The invitation read, “Rendezvous in Provence…. meet the producers, sample the current releases with a matched pique-nique banquet and participate in an exclusive Provence Masterclass”. How could we say no?
Rendezvous in Provence brought to Australia sixteen wine producers to promote the region’s finest export – Rosé. At the Masterclass we not only tasted exquisite wine we learned more about this sun blessed region. We spoke with many producers and taste their exceptional wines.
Rosé is having a moment. Since 2008 French Rosé has outsold white wine in France. There has been a 30% global growth in Rosé consumption with France producing 31% of the world’s delicious pink wine.
A little history …
Dating back to 600BC when the seafaring Phoceans (Turkey) brought the first vines to Massalia – Marseille. So began the French wine industry. The wine they made was pale as production in that time was simply harvest, crush and let the juice ferment. No skin contact resulted in pale wine – the drink of the rich and powerful.
Under the Romans Massalia became Massiilia and as it was the first Roman province, the region naturally became known as Provence. After the Fall, Rosé remained popular and when Pope Clement moved the Papacy from Rome to Avignon, he and subsequent Popes did like the pale, fragrant, crisp wine. And what the Popes liked – everyone liked.
Provence Rosé today …
Despite the vagaries of fashion what might be Europe’s oldest wine is here to stay. The ideal terroir of limestone-clay and crystalline Massif along with cool Mediterranean breezes and warm sun-filled days means that 89% of Provence is dedicated to Rosé production. Provence Rosé is pale in colour, fruity (but in a good way) and delicately balances acidity and sugar.
History shows. Grapes are picked at the ideal maturation to make Rosé not red wine; this is essential to ensure the balanced fruit and acidity for which Provence Rosés are famous.
But the marketing of pink wine has been its own worst enemy. Consistently marketed as ‘drink by the pool, or at the beach’ with nary a mention of winemakers, technique, cépage* or terroir.
The very food friendly wine is often underestimated, or shunned by the serious wine fraternity. Some say if it can’t be aged it can’t be worthy; we do like rosé because of its freshness.
The producers said that for the French at least it is no longer simply about refreshment. As wine drinkers seek out dryer, paler rosés it is the winemakers of Provence who are undoubtedly leading the way.
There are 3 major appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. (These are divided into 9-sub appellations). Here 562 growers produce 176 million bottles of wine annually.
Provence AOP Rosé is by law always a blend of at least 2 red varietals – most commonly Syrah and Grenache with Cinsault, Mourvedre, Tibouren, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon working backup.
Peter Scudamore-Smith joined in at the Masterclass and guided us through tasting three predominantly Grenache wines: Chateau Roquefeuille La Combe, Chateau Saint Julien and Chateau Paradis Terre de Anges. These Rosés represent the best of of the region – rich yet subtle, dry but with more than a hint of fruitiness.
Although we always like to promote Australian wine sometimes, just sometimes we must recognise that others might be doing it better. For the time being it is the Rosés of Provence that lead the world. Rosé suits our climate and the food we like to eat. Some experts might not take it seriously. But when it comes to wine how serious do we need to be? http://www.vinsdeprovence.com/en/
*Cépage: The percentage of each variety of grapes in the composition of a blended wine.