an earthy aspect. Good wine with ricotta and zucchini mini pizzas. $20
Chateau des Ferrages “Roumery” 2019, Cotes de Provence. Copper-penny pink. A slightly heavier style expressing strawberry compote and bread dough and lifted by some tangerine notes. Creamy textured, terrific with burrata and tomato salad. $16
Les Quatres Tours “Classique” 2019, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. Classic Provencal wine with its onionskin hue and flavors of young strawberries, tart wild raspberry. Nice pink grapefruit snap. Though heavy handed on the alcohol at 14.1%, its high acid provides a fresh sea-breezy zip. $18
Maitres Vignerons de la Presque Ile de St Tropez “Fleur de Mer” 2019, Cotes de Provence. Coral pink color, with cooked strawberry compote notes that follow through on the palate. Medium-bodied creaminess, good with charcuterie, grilled tuna, soft cheeses. Price n/a
Cotes de Provence Rosé “Les Hauts du Luc” La Bernarde 2019. Take five [grapes]! Driven by Cinsault with help from the classic GSM blend and a little Rolle (Vermentino) thrown in for a lift on the palate. High-altitude vineyards and stony soils give this a sharp edge, laced with fresh red berries, cherries and an herbal overlay. $16.99
Bergerie de L’Hortus 2018, Pic Saint Loupe DOC. New copper-penny pink, at first tasting, the berries jumped out of the glass and on the second tasting it had settled into a strawberry compote aspect with a botanic edge. Not as bright and fresh as its white sister. $18
Chateau de Montgueret, Rosé d’Anjou 2019, Loire Valley. Bright pink, with strawberries and raspberries jumping out of the glass. Fruit-punch fresh with some watermelon tang. Good warm up to pizza. 70% Grolleau / 30% Gamay. At 11%, you can (and should) drink all day. $13
Domaine Sylvain Bailly “La Louee” 2019, Sancerre DOC. If I were blind tasting this, I’d guess Sancerre based on the sharp grapefruit and gooseberry nose. Super zippy acid, crisp and snappy. $20
L’Effect Papillon Grenache Noir 2019, IGP Cotes Catalanes. Super-pale copper pink, wild raspberry and brambly, evoking the wild area from which it comes. Light in color but more substantial in depth with cooked strawberry rhubarb flavor. $11
Marine du Bard, Couer du Mont “Le Rose” 2019, Vin de France. The red fruits on this (70% Cabernet, 30% Merlot) are mouth filling and tongue coating (think candy dish), making this a good wine for the grill. At 14.2% alcohol, it’s a tad too high to drink with cheddar cheese puffs as we did. But, darn, that was a good pairing. $13.99
Thibaud Boudignon Rosé de Loire. Driven by Cabernet Franc (80%), this is a shining example of both the grape’s versatility and Loire Valley as rosé’s second spiritual home. Cherry-red fruit, a bit of earthiness, strong mineral/saline character, the remainder is 20% Grolleau. $19.99