The rosé revolution

The days of dismissing rosé as a mere summer flirtation are over. As producers and consumers realise the depth of flavour and sheer quality of the wines on offer, the power of pink will only become stronger, writes Lauren Eads.

Feature findings

> Rosé has traditionally had a reputation for being fun and fruity; a perfect summer drink. But now many brands are stressing the high quality of their wines.
> In 2017, exports of Provence wines surged, exceeding 54m bottles and achieving volume growth of 36%, with its value reaching €240m.
> The hotbed for rosé is Provence, and winemakers in the Langeudoc, Rhône, Loire and Bordeaux are changing the style of their rosés to match the expectations of the market.
> One of the biggest challenges for rosé is encouraging consumption outside of the summer months, while also exploring and proving its potential to age. The lack of men in the category is worth noting, with producers keen to broaden its appeal to a wider demographic.

Rosé has always been – more emphatically than its red or white counterparts – a style that oozes fun and frivolity. Invariably light and easy drinking, regardless of its colour, with fresh fruits to the fore, this style has become a staple serve at sun-soaked coastal resorts, summer terraces and on long hot evenings.

It’s lapped up by the magnum at five-star beach clubs and quaffed by the carafe in humble bistros the world over. Indeed, its reputation as a wine not to be taken seriously is exactly what has endeared it to a legion of typically younger consumers, who, generally speaking, are less interested in the juice itself than its easy-drinking attributes and the lifestyle statement it carries. Take Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Château Miraval rosé from Côtes de Provence.

A serious wine, its success has been driven first and foremost by its famous owners, resulting in a further ripple in demand for pale pink expressions. You only have to poke your head into any number of beach clubs on the French Riviera to appreciate the popularity of rosé, served poolside in striking or large-format bottles. This image-conscious side of rosé has played a crucial role in its global success, and producers have embraced its reputation as an approachable, quaffable wine with gusto. But do quality perceptions suffer, or perhaps snobbery thrive, as a result? Not necessarily.

Take Provençal brands like Château D’Esclans’ Garrus and Whispering Angel, both of which have captured the attention and devotion of consumers with their elegant bottles and pale pink colour, while also delivering a stand out quality wine, with wellintegrated oak in Garrus giving a extra layer of complexity. But it’s a fine line. Such a tightrope hasn’t hampered sales. Globally, volumes of rosé have been growing since 2011, according to Vinexpo’s 2018 report, increasing from 223m nine-litre cases in 2011 to 237m in 2016.

They are predicted to rise further, to 252m by 2020. Nevertheless, rosé only accounts for just 10.1% of the global market (a figure predicted to rise to 10.6% by 2020), compared with 34.5% for white and 55.3% for red. But what rosé might lack in volume, it makes up for in style.

One Response to “The rosé revolution”

  1. “Invariably light and easy drinking” I keep finding it distressing that all pink wine is lumped together. We make a rosé that is pretty full bodied. It is barrel fermented and sur lees. A two year production cycle. Put it in a black glass and people will accept it as a white Burgundy.
    There is a lot of pink crap out there, anytime a category booms there’s a lowering of average quality. Although Rosé is a broad group that has been mostly pretty lame. I used to be involved in making sweet, pink crap.
    To put all rosé wines in a group is as silly as putting all colors in a group. Oh! Wait! That’s bigotry!
    There is a lot more to ROSÉ, maybe you should do a story on those making the exceptions to pink, overpriced plonk?
    Paul Vandenberg
    Proud producer of dry, sur lees, barrel aged rosé wines since 1999.
    Paradisos del Sol
    Home of Vineyard del Sol, the World’s first Zero Pesticide Vineyard

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