This second rosé round-up of the summer is devoted to Provence, plus five wines from the south of France. Why hive off Provence from the rest of the world’s rosés? In a large part it’s to make the two articles more digestible: there are 17 pinks reviewed below (a selection of the wines I tasted).
But it’s also because Provence is in a league of its own, commercially as well as in the way it has set standards, benchmarks and a model for rosé worldwide. The vineyards, which stretch across about 120 miles, produced more than 150 million bottles of rosé in 2020 (and less than 15m of red and white, but some of the whites especially are excellent).
Last year's crop was reduced by about 10% by frosts that hit all French wine regions in April, but that's still a lot of rosé from a lot of producers – around 500 independent wineries, 60 co-operatives and 90 négociants (merchants)
Chill well, keep out of sunlight and don't forget the food Provence rosés are wonderful wines for hot weather, but they do need chilling well and to be kept cold while you're making your way down the bottle. You also need to keep clear glass bottles out of sunlight, whether it's hot or not, because the wine can be damaged within minutes by a phenomenon known as light strike.
It helps if you can chill your glasses as well as the wine. Swirl a couple of ice cubes around the inside if you haven't got room in your fridge or freezer. And, yes, you can always sling a cube or two of ice into the wine itself to cool it down, preferably fishing it out with a spoon before it melts completely.
Don't forget these are good food wines, especially with the sort of food you're likely to be eating in hot weather.
Among the wines I tasted but haven't included are three vintages of Miraval Muse. I gave 92.5 points to both the 2018 and 2020 and 93 to the 2019, but they were 5cl samples of a wine that comes only in magnums at an rrp of £280 (per magnum). At that sort of price, I would want to have tasted at least one of these from its magnum. As a point of interest, the pale pink 2020 had more colour than the other two vintages and all three of the more realistically priced, but barely pink Miraval wines reviewed below, which were also 50cl samples.
All wines are 2021 vintage, but Provence and southern French rosés, particularly the ones partly vinified in oak and the more expensive, often benefit from some time in bottle. All wines are dry.
Wines are listed in descending order of points. Where wines have equal points, they're in ascending order of price. 93 and above is gold; 89–92 is silver; 85–88 is bronze. Bottle weights, where given, are for the empty bottle.
The light-blocking amber glass – 70% recycled – that protects this new Provence wine so much better than the clear glass favoured by rosé producers worldwide; and the ultra-lightweight plastic bottle of Nomade, the other wine from Château Galoupet, a rejuvenated Provence estate aiming to be a beacon of biodiversity and sustainability
Château Galoupet Cru Classé Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence
From an old estate bought by Moët Hennessy in 2019 and described as a sanctuary of biodiversity. As well as 66 hectares of vineyard, now in organic conversion, there are 77 ha of protected woodland, home to indigenous and rare flora and more than 90 species of fauna, which are all now part of a longterm regeneration action plan, which has already seen the introduction of 200 beehives and, each spring, a queen bee fertilisation station, one of only a dozen in the world. I could go on but this is supposed to be a tasting note, so here it is.
49% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Tibouren, 12% Rolle, 7% Cinsault and 2% combined Mourvèdre, Cabernet and Sémillon. 38% of the wines were vinified and aged for 4–5 months in 600-l oak barrels (half new, half second fill) before the blend was done at the end of January.
Pale salmon, with a captivating nose of sweet berries, nuts, spice and floral notes. An intense, rich palate of ripe apricot, orange conserve and minerals, with acidity and a briny, oystershell saltiness integrated into the glossy, creamy texture. Weighty, rich and concentrated, but there’s length, elegance and freshness. A good rosé for food. It went very well with chicken in a crème fraiche sauce with caramelised roast shallots and garlic and with roast aubergine wedges flavoured with caraway seeds. I’d happily eat it with lamb. 14%. Natural wax-topped amber glass bottle (70% recycled glass) weighing 499g. 94
£45, Berry Bros & Rudd; £46, Clos19; £49.90, Hedonism; £247.67 for 6, Mann Fine Wine
Domaine Montrose 1701 Rosé 2021, Côtes de Thongue
Named after the year that Domaine Montrose was founded by the family that still owns and runs it. An unusual blend of Grenache Noir (85%) and Roussanne, the best grapes from two volcanic soils; part aged in stainless steel, part in new French oak barrels. Very pale, barely pink. Vinous and layered with the nuttiness of oak and umami seaweed notes moving into mirabelle plum and pink grapefruit. A lovely, complex rosé and very good value. 13.5%. 93
£20.47, Justerini & Brooks
Rock Angel 2021, Côtes de Provence
Usually Caves D’Esclan’s Rock Angel is a sizeable step up from its Whispering Angel, but the latter (below) is so successful in 2021 that the gap is closer. The very pale Rock Angel – mainly Grenache and Rolle (aka Vermentino) and partly fermented in large (600-l) oak barrels – is tighter, more architectural, textural and vinous, nodding towards Chablis. The flavour profile stretches across savoury oyster brine, apricot and red berries, citrus and nuts. A good food wine, but deserves more time and will probably earn a higher score (hence the 92-plus). 13.5%. 602g. 92+
£24.95–£26, Clos19, Waitrose
Whispering Angel Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence
Glowing pale salmon; drifts of almond blossom, rose, red berries, vanilla and exotic spice; fine-textured and finely structured palate with salted-almond and citrus peel length. Medium weight. A very impressive vintage for this giant in brand and volume terms from Caves D’Esclans. 13%. 578g. 92
£16–£21, widely available, including, Hennings Wine, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Laithwaites, Amazon
Domaine Montrose Prestige Rosé 2021, Côtes de Thongue
Saignée rosé made from old vines – Grenache (85%) and Rolle (Vermentino) – grown on volcanic and villafranchian soils (the latter have large pebbles), aged on lees and partly vinified and aged in French oak barrels. Very pale; fragrant with floral and spice notes and a hint of pine forest. Beautifully creamy texture etched with mandarin, spices again and a long, dry, saline, citrus finish. Impressive and delicious. Very good value. 13%. Vinolok glass stopper. 91.5
£11.17, Justerini & Brooks
Le Rosé Secret de Léoube 2021, Côtes de Provence
Very pale, barely there pink. Heady perfume of roses followed by fraises des bois, pomegranate and breezy, salty sea spray. Succulent fruit, substance and texture on the palate combined with elegance, energy and a long line of citrus, saline and wet rocks minerality. A good food wine. Went well with veal chop, stuffed vine leaves and green olive tapenade. 13.5%. 517g. 91.5
£28.20, Vinvm; Vinatis UK; £18.95, Davy’s
Domaine de l’Ile Porquerolles Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence
A blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Tibouren from the tiny, wind-swept island of Porquerolles off the coast of Provence. Pale but distinct salmon colour; spice and ocean-breeze aromas, with orange zest, ripe mirabelle and wild strawberry fruit, sweet almond spiciness, sun-baked earth, wild herbs and an ocean-breeze edge. Airy and full of interest (read more in the piece I wrote last summer about the estate and why Chanel bought it). 13%. 91
£20.17, Justerini & Brooks; £21, Berry Bros & Rudd
Miraval Sainte Victoire Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence Saint-Victoire
Just the very slightest hint of pink in this Grenache Cinsault blend from the more continental micro-climate of the Sainte-Victoire sub-region that sits at the foot of the Sainte-Victoire Mountain. Floral and citrus aromas a with murmur of red berries. Fine-boned, silky, delicately lees-enriched palate with a streak of grapefruit bitterness and acidity. 13%. Screwcap. 91
Domaine Lafage Miraflors Rosé 2021, Côtes Catalanes
Mourvèdre, Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir (50:30:20) from galets roulés soils close to the Mediterranean. Very pale powder-pink. Pretty, floral aromas with a drift of the perfumed nuttiness of basmati rice. Sweet strawberryish red-berry fruit, orange zest and a touch of spice, delicate silky texture and a spine of acidity. So drinkable! Went down well with a smoked sausage (saucisse de Morteau) and judion butter beans. 12.5%. 638g. Vinolok glass stopper. 90
£12.96, Drinks & Co; £15.32, Gourmet Hunters; £15.70, vinissimus
Château Léoube 2021, Côtes de Provence
Classic very pale salmon colour, with almond blossom, peach, summer pudding and citrus on the nose and a generous but elegant palate with a streak of spice and a fresh, saline finish. 13%. 90
£17.50, Vinvm; £18.95, Davy’s
Château Galoupet Nomade 2021, Côtes de Provence
A companion to the Galoupet Cru Classé (above) and in an equally striking bottle. This one is flat, ultra light (63g), made from recycled plastic (Prevented Ocean Plastic), itself recyclable, and has a screw cap. And the wine is good too: pale and delicately scented with sweet, floral notes, wild strawberries and whisps of vanilla and jasmine; a fresh, satin-smooth palate with red berries and grapefruit splashed with spice and salinity. Dry, but not austerely dry. Very Provence, very appealing. 13.5%. 63g. Screwcap. 90
£23, Clos19, £150 for 6, Millésima
Miraval Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence
A barely pink blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle.
Delicately floral and spicy aromas joined by citrus, red apple and minerals on the palate. Supple texture and a lively, salty, pine resin flecked finish. 13%. 89.5
£14.99 in a six-bottle mix, Majestic: £19, Sainsbury’s
Mirabeau Étoile Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire
Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah (70:20:10). Pale, perfumy and silky but with a bit of backbone and minerality underpinning the redcurrant, citrus and herb notes. Slightly tight-lipped but will probably relax (tasted on 22.5.22). 12.5%. 654g. 88.5
Studio By Miraval Rosé 2021, Méditerranée, France
Yet another ultra pale, barely pink rosé from Miraval, a blend of equal amounts of Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle and Tibouren from vineyards along the Riviera from the mouth of the Rhône to Monaco. Quite a heady, sweet perfume, then Mediterranean herbs and pine. Supple, citrus-accented palate with a touch of almost ripe greengage. Medium length. 13%. Screwcap. 88
Mirabeau Classic Rosé 2021, Cotes de Provence
Pretty nose of red summer berries with orange juiciness and zest. Quite generous on the palate and appetisingly fresh. Went well with stuffed vines leaves and wasn’t floored by slow-baked lamb shanks and roast endives. 13%. Screwcap. 88
£13, Waitrose, Ocado
Selladore en Provence Rosé 2021, Côtes de Provence
Called Williams Chase until the 2020 vintage, this comes from the Chase family’s Domaine Saint-Jean de Villecroze and is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault with 10% Rolle (aka Vermentino). Pretty, pale salmon with a slightly bubble-gummy cherry nose. Rounded, fresh palate with citrus and ripe summer berry fruit. Dry without being aggressively bone-dry. Strikingly packaged and easy to drink. 13%. 724g. Vinolok glass stopper. 88
£15.95, Fareham Wine Cellar
Mirabeau Belle Année Rosé 2021, France
A pale salmon blend of Grenache and Syrah (60:40). Crisp, light, grapefruit, raspberry and red currant fruit. Slightly tart. Quite simple. Drink within the year. 12.5%. 86
£10, Tesco, £11 Ocado
Photographs by Joanna Simon
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