Rosé wine is a hit for many wine lovers anytime of the year. While it may seem that its popularity has risen dramatically over the years , the reality is that rosé wine has been appreciated globally for centuries. Yet, one country’s expression of this style of wine can differ from another. Although rosé is made in almost every wine region across the globe, the benchmark is usually a classic French rosé.
The French set the bar for this refreshing pink-hued wine. French rosé offers a range of styles, including fruit-driven, simple, crisp rosé to deep coloured complex styles. Below, we will discuss how French rosé became so popular and explore regions renowned for this ever so popular style of wine.
Why is French Rosé So Popular?
Although this wine’s popularity has soared globally in the last decade, France continues to dominate when it comes to rosé wine production. The Provence region was responsible for producing 38% of France’s rosé wine in 2020 alone. While in 2019, France produced approximately 34% of rosé wine’s global output.
Originating in Ancient Greece, it is believed that the Phocaeans introduced the Marseille region to rosé winemaking techniques in the sixth century. Later the Romans used their trade networks to make these pink-hued wines popular around the Mediterranean. This began southern France’s reputation for producing rosé and is why it’s considered the epicentre of rosé wine.
Today, many wine regions worldwide produce and export rosé, including Italy and the United States. But, many wine enthusiasts associate rosé with the Provence style of rosé wine. Known for its iconic pale, dusty pink colour, the Provence region is home to some high-quality French rosé wines.
As demand for this wine grew, many French winemakers responded by creating a wider range of styles and varieties of rosé enjoyed today by many worldwide.
Rosé Wine by Region: Exploring France
While many gravitate towards Provence rosé wine, several regions across France deserve recognition for their craftsmanship of beautiful and diverse expressions of this pink wine style.
French rosé winemakers from Provence typically blend Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah to make light coloured rosé with simple notes of light red fruits and sometimes a savoury note on the palate.
As we mentioned above, it is a Provence rosé that is mostly thought of when we think of French rosé. As a wine region, Provence has four appellations that produce rosé wine in various ways giving each one a unique identity and flavour profile:
- Coteaux d’Aix en Provence: Winemakers in this appellation add the Cabernet Sauvignon grape as part of their French rosé blend. This provides the wine with more structure and body.
- Côtes de Provence: The Côtes de Provence rosé is classically simple, crisp and fruit-forward. It displays the iconic red fruit aromas and is a beautiful summer sipper.
- Coteaux Varois en Provence: Balanced, aromatic, and rounded are some words that you can describe this appellation’s take on rosé wine.
- Bandol: With the addition of Mourvèdre grapes, the Bandol appellation is the most complex expression. The Mourvèdre grape has thick skins and adds an aromatic profile to the wine that gives more weight and heavier mouth feel.
While Bordeaux is more famously known for its red wines, winemakers in this region produce excellent rosés. Many vineyards are now designated for world-class rosé production.
These pink wines use classic Bordeaux blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Carmenère. The resulting wines are fresh, crisp, fruity, pale-coloured, and have good structure. Bordeaux rosé wine is known for its strawberry, pink grapefruit, and red currant aroma.
This French wine region is known for its diversity, making it the perfect region for producing an adventurous rosé wine. Many of the vineyards surrounding the central Loire produce fantastic French rosés.
Like Provence, the Loire Valley has several appellations that provide various versions of the classic rosé wine. For example, a Sancerre rosé is known for its rich cherry flavours and mineral texture. Rosés from the Touraine appellation are excellent for pairing thanks to the wine’s hint of spice and red currants. On the other hand, a Val de Loire rosé is a style that is immediately drinkable, and lightly textured.
French rosés from the Rhone Valley are worthy summertime refreshments while also being age-worthy wines. Commonly made using the Grenache grape, these lively wines offer a broad spectrum of varying styles. It is not unusual for a Rhone Valley rosé to provide an intense pink colour.
Rosé wine is largely produced in two growing regions in the Rhone Valley: Tavel and Costières de Nîmes. A Tavel rosé is known for its intense dark pink colour (fuchsia), light tannins, red-fruit flavours, and hints of earth and spice. These wines are often considered closer to a delicate red wine than a Provence rosé.
Costières de Nîmes winemakers produce juicy rosé wines that offer fresh watermelon flavours. Its flavour profile is influenced by the region’s proximity to the Mediterranean. Rosés from vineyards at a higher altitude also include flavours such as raspberry and sour cherry.
Food Pairings: How to Pair French Rosé
A French rosé wine’s fruity nature and high acid means that it is an extremely food-friendly wine. There are plenty of pairing options that you can choose from when serving a rosé wine this summer. Let’s take a look at some of the food pairings you can explore:
- Provence rosé: While this wine is delicious on its own, if served during the summer, consider pairing it with grilled eggplant or an olive tapenade crostini. The acidity of the wine also means it pairs excellently with a creamy goat’s cheese or smoked salmon.
- Bordeaux rosé: A fresh and fruity Bordeaux rosé pairs best with light courses such as a tomato and goat’s cheese tart, tapas, or grilled fish. For a sweet pairing, serve with a mixed fruit pavlova.
- Loire Valley rosé: Loire Valley rosés are ideal for summer barbeques. Think grilled lamb and vegetable kebabs with pomegranate tabbouleh and tzatziki.
- Rhone Valley rosé: Another perfect pairing for those warm summer evenings spent around a barbecue with friends. Rosés from Rhone Valley pair beautifully with lighter grilled meats, particularly sausage or pork chops.
A Refreshing French Rosé Wine to Taste This Year
It won’t be long until we are sitting on sun-drenched terraces in the company of friends during the summer months. If you are looking for a refreshing French rosé wine to taste this year, our team highly recommends a Baudry Dutour Cuvee Marie Justine Rosé 2020 from Loire Valley.
With an intense aroma profile of peach and citrus, this salmon-hued wine offers excellent fruit concentration and crisp, refreshing acidity. This versatile wine can be paired with various dishes ranging from those light summer salads to grilled prawns, poultry, red and game meat.