Under the sun-dappled skies of Provence, rosé is the carefree wine that you are preconditioned to order and enjoy. At first sip, everyone approves of whatever rosé is poured into his or her glass. This is a nearly universal phenomena: a happy drink suspending any critical judgment. No inspection. No swilling. At posh vernissages in the Luberon during the summer season, guests cheerfully sip rosé poured from glass carafes filled from a bag-in-box (behind a curtain, mind you) of a local cooperative.
Rosé is also a form of wine cellar insurance. Rather than crack open expensive wines in your cellar, serving rosé at drinks parties or at casual dinners preserves your better bottles.
Now, here is a tidbit that will impress most wine enthusiasts in Provence and even most of the wine growers: the Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé (web site), located in the department of the Var, documented all the nuanced colors of rosé in the region, and then enlisted a tasting panel of experts to attach appropriate adjectives to the range of colors (pictured above).
The nine typical colors of rosé identified by the experts are:
Groseille: red currant
Pelure d’oignon: onion skin
Bois de rose: rosewood
Marbre rose: pink marble
The grenache grape grown predominately in the Southern Rhone is ideal for producing rosé as it is relatively low in both pigment and malic acid. Rosé wine in France is produced with red grapes only, and cannot legally be made by blending red and white wines.
The surging popularity of rosé has boosted its yearly share of production in the AOC Ventoux to 29%, up from 23% a few years ago. An incentive of rosé production is cash flow: : rosés are sold within a year of harvest. Estate-bottled rosé is expanding. Even Phillipe Gimel of Saint Jean du Barroux produced his first rosé this year.
The Tavel AOC, located next to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, produces powerhouse rosés of the Southern Rhone that have strong notes of cherry fruit and intense red hues. They are pricey. Chateau D’Aqueria is one Tavel of consistent quality. The best bargains for rosés are found at wine cooperatives that pop up everywhere in the Vaucluse. There are thirteen alone in the AOC Ventoux. Here is one quality producer and one cooperative to note:
Domaine le Van, Bedoin
The Domaine le Van harvests grapes with headlamps during the night to preserve the freshness of the fruit. The result is one of the driest and most sublime rosés produced in the region. A great price / quality ratio at 7.5€ a bottle. Make the trip now as the entire vintage of rosé is sold out by the end of summer.
Route de Carpentras, Bedoin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 04 90 12 82 56. Wine cellar open Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Cave de Bonnieux, Bonnieux: Rosé in bottles or bag-in-box
Directions: N36 from N100, direction south towards Bonnieux 300 yards on the left. Coming from Bonnieux on N36, on the right after 4KM. Tel: 04-90-75-80-03; website
Read this: Why American rosés suck