Feature Coverage

Provence in The City: My Glass Runneth Over With Rosé

“With the popularity of rosé wines from Provence continuing to skyrocket, let it be known that I have been drinking this pale, dry elixir long before it became trendy. Having been introduced to Provence rosé on our first trip to this region—the largest and oldest wine-producing region in France—we came home with a thirst for more. Thankfully, we had tucked a few bottles in our carry-on—you could still do this in the mid-nineties—because, aside from a Domaines Ott and Tempier here and there, there was nary a bottle to be found this side of the big pond. And on both sides of the pond, there was a lot of bad rosé. Since then, rosé has come a long way.

“Last Monday, I attended the eighth annual ‘Provence in the City’ rosé tasting. Located in various metropolitan centers across the country each year, I went to the event in Boston. About 35 people (including moi) attended a MasterClass and tasting and, later, about 100 people (including moi) attended the Walk-Around tasting, both events located in the stylish Hotel Commonwealth and Island Creek Oyster Bar. …

“… While the popularity of Provence rosé has grown steadily in the U.S., as mentioned above, the past few years have seen truly remarkable growth. From January 2015 to January 2016, Provence rosé imports to this country have grown 58% on volume and 74% on value, not including on-premise bars and restaurants (which comprise 20% of the market) or small independent retailers (all to say growth figures may be much higher). Provence rosé makes up 29.7% of all imported rosé sold in American retail stores by volume and 42.9% by value. …

The MasterClass and Tasting
“Eric Dufavet, Director of CIVP/Provence Wine Council, and Cécile Garcia, Export Manager at CIVP/Provence Wine Council, regaled us with facts and figures about the explosive growth of Provence rosé around the globe, the state of the world market, and the ‘mosaic of terroirs and climates’ that contribute to the nuanced tastes of Provence’s rosés across the region—the highlights of which I have included throughout this article.  All the while, the line-up of rosés was also tugging at my attention.

“The rosés in front of me were, all but one, the palest of pale pink. The fifth rosé in the line-up was slightly more salmon-colored. Because the pale colors of Provence rosé are such a significant part of its identity, The Center for Rosé Research has devoted a lot of attention to this subject. They have identified over 100 colors of rosé although Provence rosés generally range from very pale pink to salmon in color. Interestingly, since 2004 when the Center began collecting data, rosés from outside of Provence—in other French regions, including Tavel, and in other countries around the globe—are getting lighter (a subject I wrote about in an earlier post). …

“… Château Gassier 946 Grand Vin (2014) Rosé, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Rolle from the Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire appellation, was the outlier in this group of rosés. A denser shade of pink with salmon hues, a more savory nose of nutty caramel, a smooth palate that suggested flowers and toasted vanilla, a little time in (Austrian) wood, and a suggested price tag of $49 that was more than double the price of all of the earlier rosés (and more than quadrupled two of them). This well-structured rosé was distinctive in every way—most unrosé-like—and grew more intriguing as it opened up; it begs to be accompanied by food. It is made to be part of the prestige rosé group. …

Walk-Around Tasting
“… About 25 estates were represented in this part of the tasting, a fraction of the 582 producers who are members of the Provence Wine Council. About 65 wines awaited us, a daunting number that not even I could begin to cover. Fortunately, I also have some input from PWZ contributing writer Jill Barth who attended the same tasting in Chicago the next day as well as husband/photographer Towny Manfull and Robin Lurie-Meyerkopf who co-owns a small wine store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, both of whom attended the Boston tasting. Still, by necessity, the following notes are but highlights of the 2016 Provence in the City tasting. (I have included U.S. retail prices when available.)

“With few exceptions, all the rosés sampled were from the most recent vintage; that is, made from those grapes harvested in 2015. Exceptions would include those that were aged; for example, the aforementioned Château Gassier 946 Grand Vin (2014) and Château d’Esclans’ Les Clans and Garrus (both 2014). …”

Susan Manfull, March 2, 2016
Provence in The City: My Glass Runneth Over With Rosé