The dry, floral, refreshing roses that hail from Provence have about as much in common with those California wines as a Cabernet has with a glass of icewine.
About the roses of Provence
The Romans brought wine-making to Provence before the birth of Christ, and the region has been carrying on this tradition for more than 2,500 years. Today, Provence crafts more than 1,000 different wines, with rose wines accounting for more than half of the region's production. In fact, Provence is the world's leading producer of dry, rose wines.
Leading government-controlled wine place names (AOC) in Provence include Cotes de Provences, Coteauxd'Aix-en-Provence and Bandol. Traditionally, rose wines from these regions have been made by blending Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan grapes, although more modern winemakers have begun to use Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes in the mix. Roses from Provence are virtually made from blending the juice of several grapes and are easily recognized by their bowling pin-shaped bottles.
Unlike rose wines from other parts of the world, Provencal roses are very dry, with slight hints of strawberries, red currants, lavender and thyme. Provencal roses may be vintage or non-vintage wines.
Pairing Provence roses with food
Rose wines from Provence are a perfect accompaniment to many summer favorites. These wines go well with shrimp and other seafood, cold pasta salads, and garlic-based dishes, such as the "aioli" that's a hallmark of Provencal cuisine. The acidity in Provencal roses also make such wines a good choice for drinking with notoriously difficult to pair ethnic foods, such as Thai, Indian, Lebanese and Chinese.
When you go to the wine store
Many roses of Provence are exported to North America, most commonly the wines from the Bandol region. Depending on the tax situation in your state, expect to pay between $15 and $25 for a bottle of good Provencal rose. Look for the following highly-rated labels:
- Miraval Rose -- Rated a 91/100 by "Decanter" magazine, Miraval rose is produced by Provence's Miraval Winery, a joint venture between the French Perrin wine family and Hollywood A-listers including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
- Chateau d'Esclans Rose Whispering Angel -- This Cotes de Provence rose earned a 90/100 rating from "Wine Spectator" magazine.
For more information on the wines of Provence, visit vins de provence.com, the official website (in English) of the the Provencal wine producing regions.