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Rosé has rosy future in France

More and more French wine buyers are turning to rosé at the expense of red wine, latest reports say.

The national French wine board Onivins reported on Monday that rosé sales were ‘dynamic’ from January to April this year, increasing 2.4% in volume and 2.8% in value at large supermarkets, where the majority of French consumers buy wine.

Meanwhile sales of red wines in France fell 2% in volume and over 2.5% in value, while white wine sales remained stable.

‘Rosé is better for easy drinking,’ report author Christian Melani said. ‘You can put some ice in your wine, and no one will call you a heretic, even if it is a very high quality rosé.’

He added, ‘More French winemaking regions not traditionally known for rosé are now making it.’ This includes Bordeaux, France’s most venerable red wine making region.

According to the CIVB, the Bordeaux wine trade body, rosé production has increased over the last 8 years – 2004 showing the biggest production since it began compiling statistics in 1948.

In 2004, 180,722hl of rosé were produced, compared to 77,000hl in 1996. In 2003, one of the hottest years and smallest harvests on record, 128,862hl were produced.

At least three venerable cru classés have jumped on the pink-colored wine bandwagon.

For the first time ever, Chateau Kirwan in Margaux released rosé, selling for between €5 to €7. ‘We decided to make it because we had high yields and wanted to sell it to our loyal customers,’ said Marielle Didry of Chateau Kirwan, which released some 8000 bottles of its Le Rose de Kirwan.

‘It was not really done in a commercial spirit, but it was so successful at Vinexpo, we may consider doing this regularly if yields permit,’ she said.

Chateau Giscours, another classed growth from Margaux, released 20,000 bottles of rosé in 2004, its first since 1997. ‘Our clients, particularly in Asia, but also in Holland and France, are buying it,’ said the chateau’s Laure Bastard. ‘It is a quite festive drink and certainly in demand.’

‘People seem to be jumping all over rosé this year,’ remarked Florence Cathiard of the celebrated cru classé Château Smith Haut Lafitte, which has been selling rosé for the last five years.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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