Have you wondered why that delicious Provence rosé keeps you coming back for more?
Unlike their sweeter, darker counterparts around the world, these pale pinks are being haled as seriously good, versatile wines. Not only are they incredibly refreshing on a hot summer’s day, they’re perfectly enjoyable in winter for those of us wanting more flavour than a white wine, but something not as heavy as a red wine. Or perhaps it’s their food pairing ability that really makes them shine?
It’s no accident that the quality of Provence Rosé is getting better and better.
Winemakers in the region have access to scientific data provided by the Rosé Research & Experimentation Centre, which is tucked under the shade of tall plane trees in Vidauban. Sponsored by the CIVP / Vins de Provence, their primary goal is to pinpoint what makes a Provence Rosé a Provence Rosé.
Founded by leaders in the Provence Rosé industry, the centre focuses on different aspects of viticulture, wine making and wine preservation.
For example, the centre has mini fermentation tanks, where they experiment with things like temperatures i.e. what happens to the wine when it’s fermented at 6, 10 or 20 degrees Celsius instead of the usual 16°C. They also experiment with grafting different grape varieties to find naturally strong and resistance vines (non-GMO). Their science lab allows them to examine all the elements of the wine in fine detail. Their mission is to find improvements where possible, and share this information with wine professionals in Provence. Oenologues from other French regions, and the rest of the rosé world, are also turning to them for expertise.
Endless shades of pink
Rosé wine is the only wine that is bought according to its colour, and the only wine that gets bottled in clear glass. Not ideal for preserving the wine, but then again, rosé is designed to be enjoyed within 18 months. Because of this innate rosé quality, the centre has invested a lot into identifying and assessing all the different pinks under the sun.
Spectrophotometry and colourimetry is used to quantify the colour intensity and nuance for reference data. However to make it easier to connect these data visually, the Rosé Research Centre has produced colour references in the form of paper and gel swatches.
Colour swatches are intended for use during competitions and judging as well as educational tools to spread the news about Provence wine, its origin, development and its consumption.
Two colour chart palettes are available (1) broad spectrum for International and other French rosés and (2) paler colours specifically for Provence. For international swatches, the colour indicators are lychee, peach, salmon, apricot, coral, raspberry and cherry and available in 3 tones (light, medium and intense). The Provence colours are described as mandarin, melon, peach, mango, grapefruit and currant.
Paper swatches offer a large choice of colour (intensity and hue) but do not qualify colours, as one is comparing a liquid to an opaque surface. The centre has therefore also developed gel swatches to bring together three sources of colour information (visual observation, semantic description and numerical colour data) that allow professionals to compare and describe rosé wine colour.
During our meeting, centre director Gilles Masson shared an anecdote of when international wine professionals did a blind tasting of rosés to identify which ones came from Provence. Each of the centre’s judges was able to correctly identify all of the Provence rosés! I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising considering theirs is the the only research and experimentation centre in the world that focuses entirely on pink wines.
I’ve seen the importance of rosé colours in the boutique too. It’s very interesting seeing how visitors will look at Pure and then without tasting it say that it’s the wine for them – based solely on its paler colour. And I love seeing the delight on their faces when they taste Classic and realise it’s different to what they’d expect from a slightly darker rosé.
The more I interact with the lovely visitors, the more I realise how wine enjoyment is a personal thing. Not only is the quality of wine critical, but our enjoyment is strongly affected by the company we’re with, the experience we’re having and what we have (or haven’t) eaten.
As a visual person, one of my favourite things about rosé wine is the colour. I adore how it dances in the light in my glass. And with the crisp, fruity, elegant taste I feel compelled to grab another glass. I take my hat off to everyone involved in making this liquid sunshine the best it can be. Merci beaucoup !