Rosé Wines from Provence
For the 11th consecutive year, exports of rosé wines from Provence to the United States have grown at double-digit rates. In 2014, exports from the world's rosé capital climbed 29% on volume and increased 38% on value according to the French customs agency and the CIVP/Provence Wine Council.
The French customs report is backed up by U.S. retail sales data released this month by research firm Nielsen, which shows the entire rosé category to be on a sustained upward trend, with the premium imported rosé segment seeing a 53% increase on dollars in 2014.
"While the majority of Provence rosé is still consumed in France, we are very pleased that American wine consumers have discovered and are increasingly enjoying our wines," said Francois Millo, Director of the CIVP/Provence Wine Council. "With this increasing demand, more Provence rosé producers are bringing their wines to the U.S. As a result, there are more styles to choose from and greater distribution in the U.S. than ever before."
Viewed together, the sustained growth of exports along with retail sales figures tell a story of rosé growth that continues to far outpace the U.S. wine market as a whole.
Exports of rosé wines from Provence to the U.S. jumped 29% on volume and 38% on value from October 2013 to October 2014. These rosé exports have grown at double-digit rates each year since 2004.
According to Nielsen research, U.S. retail sales of imported rosé wines priced at $12 or more per bottle grew by 41% on volume and 53% on value in 2014, capping ten straight years of documented double-digit growth. This is compared to growth rates of 1.0% on volume and 3.3% on value for the total table wine market. In addition, the average price per bottle in this category increased to $16.83, a sign that "consumers are seeking out premium rosé - a segment in which Provence continues to be the leader," Millo said.
Provence, the site of France's oldest vineyards, is the world's largest wine region specializing in rosé. The region has a rich rosé tradition, and winemakers today are the beneficiaries of the region's collective knowledge and time-honored techniques. Since rosé is a delicate wine and one of the most difficult to produce with success, these long-established traditions remain entirely relevant.The area's deep-rooted rosé culture goes a long way toward explaining why the world's best rosés still come from Provence.
The rosés of Provence are distinctly different because of the unique character of the place where they originate – the soil, climate, and terrain of the vineyards. The physical environment of Provence – with its plentiful sunshine; its mistral winds; its Mediterranean Basin soils; and its hillsides covered with wild lavender, rosemary, and thyme – is reflected in the refreshing flavors and zesty aromas of the rosé wines made there. This notion of place and the influence it has on wine translates into the uniquely French concept of terroir.
Photos François Millo/CIVP
Provençal winemakers make rosé from the red grape varieties traditionally grown in the region – grapes best suited to the local soil and climate. Grapes are first made into single-variety wines in small batches. These wines are then blended, in a process called assemblage, to achieve what the producer perceives as the best combination of body, bouquet, and color. The final blend, called the cuvée, is typically made from one main grape variety and various secondary varieties. The most common Provence rosé varieties are, in order of prevalence:
Grenache. [gruh-NAHSH] Widely used in the Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence appellation, this variety gives a young wine elegant aromas of small red berries; as it ages, the wine develops spicier notes and increased body and richness.
Cinsault. [SAN-soh] This Provence grape was used for many years as a table grape and is widely used in the region's rosé production. It gives the wine a fine, fresh, fruity touch, in contrast to the strength of other varieties.
Syrah. [see-RAH] These small, black grapes with bluish highlights produce full-bodied rosés that are particularly suitable for aging. Aged wines develop characteristic notes of vanilla and red berries.
Mourvedre. [moor-VEH-druh] This is a slow-maturing variety that prefers hot, limestone soil and thrives near the sea. The small grapes produce smooth, structured wines with assertive tannins and aromas of violets and blackberries. With age, the wine reveals spicier notes of pepper and cinnamon.
Tibouren. [tee-BOO-rhin] This authentic Provence variety is delicate, elegant, and aromatic, lending rosé a particularly rich bouquet. It blends well with other Provence varieties in the assemblage process.
Carignan. [kah-ree-NYAHN] Suited to stony soil, this was once a widespread variety in Provence but is now less prevalent. Produced on slopes where yields are low, Carignan produces deeply colored and highly structured wines that serve as an excellent base for assemblage.
Cabernet Sauvignon. [ka-behr-NAY soh-vee-NYAWN] Less common in Provence, this varietal adds a tannic structure to the wine. Its characteristic nose of green pepper and black currant set it apart from other varieties.
Provence Rosés are Hot!
For the 10th consecutive year, exports of rosé wines from Provence to the United States have grown at double-digit rates. In 2013, exports from the world’s rosé capital climbed 40% on both volume and value. This comes on the heels of a 41% rise in export volumes a year ago and a 62% increase the year before, according to the French customs agency and the CIVP/Provence Wine Council.