Call it la vie en rosé. From the Upper East Side to the Hamptons, rosé—and in particular Provençal rosé—is in the pink. Provençal rosé exports to the US rose by 41 percent from November 2011 to November 2012 (the latest figures available). “You can’t call it a phenomenon anymore,” says veteran New York importer Neal Rosenthal, who was onto the wine’s potential long ago and now has one of the best rosé portfolios in America.
The wine, once thought of as the mindless preface to an August of summer lunches, has acquired a striking aura of celebrity, connoisseurship, and (sigh) vanity: Ben Watts, photographer brother of actress Naomi, is producing a wine called Watts Up Rosé. Hopefully, when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do marry, they’ll serve the 2011 Pink Floyd rosé from Château Miraval, their 1,000-acre estate in Provence. (The wine is named in honor of the band, which recorded parts of The Wall there in the 1970s.)
Then there is Sacha Lichine, a wine-world celebrity, the son of the late Alexis Lichine, an influential 20th-century figure in French wine. He is behind Chateau d’Esclans, which makes a single cuvée Provençal rosé called Garrus that is barrel fermented; made by a titan, Patrick Léon, the former winemaker at Château Mouton Rothschild; produced in miniscule quantities; and sells for around $100 a bottle at retail. (Many rosés—and some very good ones, among them d’Esclans basic version, Whispering Angel—sell for $10 to $20 a bottle.) The Wine Spectator awarded the 2 010 Garrus 91 points. The château’s wines have appeared on wine lists at Le Bernardin, Le Grenouille, and Lure Fishbar.
There’s a color line when it comes to rosé. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer rosés with a delicate pink hue to the ruddier complexioned, more robust versions. (You can see the official rosé color palette at Vins de Provence.) The epitome of the former is Château Peyrassol, which Neil Rosenthal says sells out year after year “with zero marketing.” That’s crowd sourcing for you.
BY GARY WALTHER