Its color and flavor are the epitome of summer wine. But there’s more to rosé from Provence than its looks and taste. Explore the surprising diversity surrounding this pale pink charmer and find out why it should be enjoyed all year long.
@ 3: 15 Château la Vivonne 2017 Les Puechs Rosé (Côtes de Provence)
@ 9: 28 Commanderie de la Bargemone 2017 Rosé (Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence)
@ 13: 58 Gassier 2017 Château Gassier Cuvée 946 Rosé (Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire)
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Read the full transcript of ” Why You Should Drink Rosé from Provence This Summer and Forever “:
Jameson Fink: Welcome to Wine Enthusiast’s What We’re Tasting podcast. I’m your host, Jameson Fink.
Join me as we discuss three fantastic wines, and why one belongs in your glass. This episode, I’m exploring rosé from Provence, with contributor editor Roger Voss, who covers and reviews wines from the region. I was certainly drinking rosé and enjoying it, but I was able to go back in a wine time machine, maybe 20 years or so, but I , rosé from Provence, to be incredibly popular as it is. It just seems like it’s beyond a trend. It’s its own category, it’s going to grow. It seems like rosé is just a part of our life, like red wine, and white wine. Rosé with Roger Voss. Roger,
Roger Voss: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
JF: It’s delightful to talk about rosé. It is almost tropical here in New York. It’s really hot, it’s really humid, and luckily, we’re talking about that stuff. Of course, rosé fits every season, but Roger, what’s your take on … I mean, you’re surprised at how popular rosé from Provence has become? Does it surprise you?
RV: Well, yes, because when I first got to know the American wine scene, rosé was sweet. It was called blush, and it was sweet. So it’s astonishing to me that we’ve moved from there to drinking dry. That is really where Provence comes in. Because Provence, to me, is the perfect dry rosé. I always think, you combine sun, sand, sea, and summer with the sophisticated bars and restaurants beside the Mediterranean. That, to me, is the image of Provence rosé. And that’s obviously gone down in America.
JF: That’s a good point, too. How much is that lifestyle, too, that’s part of its popularity? Do you think that’s tied in? It’s sort of aspirational. Like, “I’m drinking this rosé and pretending I’m transported to Provence”?
RV: Well, there is something about it. There’s a little story, which I heard from one of the top producers. He spent his time in Provence, but he knew he’d come, saying, “Can you tell me the size of your double magnums? ? Because I need to ensure that the iceboxes, the fridges on my yachts, are big enough to take your double magnums. ” He knew he’d arrived.
JF: I wish I had that thought going through my head. I wonder if my fridge is big enough to fit double magnums of rosé. I’d probably give it a couple shelves, but I think I could do it. But, really, I’m fortunately living more of a 750 milliliter standard bottle lifestyle.
Let’s talk about the first wine. Roger I but I would like to try it, but I think it would be a crime scene. I’d like to say it, but it would be awful. So I’m wondering if you would not mind introducing the first wine?
RV: Sure. First wine is Château la Vivonne. It’s 2017 vintage, because that’s what rosé is all about. Young, and ready to drink now. And its cuvée name is Les Puechs.
JF: That’s from the Côtes of Provence, and that’s 91 points, Best Buy.
RV: Yes, indeed. I reviewed it in March, and was published in July.
JF: One of the things I’m interested in you, it’s about the wine, that it has a certain perfume, from the Mourvèdre. I’m wondering, what’s the typical blend? Is that something you’re looking for in Provence, that you’re getting some Mourvèdre poking out, or is it, the blend vary?
RV: Well, Mourvèdre is a very specific grape to a certain part of Provence, which I’ll explain in a second. To answer your first question, the general blend is Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. Rosé, which is why rosé from France is so good, ’cause it has Grenache in it.
But Mourvèdre, to move onto this wine, is from a region called Bandol, which is on the coast, near Toulon. It’s a mountainous set part of Provence, and the Mourvèdre grape seems to have settled there, and loves it. So most of the Bandol wines have Mourvèdre in them. This wine comes from a producer who is actually based in Bandol, but he also happens to be in Mourvèdre in his rosé.
JF: So it’s fair to say, this is, maybe, for Provence, kind of a heartier rose? Is that accurate?
RV: That’s a fair word to use, yes. Slightly richer than your standard Provence rosé. And certainly to say, as I say in my notes, more perfumed.
JF: That’s interesting too, because a conversation about Provence and its rosés is that of … there’s certainly a lot out there, that’s one of a few notes, and so much so, it’s almost watery, and nondescript. What’s the variety? Am I painting Provence with too broad a stroke? Is there, within Provence, a lot of diversity of rosé?
RV: There is, yes. First of all, we have different appellations. de Provence is by far the biggest. But we’ve also got a wine, from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, which is slightly further to the west, and it’s Bandol, which comes from next to Bandol. Then there’s other areas as well, within Provence. Now, you mentioned the color, and I think it’s been very funny, because I review these wines every year. I’ve been noticing the color getting paler and paler each year. Until this year. Because, really, some of them were absolutely white. But this year, I’ve noticed they’re actually a little bit of color.
So you naturally see it’s rosé, rather than a white wine.
JF: Do you think that’s a product of vintage, or is it a winemakers saying, “Do you know what?
RV: Well, I was just stupidly white, in some cases. I know maybe they read those, I do not know.
JF: They could’ve. They could have taken it to heart.
RV: They could have taken it to heart. But just, you can also strip out flavor. So, the paler the wines, the very actual taste they had. So if you’re drinking rosé really chilled, fine. But I taste rosés not chilled, because then I taste the wine complete. I was noticing with these really rosés last year, that they were getting less and less taste. So I’m glad to see they’re stepping back from that really, really pale, almost white trend. Pale is fine, provided you can also have taste.
JF: Yeah, you think about Tavel, or something like that, that’s a really deep, dark, rich rosé. But it’s always mean that, oh, because its pale colored, it’s going to be lighter, or that kind of thing? Can it be still pale, and still have a lot of oomph or structure?
RV: Well it can do, yes, and that’s obviously, it’s just up to the skill of the winemaker. The thing about rosé, all rosés, is lot of it to do with winemaking. Because of the use of the color just right, and how long you macerate the skins of the grapes to get the right color that you want and so on. So, rosé is probably the most, they’re the most technical wine.
JF: I think that’s something that people would be surprised to hear about. I think people maybe think because, “Oh, rosé, it’s summery, it’s light, it’s pale,” people do not think that it takes a lot of skill and effort to make a rose like it does. They might think a red wine, or even a white wine, you need, you need.
RV: More difficult than white. “I have got some red juice, let’s drain it off, get rid of grapes and macerating, let’s drain them off” , and we’ll have some rosé. ” That does not work with good rosé. Provence has understood this, and that’s why their wines are good, even if, as we said, some of them are too light in color.
JF: Well, let’s go ahead and introduce that for me, Roger?
RV: Sure. This is from the Commanderie de la Bargemone, and as I said, this is from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, which is the west of the Cote-Provence main part of the region.
JF: That’s a 91-point editor’s choice, from you, the editor?
RV: In 2017 vintage, again. Now, this is interesting summer, founded by the Knights Templar, who were one of the crusading orders. The Knights Templar is a place where they lived. And it actually got its name, Bargemone, because a few centuries later, there’s a family, called Bargemone, bought it.
JF: I’m really excited, and I started a lot of it, because I was really excited, and I started a lot of it, because I love that three-liter box. Is that something, I mean, you’re in Bordeaux right now, correct?
RV: I am, yes.
JF: Do you see rosé when you’re traveling around? Is that alternative packaging for rosé popular, or is it more than just, export market?
RV: No, the French love boxes. They’re very happy with boxes, and they’re going to be … If you walk through the aisles of the supermarket, and look at people’s trolleys, which is always fun. There will be boxes of roses in those trolleys. Particularly vacationers, but also the locals.
JF: That’s good to hear. I’m glad to hear I get the approval from the people of France when I’m drinking a drink in my Brooklyn apartment. Good. I thought it was interesting, I was reading all the things you wrote about last year’s rosés on winemag.com, and more, I listened about the vintage, but you’re seeing all this different kind of bottle shape and packaging. What do you think that is, with these rosés from Provence?
RV: Rosé is also a marketing thing. I mean, I started off by telling you that little about the guy and his double magnums. But, really, rosé, particularly Provence rosé, has a defined marketing bling to it. You’re quite close to the Riviera. These people are going to be drinking from a fancy bottle, so there’s a lot of that going on, as well, introducing these rosés.
Sometimes, these bottles are so bizarre. I get oneself that looks just like gin bottles, and the wine inside is fine, but you can put it on your table, and make it look good. You can show off with your bottle of rosé. Otherwise, it’s just a pink thing in a glass.
JF: Well, I wonder, also, if that’s part of, with a lot of these rosés looking at the same, like, the same pale, pink color. I mean, that’s also another way to stand out on a shelf. A different bottle shape, or graphics, or things like that.
RV: Absolutely. It’s all of it, and Provence has really understood the idea. Because you’re dealing with a product that’s, as I say, it’s very bling. It’s here today, gone tomorrow. You can make a difference, it is a very good way of doing so.
JF: I think it’s interesting that, when I think of rosé from Provence, I just think, “It’s Provence. It’s rosé.” But we’re looking for more than one appellations, and the bigger Côtes, smaller than the Côtes de Provence region. Is that something where there’s rosés, and you can be like, “Do you have specific qualities, that come from where the grapes are from?” Like, terroir. Is that the next step in rosé?
RV: Well, it has already happened. Certainly with Aix-en-Provence, which is where this Commanderie de la Bargemone wine comes from. One of the reasons is, they also blend in Cabernet Sauvignon. And that obviously makes a difference. Cabernet. Gives more to a wine, because, as you know, from drinking.
So, yes if it is turned into a rosé, it certainly gives more … Not just actually, but certainly, structure to the wine. The name of the Bargemone, is probably more structured than the first wine, or the third wine, that we’ll be talking about.
JF: Yeah, let’s move right on to the third wine. Go ahead and introduce that for me, Roger.
RV:Okay. This is from the Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire appellation, Chateau Gassier, Cuvée 946.
JF: What does the 946 refer to? Is that a mystery, or is there something to it?
RV: 946 is actually, is meters.
JF: Oh, okay. That’s right. Well, in your review, it says, “It’s a vineyard at a height of 3,000 feet.”
RV: Sainte-Victoire, the mountainous Sainte-Victoire, which is why it is an appellation, is that it creates a microclimate, if you like. Which is very sheltered. It’s drier, just a bit drier, because the mountain protects it from any rain that might arrive. It is, it gives wines with … let’s say, extra richness, and certainly, they do not have to eat, which some other Côtes Provence wines do not have.
So Sainte-Victoire is seen as an appellation apart, and it is because of the Sainte-Victoire mountain. It is a scary mountain, just to look at.
JF: Scary, how?
RV: Because, you’re in the vineyard, and you’re looking, and there’s this rock face lowering you.
It’s ominous. I do not think, but I’m sure, when you drink it, it’s a glorious wine. I’m hearing you talk about it, I’m hearing about you, and I’m listening to you drink it. Is this an age-worthy rosé? Is this something you can for a year, two years?
RV: Yeah. I know, I mean, I’m a bit of wood, with aging, certainly could be aged longer. And I said, I’m just reading my notes now: “Wait until late 2018, but you could certainly drink it in 2019, and probably 2020.”
JF: Is something common in rosé from Provence? Is it this, kind of, making it like these super rosés, if you will, and with some oak on them? Why I think most of them are stainless steel, correct?
RV: Absolutely. Stainless steel, or cement tanks. Neutral, neutral containers, but there is a trend, where two or three … well, more than two or three. There’s several wines, which I have been aged, not much. Just lightly, in big barrels, not little. Not little Bordeaux-type barrels, which rounds them out a little bit, and certainly makes them age-worthy. And, of course, you can put their price up.
JF: What’s the oldest rosé you’ve ever drank? Like, if you had one that was five, 10, more years old? If you had a really old rosé that made you stand up, and you’re like, “Wow, this is really surprising”?
RV: Yes I mean, five years, maybe six, and I was tasted, and that was still very good. We mean no longer to fruity fresh wine that we think of as rosé. In a curious way. Because the structure would be like forward, but the fruits are falling away.
I know it was an interesting wine. I would not say it was a stand up wow moment. But it was very interesting, but I think that “interesting” is not necessarily the word you want to hear, when you’re talking about a wine you want to drink.
JF: Right, I’d rather, “delicious,” or things like that. But it just makes me think, kind of, what we talked about earlier, about the skill it takes to make a great rosé, versus white wine and red wine. I mean, rosé is a serious wine, but are people striving to say, “Hey, I can make a rosé that will reach the heights of the greatest red wines”? Is that possible?
Are we selling rosé short, or it’s just something, that, “Hey, you know what? Let’s enjoy it, and its youthful properties.” Are people coming for the stars with rosé?
RV: Well, I mean, the wine we’re just talking about, the Cuvée 946, is certainly, got serious intentions, ambitions.
Obviously, I liked it, because I gave it a good score, and there are others like that. I mean, there are some that are more expensive than this one, which retail at $ 50, but they are one that retails for $100, and they exist, and they are actually you can look at seriously.
To go back to your original point about aging. I do not think you can get these really expensive wines for very long. But you can certainly be them for longer than, “Buy it now, drink it this summer,” which is what most rosé is.
JF: Well, I think you just mentioned $ 100 as a … I think if you ever had that rosé from Provence, and I do not know if any of us would have predicted d See a $ 100 bottle of rosé awhile needle, or maybe even not that long needle.
I know. That’s an exceptional wine, which puts Provence rosé as a very drinkable $ 20 bottle. Really, I mean, we can talk about these fancy cuvées, and these more serious wines.
Rosé is meant to be drunk with pleasure. You got hot weather in New York. I’ve got a hot time here, I’m got a bottle of rosé sitting next to me, ready to be
So, there is, that’s definitely what, rosé, we should think of rosé. That’s really how we should look at it.
JF: Also, the pleasure of rosé has to do, I think it is probably one of the most food-friendly wines, too. I mean, there’s certainly classics, especially in Provence, but what do you like to enjoy, food-wise, with rosé? Are there some things, people might be surprised, that you think is a good match?
RV: Well, pretty much everything, actually. You’ve sort of indicated that. Rosé is a versatile, I mean, it definitely goes with fish. It goes with things like gazpacho, or it even goes, it certainly goes with chicken.
I’ve even had it with meat, and it’s fine. Black truffle, if you can afford it, it is a great match, cheeses. You name it, pretty much, rosé goes with pretty much anything. Especially if the weather’s hot. You’d much prefer to have a rosé, than a red wine. So, in the summer, we drink a lot of rosé, with pretty much anything we’re eating.
JF: I like drinking it in the winter, too, I think. I mean, for the big holidays here, like Thanksgiving. With turkey, it’s such a great match. Then, also, when I think it starts getting cold and dreary, especially here, when you have a bottle of pink wine.
Just like how it’s emblematic of summer. It’s like, it’s December, or January, there’s a blizzard in New York, and you’re open to a bottle of rosé. And you’re like, serenity now. At least, that transports property that is has.
RV: Yes. I know, exactly. You’re absolutely right with Thanksgiving turkey. It’s a brilliant match. I’ve certainly done that. Yes, I mean, it reminds you of the summer that’s just passed, and gives you hope for the summer. I think that another great thing that rosé can do.
JF: Well, Roger, thank you very much for this little tour of Provence rosé. I think it’s interesting to note that there’s a lot of one-note rosé out there, but when you dig a little deeper, there’s really interesting, different grapes being used, different locations, different prices, and different styles. I know, thank you very much for this in-depth look at rosé.
RV: You’re very welcome. I’m going to have my glass of rosé.
JF: All right. You have more than than it. We could have had it while we were recording, too, and I would have been delighted, as well.
RV: I do point out, it is seven o’clock in the evening here.
JF: Oh, yeah, yeah. You’re overdue.
RV: Okay. Nice to talk to you, Jameson.
JF: Okay. My pleasure.
What We’re Tasting podcast, sponsored by Vivino: Wine Made Easy.
The three wines we Talked about today are:
RV: Chateau La Vivonne, 2017, Les Puechs, rosé, Côtes de Provence.
Second wine: Commanderie de la Bargemone, 2017, rosé, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.
Third wine: Chateau Gassier, Cuvée 946, rosé, Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire
JF: Perfect. Thank you so much. You saved me from severe embarrassment of pronunciation.
RV: Oh, as on. I’m sure you can do it.
JF: Find What We’re Tasting on iTunes, Googleplay, or wherever you find podcasts. If you liked today’s episode, please give us a five-star rating on iTunes, leave a comment, and tell your friends.
What We’re Tasting is a Wine Enthusiast podcast. Check out Wine Enthusiast online at winemag.com.