A pinker shade of pale
Rosé is coming of age. After its mad surge in popularity in the mid to late noughties, sales of pink wine have levelled off and consumers are turning to paler-coloured, drier styles that go well with food.
Nielsen figures show rosé sales have fallen 4% by volume, but grown 1% by value in the year to March 1 — and suppliers are confident that drinkers are starting to look beyond the entry-level to more interesting, premium wines.
Provence’s dry, pale pink, food-friendly wines have led the charge, with UK exports soaring 54% by value and 17% by volume to more than 1 million bottles in 2013, according to the region’s generic body, the CIVP.
With prices generally starting around the £8-£9 bracket, it is another sign that consumers’ tastes are maturing and that, rather than simply using sweet entry-level rosés as a stepping stone to more complex premium reds and whites, they are moving on to more interesting rosés as well.
CIVP president François Millo says: “Producers from our region have been aiming for a very delicate colour in rosé, as well as greater elegance. We have seen this influence spread to other regions producing rosé, especially in the south of France. Consumers are looking for primary fruit characteristics, but without the fullness and greater sugar levels seen in some other regions.”
Advini has won new listings for its Provence wines in Asda and Morrisons.
Export manager Cédric Deniset says: “Style-wise, buyers are asking for pale-coloured rosé wines with medium body and abv — preferably up to 13% — and this clearly translates in Provence. When they ask for lookalikes, the wine has to come in a food-friendly Provence style. And the interest doesn’t stop at Provence.
“We’d like to see a broader representation of rosé wines sourced from other French areas,” says Deniset. “Provence prices have been kept under pressure over the past few years as demand from the domestic and international markets has grown steadily. Therefore, there are certainly further opportunities in the near future — for example from Côtes du Rhône, Corbières, south west France or Pays d’Oc.”
Connoisseur Estates director Andrew Steel says: “France is definitely coming back into vogue. In particular the premium, drier styles with little to no residual sugar are in demand — wines that can be consumed on their own but are also fabulous with food. A case in point is our Château d’Anglès rosé, which retails at around £11.99 and is a serious wine from the Languedoc.
“Rosé from Provence is growing in interest year on year, as are our wines from Bordeaux — we are seeing new listings coming forward and the wines are selling really well.”
He adds: “Rosé is at last being treated as a serious wine and not just a light summer quaffing drink. Winemakers are using different grape varieties to produce single varietal styles which show true varietal character and can age as well as having the ability to be consumed on release.
“The wines are a true expression of their terroir and the care and attention that the winemakers are putting into creating them is resulting in more and more recognition in terms of medals and trophies at wine shows around the globe.” Leigh Claridge, sales and marketing director for the UK and Ireland at Maison Sichel, says Provence-style wines are finding favour — as is the rosé from Gascon estate Domaine de Pellehaut.
“Stylistically it ticks all the boxes,” he says. “It tastes sweeter than it actually is, because of the fruit, so it appeals to the dry and medium- dry drinker. It also lasts, offers good value for money and is in screwcap — an absolute must.”
Drier styles from Spain are also growing sales. Alison Easton, wine brand manager at González Byass UK, says: “We are seeing a growing interest in the drier styles from areas such as Rioja and Somontano, where our Beronia and Viñas del Vero brands are performing strongly.
“Rosé is a market of two halves — the sweeter, entry-level rosés and the more serious drier styles, which are great with food as well as on their own. The UK market also has quite strong views on colour.
“We have consciously lightened the colour of our rosés in the past few years to satisfy the UK’s preference for lighter hues. Beronia Rosado, for example, is now the pale and delicate colour the market enjoys.”
Hatch Mansfield marketing director Lynn Murray says: “The lighter styles in terms of colour and flavour profile are our best performing rosés, and they are also drier in style.
“The best performing wines are from France — Macon, southern France – Rioja and South Africa. There is a clear trend towards lighter colours and more delicate wines from the winemakers, in line with the consumer taste.”
Rosé’s most stalwart brand Mateus is trying out a drier style with its new dual varietal Expressions range.
Anthony Habert, marketing manager at distributor Stevens Garnier, says: “There are three rosé wines which cover a spectrum of consumer taste preferences, from drier styles through to the ever- popular medium wines which dominate the category.
“Our Baga/Muscat is particularly well balanced and fragrant — wines with personality are key.”