Among the new rosés that Tesco showed off at their tasting a few weeks ago was a £19 rosé from Provence, Maison No 9. Surprising? Not really. Along with prosecco and New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Provence rosé has been the big success story of the past decade, with sales up by 51% in the past year alone.
And it’s not only at supermarkets. Pubs and restaurants sell it by the bucketload, even when they have cheaper rosés on offer. “I have never found the price of Provence rosé to be a barrier,” says Piers Baker of the heavily wine-focused The Sun Inn at Dedham in Essex. “The attraction is the colour, obviously, but it’s also clean, fresh and undemanding. When people order it they know what they are going to get, which isn’t necessarily true of other wines.”
It makes sense for the producers too, who have found it more profitable to sell rosé that can be released early rather than reds that have to spend time maturing in oak. “When I worked in Bandol in the early 1990s, red wine accounted for the majority of sales,” says Jason Yapp, who sells the high end Mas de la Rouvière rosé for almost the same price as the winery’s red. “Today it is 73% rosé, 22% red and 5% white.”
It might be tempting to dismiss expensive rosé as a cynical rip-off, but there’s no reason why well-crafted rosé shouldn’t merit the same price tag as a well-made red or white. That said, price (as with champagne) is as often related to a celebrity endorsement or a fancy bottle. Maison No 9, which is also available in jeroboams, is a collaboration with American rapper Post Malone. Kylie has her own Provence rosé (for £22 from Harvey Nichols or £15 from Morrisons) which sells for almost twice the price of her basic French rosé, while the team behind the wildly successful Whispering Angel has brought out a second wine, The Palm (below), which wouldn’t look out of place by an LA pool.
If you’re willing to forgo the Provence name, there is better value to be had elsewhere in the south of France. While a shade pinker, Rosé de Balthazar (see today’s picks) is currently about half the price of many Provence rosés, while bargain central Aldi stocks a stylish Ventoux along with the Côtes du Luberon rosé I recommended the other week. As with other types of wine, it pays to shop around.
Five southern French rosés to impress the neighbours
Le Rosé de Balthazar 2020, Languedoc
£5.99 (on offer) Waitrose, 12.5%. Looks and tastes much more expensive than it is. Not Provençal, but could be.
Lafage miraflors rosé 2020 Côtes Catalanes
£10.99 (on offer) Simply Wines Direct, £11.59 allaboutwine.co.uk, 12.5%. There’s a wide discrepancy in prices of this glamorous, frosted bottle, which comes from down on the Spanish border, but these are the best deals. Fresh and citrussy, with a lovely touch of wild strawberry.
Aldi Specially Selected Ventoux Rosé
£6.99, 13%. From the Rhône rather than Provence, but who could tell? A real steal.
The Palm Rosé by Whispering Angel 2020
£13.95 Vineyards Direct, £14.99 Waitrose Cellar, £15 Tesco, 12.5%. If you’re a fan of Whispering Angel, you’ll jump at this slightly cheaper version, clearly designed to be sipped by a pool.
Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé 2020
13% £13.20 a half-bottle Mayfly Wine Co, full bottles from £29.99 Lea & Sandeman, 13%. One of the most iconic rosés. Perfect with Provençal food and can also be aged. Half-bottles are particularly tempting, if you can nail one.