I am just on my way back from a Champagne tasting, hosted by on-trade specialists Matthew Clark. Running from 4 pm onwards it was titled a ‘social’, rather than a ‘tasting’, and I figured it was therefore best to get there early before it got too social. It was a useful time, though, offering me a chance to taste through a range of about 50 fizzes, ranging from regular NVs to some prestige cuvées.
This tasting reinforced to me how similar Champagne and Provence rosé are. Both wines are all about pleasure and fun. Yes, the organoleptic qualities of the bottle content matters, but not as much as we in the wine trade, with our finely honed palates, would like to think. Of course, the wine must be good. Beyond this?
It’s largely about marketing, image, packaging, colour and context: things that we dismiss as distractions when we are trying to ‘taste’, but which are vital parts of the drinking experience for normal people.
Wine trade people have grudgingly acknowledged that Champagne is different for a while now. I reckon they need to see rosé in the same light and Provence rosé is to rosé as Champagne is to sparkling wine – or, at least, it could be. It needs to trade on the exclusive, special image that it has.
The challenge here is that of brand building and communication, and that starts with the packaging, but extends beyond this. The best Champagne brands get this. They are selling people affordable luxury. You may not have Panerai or Breitling on your wrist, you may not be driving a Ferrari or Porsche, but you can afford to drink good Champagne from time to time.
Rosé doesn’t have quite the same image of Champagne. It’s more about fun than luxury. But with Provence rosé the two elements can be combined. Provence has a glamorous image, and Provence makes the world’s best rosé. Glamour and fun combined, with a touch of luxury? It works.