Summer 2013 – Rosé Time
In a recent article in the Napa Register, Underground contributing editor Allen R. Balik wrote about rosé in an article entitled “Rosé – It’s Time Has Come”. The article offers a very good insight as to the history of rosé in the U.S. market and is reprinted below:
Rosé may be the most misunderstood and underappreciated category on restaurant wine lists and retail shelves. Even today, most people think of rosé as a simple inexpensive (i.e. cheap) sweet wine. Nothing could be further from the truth, and with summer approaching, now is the time to discover these treasures.
Despite a tarnished image, dry rosé is rapidly gaining in popularity and today represents one of the fastest growing segments in the market although against a relatively small base. It is seen by many avid consumers and those in the trade as one of the most versatile wines with an affinity for a wide variety of cuisine enjoyed in an abundance of settings.
In the Tavel appellation of France’s Southern Rhone 100 percent of the wine produced is rosé and reputed to have been the favorite wine of kings, Popes, novelists and intellectuals dating many centuries. In Champagne, the rosé offerings usually command top dollar in the portfolios of the most prestigious producers. And throughout most of Europe it is rosé that ushers in the festive summer season.
So how did these stellar wines develop such a negative connotation in the U.S., and was it ever warranted?
In the 1960s, rosé entered the popular U.S. market with sweet slightly sparkling Portuguese imports such as Lancers and Mateus. At that time, Cold Duck also became a “sparkling” success. Then in the late 1970s came the era of white zinfandel to firmly entrench rosé with a far different image than its illustrious European history should have dictated.
Because these rosés were really only rosé in color the trade began to refer to the wines as “blush” and they continued to appeal to the American consumers’ taste for often insipid sweet wines. Only recently did dry rosé gain a foothold in the market and is now dramatically changing America’s perception.
Rosé is a stalwart of the old world (aka Europe), and is produced in virtually all wine growing countries. It is typically made in the traditional method of allowing fermentation of red berries to proceed for a short period of time on the skins to extract some color. The juice is then taken off the skins and fermentation continues as with a white wine.
Another method of production more common to the U.S. is saignée where a portion of the juice of fermenting red wine is bled off during the early stages and continues fermentation on its own. Saignée also serves to concentrate the fermenting red wine by deepening its color and extraction.
A third method (not permitted in the EU except for Champagne) is legal in the U.S. Here, red and white wines are merely blended. In Champagne this usually occurs by adding some still pinot noir just prior to the secondary fermentation (in the bottle) where the bubbles are produced.
The time for dry rosé in the U.S. has truly arrived, and you’ll find a wide variety of styles and varietal compositions from pinot noir to syrah, grenache and more. Each varietal lends its own refreshing bouquet and flavors from raspberry to cherry and strawberry for your summertime pleasure.
Rosé has long been a favorite wine in our household. For decades I have recommended rosés to friends who would at first scoff, only to become major rosé lovers in short order. I have also written about its virtues as a great accompaniment to food for a very long time and many articles are available on the Underground website. Here is one that speaks to why rosé is so attractive click here . And, here is the first article on 2012 rosés click here. 
Once again confirming the increasing popularity of dry rosé, this report sent out earlier this year by The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), known in the United States as the Provence Wine Council, details the growing trend. Take a look:
Provence Rosé Exports to the U.S.
and Imported Rosé Retail Sales
Each Grow at Double-Digit Rates, Extending Multi-Year Trends
Rosé sales volumes grow at 15 times the rate of total table wines in the U.S. during 2012
(New York, NY, February 19, 2013) – Two reports released in January 2013 confirm that the imported rosé wine category continues to see dynamic growth and rising popularity in the United States. One study measures annual sales of imported rosé at retail, while the other reports on exports of rosé from Provence, France – the world’s rosé capital – to the United States. Viewed together, the numbers tell a story of rosé growth that continues to far outpace the U.S. wine market as a whole.
Provence Rosé Exports Up 41%
Exports of rosé wines from Provence to the U.S. jumped 41% on volume and 43% on value from November 2011 to November 2012, according to the CIVP/Provence Wine Council and the French customs agency. This comes on top of a 62% jump in volume one year ago. Provence rosé exports to the U.S. have grown at double-digit rates each year since 2003 (see chart below).
“Export volumes of Provence rosé to the United States remain at an all-time high,” said Julie Peterson of the CIVP/Provence Wine Council’s U.S. trade office. “This means not only that Provence’s gold standard dry rosé continues to grow in popularity, but also that access to the wines of Provence in the U.S. market is better now than ever.”
Provence, the oldest winegrowing area in France, is the largest wine region specializing in AOC rosé wine worldwide (88% of AOC wines produced here are rosés). Made from red grapes, Provence rosés are crisp and elegant, pairing well with a variety of foods.
Data sources: CIVP and French customs agency
Imported Rosé Sales Volumes Grow by 28%
The French export data is reinforced by retail sales data released by research firm Nielsen. U.S. retail sales of imported rosé wines priced at or above $12 a bottle grew by 28% on volume and 23% on dollars in 2012. This is compared to 1.8% on volume and 4.8% on dollars for total U.S. retail table wine sales, giving premium imported rosés a growth rate more than 15 times that of total table wine sales, on volume.
Premium imported rosé sales have grown at double-digit rates in the U.S. for at least eight years – as long as Nielsen has been tracking this as a separate segment at retail.
The Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), known in the United States as the Provence Wine Council, is an organization representing more than 600 wine producers and 40 trade companies from the Provence region of France. Its mission is to promote and advance the wines of the region’s principal appellations. The organization’s members together produce 96 percent of Provence’s Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) wines. More information can be found online at www.winesofprovence.com  or www.facebook.com/winesofprovence  or http://twitter.com/winesofprovence .
Joan Brower/Janet Bartucci
The Dilenschneider Group, Inc.
MetLife Building, 200 Park Avenue, 26th Floor
New York, NY 10166
Tel.: 212-922-0900; Fax: 212-922-0971
Julie Peterson/Carlene Hastings
Vins de Provence – U.S. Office
1025 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, Suite 420 East
Washington, DC 20007
So it seems that a lot of wine drinkers are getting into rosé. If you haven’t tried rosé, now is the time. The 2012s have arrived and they are delicious. This is yet another confirmation of what I have always said: For the many years that I have been drinking rosés, there has never been a vintage that did not produce an abundance of delicious wines. The Underground will have more notes and commentary on 2012 rosé very soon. Stay tuned to the Underground and treat yourself to some delicious 2012 rosés! It’s a win/win!!
In Vino Veritas,