Professional Rosé Wine Tasting is Hard Work in Provence
While in Provence, Göran Boman and his wife joined two wine professionals on an epic wine-tasting experience this spring. They tasted 192 different rosés from the region!
My wife Maria and I had the chance to try our hand at being wine journalists when we tasted 192 rosé wines from Provence at the end of May. The world’s leading rosé wine expert Elizabeth Gabay MW and her equally knowledgeable son Ben Bernheim invited us to a tasting at CIVP, the branch organization Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence, in Les Arcs. Elizabeth is, among other things, known as the author of the unique books Rosé: Understanding the pink wine revolution from 2018 and Rosés of Southern France, which came out last year.
In two days, we managed to blindly taste 192 rosé wines, mainly from the three major appellations of Provence, a tough job with a lot of spitting and which took a day or so to recover from. Thanks to the spitting, the alcohol meter showed that I could drive without any problems afterwards, so the evening ended with dinner at Elizabeth’s family. After the tasting, careful tooth brushing was required as the acid attacked the teeth!
2022 Vintage Notes
We were surprised during the first tasting day when we only tasted wines from Côtes de Provence, that several wines were both light coloured and, above all, very yellow. One wine deviated significantly, but it turned out to be a white wine! The fact that the rosé wines were light yellow is probably because the summer of 2022 was hot and extremely dry, which may mean that the acid level in the grapes was low. With lower acidity, there is less of the red colour, and the wine becomes more yellow, see more in the terroir chapter 8.5 in my Provence wine book. Another consequence for vintage 2022 is that acid has had to be added to many rosé wines.
Despite this, many producers show that 2022 is a good rosé vintage in Provence, and it is significantly better than the frost- and in some places, fire-affected 2021 vintage.
What is high quality in a rosé wine from Provence?
What we think characterizes a “typical” rosé wine from Provence today is:
- Light colour – which does not say anything about the quality
- On the nose, it shall be fresh and aromatic with fruits and sometimes flowers
- Yellow fruit – peach, citrus, red fruit like raspberry or strawberry, occasionally white flowers, and some spice
- The attack in the mouth, the first impression, should be refreshing and aromatic with a palette of fruity notes, balanced to fresh acidity and with both freshness and body.
- Fresh aftertaste with some body.
The fresh rosé wines from Côtes de Provence have become a huge sales success, but sometimes the wines can be very simple and too typical with, for example, a lot of grapefruit character. In the export market, the big giants dominate, read, e.g. the blog “From pension fund to multibillionaire” from May when LVMH/Château d’Esclans bought Château du Minuty. The big giants produce up to 8 – 20 million bottles per year and only have vineyards to cover a small part of their production and then for their prestige wines, so several wines are produced from purchased grapes, so-called négociant wines.
Continue reading here for a list of wines they tasted, notes on the rating scale and specific bottles.
Göran Boman, the author of The Wines of Provence – Tricolour, is based in Sweden, far from Provence’s vineyards. His studies at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology led to a career with large international companies. Before retiring, Göran monitored the quality of nuclear fuel transmitted from EDF France to Sweden.
About 25 years ago, he joined Munskänkarna (“Cup-bearers”) for wine tastings and education. The association is the world’s largest non-commercial wine-tasting group with 30,000 members, mainly in Sweden and Provence.
If you love Provencal wines, his book should be essential for you. Göran Boman covers 58 wine producers in his book and recommends 338 wines, not just rosé wines. Use the book as a guide to discovering these wines and their producers. His goal is to deepen your knowledge of everything worth knowing about the wines of Provence.
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