If ever a wine’s colour reflected its landscape, that wine would be an onion skin pink and the rocky landscape would be Provence, especially in the setting of its rosy sunsets.
Located in the south-eastern corner of France, hugging the Mediterranean coast and neighbouring Italy. This French Riviera has been the winter retreat of the rich and the royal for well over a century, followed in later decades by iconic artists who captured on canvas the almost tangible light, and more recently by celebs and the famous. Palaces and villas vied for the most spectacular sea views on the rocky coastline.
Provencal Rosé has arguably more body and fruit than the local white wines and are often more refreshingly crisp than the rich red wines. Rosé wines in general have been struggling to define their own identity for some time. Dismissed by wine purists as either too pale to be really red or too blushing to be a true white. In recent years, rosé wines have asserted their difference from white and red wines; they are neither a variation of one nor a parody of the other. They are purely pink.
Tourist magnet towns at Nice, Saint-Tropez, Cannes and Antibes all add to the insatiable thirst for local Provencal rosé wines, putting prices in the high, premium and sometimes super-premium category.
Popularity in the past led to practices that were not always quality focused. Faults were forgiven or hidden by the super chill of the ice bucket. Today, standards have improved consistently as a reflection of wine standards globally, greater competition and more informed and experienced international wine drinkers.
Organically grown grapes (biologique) are increasing in practice. The Mediterranean’s warm and moist sea breezes moderate the cold drying influence of the notorious Mistral wind that blows from the north. The Mistral ensures that the vineyards are free of any mildew, odium or rot-related diseases caused by rain. As a result, vines are not stressed and this is reflected in the better balance of the wine as it retains freshness and a fruity character
How it’s made
The attractive pale onionskin or salmon pink colour of a rosé wine in general is created by leaving the fermenting colourless grape juice in contact with the black skins for 12 to 36 hours maximum to stain the juice and put a little blush in the wine’s complexion. In Provence the main black grapes used for rosé wines are Grenache (Garnacha), Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz), Mourvedre and Rolle.
The French Food Connection
Provence’s rosés are delicious chilled as an aperitif or with a very wide range of food: hard cheeses, pizzas, fish and shellfish, white meats, hams, salamis, spicy dishes, vegetarian and tomato based meals. When dining out, a young rosé is a reliable and versatile choice to match the medley of everyone’s food choices.
Blend in with the locals
Jeans, either white or blue with a navy blazer and a red or blue horizontally striped tee-shirt with designer sunglasses. Socks are never optional. Blatant staring is regarded as a form of unspoken flattery. Converting Oscar Wilde’s: “There is only one thing worse than being stared at, and that is not being stared at.”
13.5% ABV – Côtes de Provence
€24.99 – Available in at Fresh, The Corkscrew, Whelehan’s, Donnybrook Fair, Jus De Vin, On The Grapevine and Terroirs
From the stable of one of the most thoroughbred producers of Provencal rosé, Domaine Ott. Focused and precise palate highlighting terroir in a glass. Fuller bodied than most and rich flavours with a hint of austerity and mineral salinity.
Food friend: lunch with a platter of charcuterie and a crunchy salad of ribbon-thin green and yellow courgettes, fennel and dressed in lemon juice.
Château Miraval 2016
13% ABV – Côtes de Provence
€29.99 – Available in Dublin at Fresh, Green Man Wines, Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Mitchell & Son, Terroirs, The Corkscrew, and Thomas’s
Chateau Miraval is located in Correns, France’s first 100% organic village where all crops are grown organically. The skilled fingerprints of winemaker, Marc Perrin are all over this collaboration with Hollywood’s Angelina and Brad. The palate gives a star performance in balance and elegance. A silky texture interwoven with integrated acidity, highlighted by refreshing redcurrant fruits and nectarine flesh, juicy and seductive.
Food friend: treat yourself to lobster and linguine.
Chateau Vignelaure La Source 2016
13% ABV – Côteaux d’Aix en Provence
€17.99 – Available at Jus de Vine, The Corkscrew and jnwine.com
Surprising but attractive butter toffee and caramel aromas. Powerful entry on the palate of red berries, mouth-watering acidity and a zesty orange finish.
Food friend: go native with a bouillabaisse and enrich the garlicky fish stew with a piquant rouille.
Chateau Beaulieu Cuvée Alexandre 2016
12% ABV – Côteaux d’Aix en Provence
€21.99 – Available at Kelly`s Off Licence and The Corkscrew
Made from vines grown in an ancient volcanic crater. Concentrated flavours with pronounced salty minerality and lively acidity. Finishes with a tangy raspberry sorbet.
Food friend: perfect with a pizza topped with anchovies, olives and artichoke hearts.
Domaine d’Eole 2016
13% aBV – Côteaux d’Aix en Provence (Vin Biologique)
€19.95 – Available at Whelehan Wines, Silver Tassie
Scents of rose-perfumed talcum powder. Raspberry and cranberry fruity freshness with crisp acidity. Mineral mid-palate and a pink grapefruit zesty finish.
Food friend: partner with a carpaccio of beef, drizzled with olive oil, rocket and Parmesan shavings.
Chateau Riotor R Rosé 2016
13% ABV – Côtes de Provence
€17.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine nationwide (on offer buy-one-get-one-free all summer long)
Very tasty and bone dry – red fruit skins dusted with chalk and an attractive bitterness on the finish.
Food friend: serve with prawns, chilli and noodles with an oriental accent of star anise.
Liam Campbell is one of Ireland’s most experienced wine writers. His work has been featured in the pages of numerous publications, most recently as the Wine & Drinks Editor for The Irish Independent, as well as in Irish Homes, Easy Food and The Dubliner magazines.
Besides writing, his involvement in the world of wine goes deeper: he’s an approved WSET educator and holder of a WSET Diploma, Diploma in Craft Beer & Cider, and he has worked as judge in international wine competitions and as a wine consultant.