2014 Rosé Wines from Provence in 2015 – part 1

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Rosé Cotes de Provence Tasting, Mandelieu, March 2015

Rosé Cotes de Provence Tasting, Mandelieu, March 2015

I am often asked which rosé wines from Provence I would recommend, so I have put together some which I liked at recent tastings.

The wines were tasted at various domaines, the large trade fair Prowein in Dusseldorf and the annual Côtes de Provence tasting in Mandelieu, both this month, March 2015.

I tasted 77 rosés released for 2015 (almost all from the 2014 vintage); 46 stood out as being of interest.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I did not taste all of the wines available at either Prowein or at Mandelieu. With over 600 rosés made in Provence (and making up 90% of the region’s wine production), this survey barely scratches the surface.

The range of colour ran from very pale creamy white with a hint of pink to slightly darker shell pink. The rosés I tasted fell into broadly five groups, all dry:

  1. Fresh, crisp red fruit, and good acidity. This group was the largest.
  2. Red fruit with rounder more complex structure.
  3. Black and red fruit, rounder, balanced acidity.
  4. Softer peachy, apricot fruit, creamy body and good acidity (interestingly all including Cinsault and all but one from the hotter central Valley).
  5. More mineral, salty, structured, austere and mouth-watering.

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Provençal Carignan

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Following on from the successful Israeli Carignan tasting, I decided to look more closely at Provencal wines made from Carignan.

Until the 1970s, Carignan was one of the main grapes of Provence, blended with Grenache and Cinsault to make classic Provençal red and rosé wines. Grenache provided the fruit and sugar, Cinsault the charm and floral notes, Carignan the tannin and acidity.

However, Carignan’s main claim to fame was its potential for high yields. It was regarded as a poor quality grape – tough, unyielding and lacking in charm, a cash crop. Efforts to raise the quality of wine in Provence led to changes in the appellation regulations in the 1970s and restrictions in planting Carignan. As a result, much of the Carignan vines in Provence date from the 1970s or earlier. Continue reading