Where would our wine sales be without the phenomenon of Provence rosé that has captured the hearts and palates of men and women across all age groups. No other region can compete with its image or the fact that Provence is the rosé specialist, producing 91% of this colour. One reason for this continued popularity and consistent high quality is that for growers and producers, premium rosé is the goal from the start and grapes are grown specifically to make rosé. With sales of Provence rosé experiencing a second peak over the Christmas period, what is it about Provence rosé that reaches the parts that other wine styles and regions simply can’t? Here we talk to those really in the know. The top national newspaper consumer journalists and TV wine critics that do so much to influence what we all put in our wine shopping baskets.
Here we talk to the following leading consumer journalists and broadcasters for their views on Provence rosé.
- Helen McGinn, wine critic for BBC’s Saturday Morning Kitchen and ITV’s This Morning
- Guy Woodward, wine editor and content strategist
- Fiona Beckett, wine critic, The Guardian
- Christine Austin, wine critic, The Yorkshire Post
- Joe Wadsack, wine communicator
What is it in terms of style that makes Vins de Provence, and rosé in particular, attractive to consumers?
Fiona Beckett: The freshness, and crispness and the colour.
Helen McGinn: It’s lovely to look at and easy to drink. It’s as simple as that really. Crucially the whole Provence vibe feels sophisticated but not stuffy, which is so refreshing when it comes to wine.
Guy Woodward: Colour plays a large part in this – Provence rosés are generally an attractive hue, but also, because they’re light in colour, most people feel the wine is going to be dry and light in taste, not sweet and cloying. Plus, as a result, a lighter colour has come to be associated with a more sophisticated, aspirational image.
Joe Wadsack: There is no doubt that Provence has two very clear aces up its sleeve. First, the packaging is innovative, attractive and of a very high standard, offering a stylish prêt à boire alternative to Champagne or Prosecco in the pub or wine bar. The best-looking bottles are almost all Provence rosés. Second, it is very drinkable, softly-textured and universally attractive to drink, so is often ordered without consulting ‘the group’. If you’re in a busy bar, ordering a bottle of Provence rosé is therefore both stylish (and not cheap), extremely simple and convenient.
What has driven the quite remarkable rise in popularity of Vins de Provence rosé in the UK?
Helen: I think it’s about the lifestyle as much as the colour in the glass. Pale pink wine screams summer and adds a touch of chic to the table for most wine drinkers.
Guy: People know Provence as an upmarket summer destination, so the wine is associated with holidays, switching off and indulgence. Also, it’s uncomplicated. You don’t have to know the grape variety or what food to serve it with. Just stick it in the fridge or an ice bucket and serve. Plus, of course, it looks great on Instagram.
Joe: The fact that it is dry, but not too acidic, easy to drink, and is seen as a classy but better value alternative to sparkling.
Christine Austin: A united approach from the wine producing companies. They have generally worked together to create a common style (instead of a uniform colour and style). Of course, there are differences between them all, but the name Provence is important and so are the flavours.
Fiona: There’s also been some smart marketing and brand building from the likes of Whispering Angel and Château Miraval
Why do you think it has captured consumers’ imaginations?
Guy – It’s seen as a fun, unpretentious, uncomplicated, simple, fruit-forward, accessible wine that also harnesses a certain aspirational element, boosted by a handful of flagship brands that lend that veneer of quality.
Joe: It looks glamorous; the English have a strong association with Provence. Also the fame effect, Brangelina etc., and the association with Whispering Angel in particular.
Helen: The holiday aspect, the idea of sunshine and pools and condensation on glass. There’s just a more relaxed feel about having a glass of Provence rosé versus, say, a Claret.
Christine: Photography. A table under the trees; lavender fields; a glimpse of the sea, hillsides. Everyone wants to go and have lunch in Provence with a bottle of Provence rosé on the table.
Fiona: It’s changed the perception of rosé into a bit of a style statement – helped by Instagram and other social media.
Do you see this growth continuing, or at least maintaining its current level of popularity, and why?
Guy: Yes, probably growing, at least in the short-term. There’s no reason rosé won’t continue to be popular, especially increasing its share at a more premium end, as (non-wine) influencers and celebrities jump on the bandwagon. And there’s no other region that has the cut-through, image and quantity of production to compete with Provence for now.
Helen: Yes, for most normal wine drinkers at least. Maybe not at the level seen in recent years but there are still plenty of wine drinkers who are only just getting into Provence rosé.
Christine: I think growth will start to flatten out. Prices have risen and there is probably a limit on what people will pay. Also other regions – Southern France, Sicily, Spain and South Africa – are copying the style and colour, so prices need to be kept under control.
How do you think Provence rosé has been able to become a year-round wine and not just for the summer?
Joe: The colour and look is intrinsic to its purchase appeal. People will drink it in bars and pubs and at parties at home throughout the year because it is easy to drink, has low acidity and actually goes with most foods too,
Christine: I’m not sure it has become year-round for everyone, but the way it wraps itself around food means there is an opportunity for it to be enjoyed year-round.
Guy: I’m not sure it has. To me, rosé – and Provence rosé in particular, which people associate with being lighter in style – is very much a summer drink for sipping in the sun. I don’t see it as a winter drink, and I’m not sure others do either. Spring, maybe – especially as that seems to come earlier each year.
Helen: Because it’s a joy to drink. There’s the element of escapism when sipping a glass of rosé even if it is raining – or snowing – outside.
You can catch up on all that is happening within the Provence rosé category at the new Vins de Provence Experiences trade event dedicated exclusively to the wines of Provence, taking place in Marseille from February 27-28, 2023. It will see 200 winegrowers and négociants from across the three Vins de Provence appellations – AOP Côtes de Provence, AOP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and AOP Coteaux Varois en Provence – presenting all their wines, including rosé, whites and reds to an expected audience of over 800 international buyers and the wine press.
The event takes place at the Palais du Pharo in Marseille. The two-day event will also include masterclasses, free-pour tastings and a number of other activities to showcase Provence and what it is that makes this wine region so special and important to the international wine industry. You can find out more about Vins de Provence Experiences here – www.vindeprovence-experiences.com. Follow @vinsdeprovenceuk on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.