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Côtes de Provence rosé 2013: panel tasting results

Decanter experts give their verdict, tasting notes and drinking windows on Côtes de Provence rosé 2013.

Provence is known for its rosés, but it was not always so. Until the mid-19th century, pink wines were made by default rather than intention. As winemaking improved, two styles of rosé started to emerge, a pale vin gris and a darker rosé. Tavel, in the southern Rhône, a benchmark for producers, was described in 1826 as being a red wine with ‘bright rose colour, flavour and aroma, delicate’. As red wines became deeper red and more concentrated, often by bleeding off (saignée) some of the juice, a pale red wine was left for local consumption.

Provence rosé developed as a wine for drinking in hot weather and with robust, garlic-laden food, and those wines with good body and flavour have a very distinctive style compared to many other rosés which are more fruit/varietal driven. Regional style rather than colour should mean there is a market for a range of different styles.

Provence rosé has evolved into a dry wine with fresh fruit aromas, good ripe weight, crisp acidity and a huge variety of shades of pink, ranging from bluish-pink, pink-red, orange, tawny-pink, bright pink to almost white. Colour descriptions originally included ‘onion skin’ and ‘salmon’, but these savoury descriptors are now regarded as detracting, so the Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé in Vidauban introduced fruit colours such as peach, mango, redcurrant and melon.

The complexity of rosé, with its colour variations and different regional styles, makes it one of the more difficult wines for producers to get right. As such our tasters found it impossible to define a Provençal style of rosé, but one message emerged loud and clear: don’t assume the palest wines will be the most elegant and the highest quality. See our top 33 rosés here…

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