A Gift From Provence, France: Rosé Wines

Chateau Barbelle, Domaine Saint Ferreol, Mirabeau, and Famille Sumeire rose wines from Provence
Chateau Barbelle, Domaine Saint Ferreol, Mirabeau, and Famille Sumeire rosé wines from Provence

Rosé wine, with its delicate hue and refreshing taste, has captured the hearts of wine enthusiasts worldwide.  According to statistics, I read that rosé wine consumption tripled since 1990. Vins de Provence exported nearly 62 million bottles in 2022 with the USA, buying up 37% of the total quantity sold.  I am not sure of the quantity sold in Canada, but likely similar in percentage, scaled to our population, to the USA.

Among the diverse approaches to crafting this beloved wine, three methods stand out: the Direct Press method, the Maceration method, and the Saignée method. These techniques not only define the character of the wine but also highlight the distinct grapes that flourish in the vineyards of Provence, France and around the world. 

Direct Press Method

The traditional method of making rosé wine via direct press is akin to that used for crafting sparkling wines like Champagne. It involves a meticulous process where red grapes undergo gentle pressing to extract just enough colour and flavour from the skins. After pressing, the juice ferments in stainless steel or oak barrels, where it matures under controlled conditions.

Maceration Method

The Maceration method begins with the crushing of red grapes shortly after harvest and then a short period, e.g. 2-3 hrs, of soaking on the skins. The juice is then pressed off the skins and undergoes fermentation at cool temperatures to preserve the delicate aromas and fruity character of the grapes.

Saignée Method

Rosé wines crafted through the saignée method, translating to “bleeding” in French, involves drawing off a portion of freshly crushed red grape juice after brief skin contact, typically lasting anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. This process allows winemakers to achieve a lighter pink hue and more nuanced flavours compared to their red wine counterparts. The extracted juice, now imbued with a subtle blush, ferments separately to produce rosé wine, while the remaining juice intensifies in concentration for red wine production. This dual-purpose approach not only can enhance the quality of the red wine but also yield a refreshing rosé with a spectrum of fruity aromas and a crisp, balanced acidity.

Grapes for Rosé

Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah are the mostly commonly used grapes for Provencal rosé wines. Grenache, with its robust flavours of red fruits and herbs, can impart a fuller body to a rosé, making it ideal for pairing with a variety of cuisines. Cinsault adds a bright acidity and floral notes that enhance its freshness. Syrah, with its deep colour and hints of spice, provides structure and complexity, balancing the wine’s fruit-forward profile.  Together, these grapes form the backbone of Provencal rosé, celebrated for its pale salmon colour, delicate floral aromas, and flavours of wild strawberries, citrus zest, and herbs.

Provencal rosé wines are renowned for their versatility, making them ideal companions for Mediterranean cuisine, seafood dishes, and leisurely afternoons in the sun.

In other parts of France, grapes like Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Grenache are commonly used for crafting rosé wines. These varieties contribute to the wine’s structure and depth, ensuring a refined drinking experience. Pinot Noir lends a pale pink colour and delicate aromas of strawberries and raspberries to rosé wines. Meanwhile, Gamay adds a vibrant fruitiness, often reminiscent of cherries and cranberries, enhancing the wine’s freshness. 

If you are a right-brain person that likes to learn visually, this URL shows the rosé winemaking process in a graphic.

Popular Provencal Rose Wines in BC

Here are some popular Provence rosé wines in BC:

  1. Whispering Angel Rose
    Whispering Angel Rosé
    Miraval Rosé: Produced in partnership with the Jolie-Pitt family and crafted from a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Rolle (Vermentino), Miraval Rosé is known for its elegant pale pink colour, fresh acidity, and delicate aromas of citrus fruits and red berries.
  2. Domaines Ott Château de Selle Rosé: A flagship wine from Domaines Ott, Château de Selle Rosé is renowned for its pale peach colour, floral aromas, and flavours of peach, apricot, and hints of spice. It typically blends Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes.
  3. Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé: Whispering Angel is a Provence rosé known for its light salmon colour, crisp acidity, and notes of red berries, citrus, and herbs. It’s crafted from Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and other local grape varieties.
  4. La Vieille Ferme Rosé: While not exclusively from Provence but neighbouring regions like Ventoux, La Vieille Ferme Rosé is a popular choice known for its affordability and quality. It offers a pale pink colour, aromas of red fruits, and a crisp, dry palate.

These wines are widely recognized for their quality and are emblematic of the Provence style of rosé wine. For the most current availability in BC Liquor Stores, checking their website or visiting a store location would provide the most accurate information.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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