The rosé revolution


“Provence winemakers have done a great job of promoting their quality rosé, and have been doing so for the past 15 years,” says Jérôme Pernot, head of sales and marketing at Château Léoube. “It has been a long process to educate the consumer that rosé isn’t just a cheap, sweet wine to drink during the summer.

We need to get the message out that many rosés are made using the highest quality standards and are not made with leftover juice or grapes.” Last year, exports of Provence wines surged, exceeding 54m bottles and achieving volume growth of 36%, with its value reaching £210m. In 10 years, exports have grown sixfold. A decade ago, 11% of Provence wines were exported.

That figure increased to 30% in 2017. Rosé sales in the UK off-trade were largely flat last year, according to KantarWorld panel, dropping by 0.1% to £490m and by 1.1% to 83.5m litres in the 52 weeks to 31 December 2017. It is in the on-trade where there has been more significant growth, as reported in the 2018 Liberty Wines Premium On-trade Wine Report, produced with CGA Strategy. Importantly, Liberty divides the on-trade into ‘premium’ outlets, based on factors like cost and commercial reputation, and ‘outside premium’.

Rosé accounted for just 7% of sales in 2017, compared with 52% white and 41% red. However, value sales of rose are growing faster (+5%) than volume (+4%) – a trend that has continued for the past five years. Liberty attributes this growth to “a more quality-led mix of rosé-producing countries”. “The premium rosé market centres around three key consumer profiles: those for whom the ‘brand’ is rosé, those who buy according to their familiarity with Pinot Grigio Rosato, and those wanting a significant step up in quality, with Provence and its high-end brands being the success story here,” the report stated.

The ‘premium’ UK on-trade is dominated by Italian rosé (38%), followed by French (37%) – predominantly from Provence – compared with ‘outside premium’ (15% and 26% respectively), where US rosé wines dominate, with a 38% share, followed by Italy with 26%.

Provence styles might be the most visible, but Italian rosato and sweeter Zinfandel-based styles from the US account for vast swathes of the category. “Over the past five years we have seen two trends with rosé; flavoured wines, that were sweeter and perhaps darker in colour, and, at the other end of the spectrum, lighter, drier styles,” says Alexandra Haughton, categories and insights controller at Concha y Toro. “We will continue to see innovation at both ends.” Irrespective of origin, the commercial success of paler pinks has greatly influenced other wine-producing regions. “The grand cru of rosé is Provence, and the Langeudoc, Rhône, Loire and Bordeaux are changing the style of their rosés to match the expectations of the market,” says Mathieu Crosnier, winemaker at Domaine du Grand Mayne in Bordeaux. “This is also happening in the US, Spain and Italy.”

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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