The Future is Rosé
Jane Masters MW is Opimian’s Master of Wine
Rosé’s popularity is endless. Wine consumers around the world are filling their boots with demand for rosé, which is higher than the supply. Producers are responding by launching new rosés at all quality levels, from the cheap and cheerful up to more interesting, ultra-premium wines.
The last time I wrote about rosé wines for Opimian in May 2019, this trend had already been going for some years. Covid, it seems, has amplified it even more. A glass of rosé was the must-have drink for virtual drinks over Zoom for many! Covid aside, increasing numbers of celebrities, film stars, fashion designers and rappers have declared their love for rosé.
France is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of rosé with the southern region of Provence the benchmark for quality. 90% of wines produced in Provence are rosé, but neighbouring Languedoc is also shifting its focus to produce more premium rosés to sit alongside its affordable quaffable pinks. At Opimian, this Cellar has a selection of twelve rosés from southern France, Corsica and the Loire. Included in the selection are wines from two newly introduced estates: Domaine Tour Campanets in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, north of Aix-en-Provence, where Emmanuelle Baude makes three qualities of rosé; and Domaine Dupuy de Lome in Bandol close to the Mediterranean Sea with wines made by Laurence Minard. Both make wine from organically farmed grapes from varieties such as Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.
But rosé goes beyond southern France. Bordeaux rosés produced from Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have a more leafy character than Provence wines, which complement red fruit aromas. Our friend Martin Krajewski has been making quality rosé in Bordeaux for years. While the Bordeaux region has a history of making rosé, Martin was the first person to make it in the Saint-Émilion area at Clos Cantenac, launching L’Exuberance several years ago. It was so good, and the interest was so high, that he and his daughter Charlotte introduced the ultra-premium Elegance from the 2020 vintage – a wine with fine silky texture completely in keeping with its name.
The trend does not stop with still rosé wines. Champagne and sparkling rosé are gaining in popularity too. Rosé champagne represents only a small (5%) proportion of production, but demand has skyrocketed in recent times. And Prosecco, which itself has seen exponential demand in the last decade, making it the world’s best-selling fizz, was until recently restricted to white sparkling wines made from the Glera grape. That all changed last harvest when DOC Prosecco regulations were amended in 2020 to make provision for rosé Prosecco with the addition of 10-15% of Pinot Noir grown in the region. Carlo Alberto at Zucchetto estate in Valdobbiadene’s first attempt is a delight. Industry experts are even predicting a shortage of rosé Prosecco this year!
Rosé wines can vary in style from the palest, almost imperceptibly coloured, to deep pink bordering on light red wines. Rosés can be light, fruity and frivolous or rich and weighty. Some producers add texture and flavour using oak. Modern styles tend to be dry, although rosé from the Loire valley and Zinfandels from California often have some sweetness. Rosés are generally best drunk when fresh and chilled. A word of caution: many are sold in clear glass bottles, which we call “flint” in the trade. The colour of the wine is so attractive, producers want to show it off. Sadly however, clear glass offers no protection from UV light, making the wines sensitive to becoming “lightstruck” and developing off, vegetal aromas. Steer clear of buying rosé bottles that have been sitting on store shelves and keep your wines at home wrapped or in a dark place in order for them to be in tip top shape when you drink them.