Understanding Rosé - A Wine of Many Colors

Rose? It’s a dull, innocuous wine, occasionally thrown into the mix when neither a white nor a red seems suitable for what’s on the menu.  Wrong, wrong, wrong. Like any compromise, it can be lifeless. The right rosé, however, can add as much to a meal as any great red or white.


Marika Vida, Wine Director of the Ritz Carlton NYC, who was our guest sommelier

Rose’ wines come in many textures, tastes, and colors, from almost white to very light pink to intense red, soft, crisp, dry, sweet, acidic, heavy, and light.  There is no “one fits all.”   I recently went through a serious tasting of rose wines from Provence and was able to identify differences and make comparisons. 


At Claudette in NYC

French rosé outsells white wine in France.. American attitudes toward rose have been affected by white zinfandel and blends in the blush style, leaving some consumers with the misconception that dry rose wines are the same as sweet blush wines. A typical American blush wine will deliver more than six times as much residual sugar per llter as a Provence rose, which is definitely not in the sweet realm.  


Rosé is, in fact, a category of wine, standing alongside red and white. It is not a blend of white and red wine, but is made solely from red grapes. Red wine producers allow the grapes to ferment on the skin, creating color that way. Rose producers limit the contact between the clear juice and the skins, affording the juice just enough time to achieve the desired shade, any tint from pink, to salmon or coral.


Wines of Provence

Provence is the most favored region in France for rosé. It stretches along the southern coast of France, at times hilly, at times flat, often buffeted by the heavy winds of the mistral, often withering under a hot sun, tempered only by cooling air off the Mediterranean.. Within that appellation, there are several sub-appellations. In our tasting, we examined wines from several of those groupings. Here are notes on some noteworthy wines.



L’Ange et Luce Rose 2015 from Domaine Jaourette.  Salmon colored, with aromas of candied strawberry and citrus, cranberry and bright red fruits on the palate, a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rotie. Suggested retail price (SRP) 15.99.


Rosee D’Aurore 2015, from Domaine de la Fouguette.  Clear to lychee in color, citrus and passion fruit aromas, passion fruit on the palate.  A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Rotie. SRP $18.


Mort Hochstein is in the bottom right corner seated

Maison Belle Claire White 2015 from Global Vini Services. Pale  translucent gold color, with ripe yellow exotic fruits on the palate. A blend of 85% Rotie and 15% Ugni Blanc. SRP $18.


Grande Recolte 2015, from Château de Berne. Cinsault and Grenache. Pale shiny pink, with aromas of Peach, apricot and fresia.   Fruity and elegant. A perfect aperitif.   SRP $19.90


Wines of Provence

Symphony White 2014, from Chateau Sante Marguerite, 100% Rotie. Clear gold in color, nose throwing of hints of citrus vanilla and honey, a captivating wine, definitely not your grandmother’s rose’. SRP $29.


Aix Rose 2015 from Maison Saint Aix. 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Cinsault. Apple, spice and citrus on the nose, with similar flavors on the palate.  A French favorite with a huge production of 400,000 bottles. SRP$20.



The Languedoc lies west of Provence and I recently sampled a small batch of exemplary wines from a small producer in Minervois, near the historic city of Carcassonne . Winemaker Stephane Kandler is producing wines that, like the rose’s of Provence, are a perfect match for the food of the Mediterranean. His wines are not yet in wide distribution in the United States, but are great buys at the price, definitely worth seeking out at your local wine shop.


Kandler introduced me to his 2015 Helios White. It is pale yellow-colored, with an herbal touch of lavender on the palate. From aged Rousanne vines, it shows good fruit, with, weight and pleasant texture. Recommended with scallops, sea bass and chopped veggies. SRP $16.


Tourril et Canal du Midi - Château Tourril/Stephane Kandler photo is Millissime, Ltd

His Livia Red 2013 is 90% Syrah, 10% Carignan, truly an old vine Syrah. The wine is deep red, with a complex taste of small red fruit, gingerbread and vanilla noted and slightly tannic with a hint of tobacco. It’s a wine to go with the venison that abounds in the region, and if you don’t have venison, it pairs well with red meats from lamb to steak.  SRP $20.


There’s slightly less Syrah, 80% with 20% Grenache in the Panatella Red, a dark purple, intense wine redolent of black fruits and a bit of truffle, a wine to match with beef stew and cassoulet. SRP: $17.


SK at Vinisud with Sud de France prize-Photo- Tourill Wines

We tasted another red, the robust Philippe 2011, a blend of 40% Carignan, and 30% each of Syrah and Grenache Noir. Rich pomegranate and cherry on the nose, much black currant on the palate, silky tannins. It works well with charcuterie, and white meats such as turkey and also with lamb.  SRP $17.


Photo credit: Wines of Provence unless otherwise noted




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