Rosé wine has become the summertime drink of choice not only in France but around the world. Walk through the wine aisles of any French grocery store or wine boutique and you’ll find numerous bottles of rosé in a wide range of price points. It’s no wonder, rosé is easy to drink and pairs beautifully as an apéro and with the light summer dishes we love to prepare.
The Provence region of France holds the number one spot in the production of French rosé with almost 90% of the vines in the region dedicated to this wine. The pink wine can be traced back to the Greeks who planted vines in Provence 2600 years ago. Since wine-making techniques were very different back then (maceration was unknown), the red wine of the Greeks was actually rose.
Rosé wines from Provence range from a very light peach hue to a darker red currant color.
Contrary to (fading) popular opinion- rosé is not made by combining red and white wines. The main grape varieties used in rose wines from Côtes de Provence, Les Baux de Provence and Côtes du Rhône are Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Tibouren. Each region also uses secondary grape varieties according to AOP/AOC classifications.
Regardless of grape varieties, the best way to select your favorite rosé wine is through tasting. Many wineries in each of the rosé regions welcome visitors for tours and tastings. The smaller wineries discussed below also offer and/or participate in special events which allow visitors to extend their visits beyond tastings.
Domaine les Perpetus is a small, family owned and run winery that dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. Located on the edge of the Parc Naturel du Luberon, the family welcomes visitors (reservations appreciated) to tour the vines and olive groves with tastings to follow. The Domaine hosts periodic special events including concerts, “afterworks” Tuesday evening tastings accompanied by nibbles, and festive meals. Check the website for the schedule of events.
Chateau d’Aqueria’s 3rd generation vintners produces a lovely ruby red Tavel with spicy aromas of red and white fruit. The domaine hosts an artisan’s market every Wednesday in July on its 93 hectare grounds.
American wine shops, which used to carry a few dusty bottles (does anyone remember Lancer’s and Mateus?) now dedicate prominent shelf space to high quality rosé from Provence. Although some bottles can command prices upwards of $75, you really don’t need to spend a fortune to find a crisp and delicious rosé. There are many good choices in the $15 -$25 range including the widely available and easy to drink rosés from Domaine Mirabeau seen above.
Wondering how to pronounce all these wine areas, classifications and grapes? WineWhisper is a free app available for IOS which provides the correct pronunciation for all French wine growing regions, over 100 grape varieties and over 700 crus and grands crus.