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Why French rosé wine is more in demand overseas than ever before

For winemakers in Provence, 2020 was a bumper year. They’re celebrating record export growth, with the UK market growing by around 50%. And from these popular Provence wines, rosé has been leading the way.

Lots of new buyers from across Europe have been queuing for the French rosé wines. There has even been a relatively high volume of sales of French wine to the US despite the former president’s trade war.

Exports of French rosé wine rose in 2020

Rosé wine, according to a representative from a Provence wine trade body, is growing in popularity all the time. Just ten years ago, the biggest markets were in France itself and in next door Switzerland and Belgium. Today, it’s extremely popular in other parts of Europe too and in the US and this is likely to spread even further throughout the rest of 2021.

Provence is the specialist French region for producing rosé wines and, as such, is doing well from the last year or so. And the appetite for Rosé in the UK is growing enormously both in value (51%) and volume (50%).

Traditionally, Provence Rosé hasn’t sold well in the UK, but for the past few years it has been increasing year on year. Producers and the trade body believe this is down to the younger generations, with millennials considered the biggest buyers of Rosé wine. There has also been in a shift in when it is being enjoyed by consumers. Rather than only buying Rosé for meals, consumers are increasingly drinking it during summer days, at barbecues or as an evening alternative to a glass of white or red.

Rosé wine from Provence comes with a fresh, dry finish and lightly floral/citrussy flavours. And while sales remained relatively stable to the US as mentioned earlier, the volume of wine making it across the Atlantic did fall by 6% and its value by 9%. Taxes are now suspended thanks to the new administration and it’s likely that figures will recover.

Changing manufacturing and producing methods are improving quality

Wine producing techniques have been changing too, with vineyards in Provence using different mechanics. Harvesting takes place in the cool of the very early morning (think 2am onwards). This leads to cooler grapes and juice compared with harvesting during the sunshine hours.

After the grapes are pressed, Rosé wines now go into specially temperature-controlled vats. These are usually made of stainless steel and have an internal water spraying system that keeps the grapes nice and cool. This has vastly increased the quality of the Rosé wines from this region, which is reflected in their constantly growing popularity.

These new manufacturing methods are the culmination of 20 years of research by a centre that was set up specifically to look at how to improve Rosé wines.

As rosé is still relatively rare in restaurants, and is not most people’s first choice, the impact of COVID-19 hasn’t adversely affected export sales. Conversely, with millions more people staying at home for dinner every day for months on end, wine sales have increased in some areas. In France, however, the increase in home drinking wasn’t enough to compensate for the freefall in restaurant sales.


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