USA ‘El Dorado’ for rosé, says Provençal producer

The US is the fastest-growing and most profitable market for Provençal rosé at the moment, according to Julian Faulkner from Provence’s Le Grand Cros.

Le Grand Cros Provence

Le Grand Cros in Provence

“The US is the best market for us and for everyone [in Provence],” said Faulkner, during a discussion and tasting with the drinks business last month, before stating, “The US is the El Dorado at the moment.”

Pointing out that not only is the country a “big market” in terms of wine drinkers, but also that there is a willingness to pay higher prices for Provençal rosé compared to Europe.

“In the US, people are willing to pay over $10 a bottle for rosé, unlike a country such as Germany, where they are so stingy,” he observed.

As for why the US is currently demanding Provençal rosé, Faulkner said that the category was benefitting from an upmarket image, as well as celebrity endorsement following the acquisition of Château Miraval by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in 2008 – a Provençal estate that came with extensive vineyards and, it is reputed, a US$55 million price tag.

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Le Grand Cros Aurelia

Le Grand Cros produces a top end rosé called Aurelia

“I think Brangelina and Miraval has had an impact, and Provençal rosé is aspirational,” he commented, mentioning the luxury connection between the pink drink and smart French riviera towns such as Saint-Tropez.

However, when asked about a growing trend of drinking Provençal rose over ice in southern France, he expressed his dislike for the development.

“I don’t think mixing ice and Provençal rosé is good for the image of Provence, and it’s a waste of good rosé,” he said.

According to data trackers Nielsen, sales of rosé in the US between 2015 and 2016 increased by more than 17% in volume and almost 42% in value, reflecting a move upmarket for the drink, primarily driven by pricy Provençal rosés such as Château Miraval or the range from Château d’Esclans, which includes Garrus – a barrel-aged rosé costing $100 a bottle.

Supporting such a trend, the August edition of US publication Wine Business Monthly showed that the ‘blended rosé’ category, which is primarily made up of pink wines from Provence, has grown by more than 48% in the past 52 weeks.

This highlights a shift in the US away from sweet, varietally-labelled pink wines, particularly the ‘blush’ rosés based on White Zinfandel or White Grenache which tend to come with around 10% abv and more than 20 g/l of residual sugar.

Looking back to the 12 month period between 2014 and 2015, Wines of Provence recorded a rise of almost 60% in wine exports to the US. Meanwhile, Hamptons Magazine has recorded the rise of pink wine among the rich in the east coast of the US, describing rosé as “the most-sipped summer quencher on the East End [of Long Island].”


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