It is little wonder that when Brad and Angelina decided to add a high-profile wine to their growing family, they decided to make it a glamorous pink one — a pricey rosé from Provence, their home away from home and site of the annual Cannes Film Festival, where both have trod the red carpet for many years as actors, directors, producers, and all-around celebrities. (The wine, Château Miraval, was made by Marc Perrin, of the famous winemaking family that owns Château de Beaucastel in the southern Rhône, Tablas Creek in California, and other blue-ribbon properties.)
While most wine regions treat rosé as icing on the cake — a bit of fun wedged in between a collection of reds and whites that are considered their “serious wines” — in Provence, though there are certainly good reds and whites made as well, rosé is the serious wine.
The climate — hot and dry but with cooling winds — emphasizes fruitiness, but balances it with acidity. And just as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, and merlot are ideal grapes for premium red wines in other regions, so are grenache and syrah, along with cinsault, mourvèdre, and carignan, ideal for making delectable Mediterranean pink wines.
Here is a gallery of a dozen, in a varied price range, worth trying.
Château Beaulieu Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2014 ($14). Tart fruitiness meets savory garrigue — a flexible wine that would go well with sandwiches and most picnic fare.
Château Coussin “Sainte-Victoire” Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($17). Close your eyes and you’re drinking a fruity but balanced white wine with light but defining tannins around the edges. Pair this with summer salads flecked with poultry or seafood.
Château de Brigue Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($12). Not complex, but very luscious, with lots of fruity creaminess. This would be a very nice wine to sip next to a bowl of fresh and dried fruits.
Château de Saint-Martin “Eternelle Favourite” Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($21). An excellent pink — rich and gamey, like a reserve Champagne, robust yet civilized with great depth and long flavor. Would love it with foie gras, but any elegant pâté would do.
Château les Valentines “Caprice de Clementines” Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($18). This cinsault-grenache blend dances high across the palate — fresh, but with candied fruit drops flavors and hints of orange. Nice with thinly sliced aged hams.
Château Saint-Maur “Excellence” Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($60). This wine is so delicate and elegant that it takes a second sip to get its true import — a combination of fresh-cut citrus and wood strawberries with a mild salinity that would pair it very well with good caviar.
Château Vignelaure “La Source” Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2014 ($17). Lots of red cherries, but also an undertaste of fresh-baked brioche from an inventive blend of cabernet sauvignon mixed in with grenache, cinsault, and syrah. Great match for creamy fruit tarts.
Chêne Bleu Vaucluse Rosé 2014 ($30). Technically a Rhône wine from a Provence setting, it has great fruit fragrance and is very lively and lean, with tart strawberries, good minerality, and crisp acidity. Match this with passed tapas at your poolside party.
Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($18). This is a full-bodied wine, but one with good structure and freshness. It has plump fruit — strawberries and citrus — with pleasant, prickly bitters around the edges. If you love spritzers, this is your pink!
Jean-Luc Colombo “Cape Bleue” Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2014 ($12). Colombo is known for his Rhône reds, but this wine comes from hills overlooking the port of Marseilles. A blend of two-thirds syrah and one-third mourvèdre, it is soft on the palate with cloudy creaminess, yet has good finishing acidity. Try it alongside a bowl of fresh-cut fruits with a splash of Cointreau.
La Villa Barton Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013 ($20). This is an excellent wine, one that would go great with a fancy weekend buffet. It is quite complex and refreshing — full, creamy, yet very spicy, with lots of citrus and a finish of gamy and savory notes. As vibrant as its apricot color.
“Pure Provence” Côtes de Provence Rosé 2014 ($15). Roughly two-thirds grenache, with syrah and a bit of cinsault (some vintages substitute a white-wine variety, rolle, which is Italy's vermentino with a French accent), this one is almost iridescent pink in color, with hints of peach or apricot and a faint whiff of Provençal herbs. It works well with Asian-inflected dishes (soy, ginger, and lemongrass play off it well).