Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris flirts with some Provencal pinks and reveals why they’re so fashionable and seductive.
Provence is so famous for its landscapes that the name alone conjures up images of fragrant hills blanketed in lavender and pretty villages dotted among the olive groves and vineyards.
As such, it’s a place that’s bestowed as much pleasure to the palette (artists like Paul Cezanne have captured its beauty) as it imparts on the palate; Provencal rose is the pin-up of pink wines.
Cinsault and grenache are the two main grapes of the region, and 80% of production in the Cotes de Provence appellation is devoted to rose, from the coastal area around St Tropez to the hills in the north. Scented, refreshing and dry, the characteristically pale hues of Provencal rose can vary from nude to pale petal, strawberry, coral, cantaloupe, to mango or mandarin, according to the winemaker’s techniques, and how long the skin stays in contact with the juice. As a general rule of thumb though, the more delicate the colour, the more expensive the wine.
To get the look and mirror the beauty and glamour of a Riviera lifestyle, here are some posh pinks to enjoy alfresco.
Along with its chic label, Mirabeau Rose 2012, Cotes de Provence (£8.99, Waitrose) is an irresistible baby pink that’s exotically fruity with ribbons of strawberry and raspberry, enhanced by a touch of juicy peach leading to a bone dry finish - the fact that’s it’s made by an expat living out his dream makes it extra-worthy of attention.
A petal pink rose that’s as delicious as it is pretty, Chateau Pigoudet ‘La Chapelle’ Rose 2012, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence (£9.99, or £8.99 when you buy two, Majestic) is well-crafted with tender fruit, a core of grapefruit and a crisp acidity on the refreshing berry finish that cries out for a salad nicoise.
Named after the Cabaret rose flower of the same colour, Cabaret Rose 2012, Cotes de Provence (£9, Oddbins) sounds like an open invitation to party, and this wine is certainly worth making a song and dance about. The family have been making wines for more than 700 years (wine-growing in Provence dates back to Roman times), and the winery is a stone’s throw from the foot of Montagne Sainte-Victoire which Cezanne painted throughout his career. An entry level wine from Olivier Sumeire, Cabaret is a peachy-coral shade, nicely scented with an elegant silky mouthfeel and enough body and flavour to charm even non-rose lovers into asking for a second glass.
A notch up the scale, Sumeire’s Chateau Coussin Rose 2012, Cotes de Provence (£12.25, Oddbins) is another joyous glass that doesn’t hold back on flavour; a bouquet of summer flowers, savoury, red berry fruits and a soft, silky mouthfeel ending with lively acidity.
Butterflies bless the bottle of Chateau des Launes Cote de Provence Rose 2011, £10.99, or £9.89 when you buy six, www.31dover.com) and this salmon pink has understated notes of fresh blossom, good concentration of white stone fruits with enough minerality to give it a lift on the beautifully balanced finish.
Chateau du Galoupet is thought to date back to the 17th century, and Chateau du Galoupet, cru classe, Cotes de Provence 2012 (£12.20, www.tanners-wines.co.uk) is a very elegant example from this top-notch producer. A delectable coral pink, a veil of wild strawberry follows through with cherry and raspberry flavours, clean acidity and a long fruity finish.