Beyond the Pale Summer Vibe: The Subtle Complexity of Provence Rosé

Beyond the Pale Summer Vibe: The Subtle Complexity of Provence Rosé.

Recently, we had the pleasure of being guests on the sun-drenched terrace of The Harbour Club in Amsterdam, where we delved into the world of Provence Rosé. The event, whose dress code is pink, exuded a quintessential summer vibe reminiscent of a chic promotional event for Provence Rosé, organized by Vins de Provence.

Historically, Provence has been synonymous with cinematic glamour—Brigitte Bardot’s 1956 global triumph set the stage (the filming location was Saint Tropez), followed by numerous celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie launching their labels, cementing Provence’s status as a trendsetter.

Despite the stereotypical ideas, we were captivated by the diverse styles and qualities crafted with meticulous production techniques aimed at year-round rosé enjoyment. We’re excited to share the insights we gained from Janna Meppelink, who presented the region and wines for us, on behalf of Vins de Provence.

Provence: The Mosaic of the terroir

Before we embark on our wine-tasting journey, let’s take a moment to appreciate the backdrop of the Provence region. Nestled in the South of France, Provence has a warm Mediterranean climate, graced with abundant sunshine and minimal rainfall during the growing season. This idyllic setting for winemaking, resulting in lower disease prevalence, has encouraged a significant number of wineries to adopt organic and sustainable farming practices.

The Côtes de Provence AOC stands as the largest appellation, while the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence claims the second spot. The Coteaux Varois en Provence AOC is nestled between these expansive areas, ranking third in size. These three prominent regions boast an overwhelming 95% of production in their wines.

While Provence is often viewed as a tapestry of lavender fields, sprawling sunflower plains, and glamorous beaches frequented by celebrities, it’s characterized by its rugged terrain. The region’s eastern part is particularly mountainous, boasting a diverse geological makeup that includes volcanic, granite, gneiss, limestone, and mica schist. This vast expanse allows for the sourcing of wines from various parts of the vineyards, enhancing complexity or meeting specific production volumes. Meanwhile, higher-quality wines are produced from grapes cultivated in specially designated vineyards.

Provence, Home of Rose Wines.

Côtes de Provence Crus Classés

Provence created a classification system in 1955 with one level: Cru Classés. In this Bordeaux style classification system (Not vineyards, but estates are classified.) Originally, 23 estates were categorized, but now 18 are still running winemaking.

Two examples of Cru Classé rose’s we tasted during the presentation:

2023 Chateau De Saint Martin

Cru Classé,Grande Reserve | Côtes De Provence |Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, Syrah, Carignan

Skin maceration for six hours gives this wine a higher structure and fruit intensity. It has fresh, fruity red berries, wild strawberry, jasmine, rose, and blood orange aromas. Medium plus bodied, a gastronomic wine.

2023 Château de l’Aumérade, Marie-Christine

Cru Classé | Côtes de Provence | Cinsault 35%, Grenache 35%, Syrah 30%

It has a lovely pale pink hue, with refreshing aromas of grapefruit leading to succulent peach and apricot on the palate. Fruit-forward and full, with a hint of spice, this elegant rosé has a refreshing acidity and satisfying finish.

2023 Château de l’Aumérade, Marie-Christine Cru Classé.

Provence: Mastering Variety Blend in Provence

The crafting of Rosé typically involves the harmonious blending of various grape varieties. The key grape varieties and their contributions to the wine’s profile are as follows: Grenache stands as the cornerstone red grape in Provence’s rosé blends, producing wines that are both graceful and mellow, distinguished by a pale color and an array of red berry scents. Cinsault lends a gentle hue and infuses the wine with hints of red fruits and floral tones. Syrah introduces a layer of spice and deeper fruit undertones. Carignan is valued for contributing to the wine’s alcohol content and structure, often paired with Grenache to enhance the red berry essence. Mourvèdre excels in creating powerful, alcoholic wines filled with the flavors of blueberries and blackberries. Tibouren, a grape indigenous to Provence, is prized for its light salmon tint and intense floral notes. Finally, Rolle, the synonym of Vermentino, is actually a white grape variety but plays a pivotal role in augmenting the wine’s fullness and intricacy.

Different blends and styles of Rose.

The Secret of Colour in Rosé Wines

The intensity of a rosé wine’s hue is influenced by the duration of skin contact—the period during which the grape juice remains in contact with the skins of black grapes before fermentation. Additionally, the type of grape variety plays a role in the colour variation. To achieve the signature pale shade of rosé, winemakers typically press the grapes immediately, which minimizes the extraction of colour, tannins, and aromas. Our comprehensive tastings observed a spectrum of colours ranging from near transparency through shades of salmon and pale pink to a deeper pink hue.

Different Shades of Rose.

Provence: A Fusion of Quality and Pleasure

We witnessed Provence rosé offering diverse styles. The grape varieties play a pivotal role; traditional rosés are complemented by blends incorporating Cabernet or enhanced by white grapes, each adding a unique flair. A longer maceration period and the application of winemaking techniques typically reserved for white or red wines contribute additional texture and structure. This not only lends the wines a dynamic quality but also transforms them into versatile, gastronomic delights suitable for enjoyment throughout the year. Meanwhile, the quintessential pale and delicate hue of Provence Rosé continues to evoke the essence of summer. All these things are delightful characteristics of Provence Rosé. We hope our readers discover new aspects to savour in their rosé experiences this season.

This was covered by our own Kazumi Uejo, who also wrote the article. We would like to thank Vins de Provence, Janna Meppelink & Pitch PR for this opportunity and informative presentation. Image credits: Vivian Secreve (@photograviv).