With the longest day of the year just a few weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about the best French wines to drink this summer. Whether you’re planning to relax by the pool, head to the beach, or light up the barbecue, our favourite way to celebrate summer is with a glass or two of our top French rosé wines.
- Provençal Rosé
Many of the best French rosés come from the region of Provence in South of France which is famous for its aromatic purple lavender fields and gorgeous sun-drenched beaches. Drinking a Provencal rosé is kind of like going on vacation without even leaving home thanks to the summery ripe fruit flavours and refreshingly crisp acidity.
Unlike the fruiter, sweeter rosés found in New World countries like Chile, Australia and the United States, rosé from Provence is almost always bone dry with an incredibly delicate pale pink or orange hue. These are elegant wines which often display a complex flavour profile including hints of orange peel, dried Mediterranean herbs, grapefruit, crushed strawberries and raspberries as well as fennel or green peppers.
The best Provençal rosés are made with local grape varieties like Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Syrah in a fresh, light style that is both easy to drink and incredibly versatile when it comes to pairing with food. Ideal summer matches for this gastronomic rosé include a generous platter of fruits de mer, the classic Provençal fish soup bouillabaisse or even lobster grilled on the barbecue. As a general rule, it’s better to stick to lighter dishes to avoid overwhelming the subtle character of the rosé.
- Rosé d’Anjou
If you prefer your rosé with a kiss of sweetness, you’ll love the Rosé d’Anjou which is an off-dry wine made close to the historic city of Angers in the picturesque Loire Valley. These pink wines are usually made with the favorite local grape variety, Cabernet Franc, although you may also find a dash of Grolleau, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Malbec in the blend.
In most cases the sugar levels are never more than 20 grams per litre, so this gentle hint of sweetness makes Rosé d’Anjou an ideal choice for an aperitif. On the nose you’ll probably find seductive aromas of mint, rose petals, strawberries and gooseberries, while the palate is full of ripe red fruit flavours and a vibrant acidity to balance the slight sweetness.
Like the Provençal rosés, Rosé d’Anjou also makes a show-stopping companion for all manner of dishes. The gentle sweetness means you can easily pair this with spicy Asian salads or chicken enchiladas and it also works beautifully with dishes involving fruit like prosciutto and melon.
- Pink Champagne
Planning a special summer party? Then why not delight your guests by serving up some Rosé Champagne! That stunning salmon pink colour and generous stream of bubbles you find in pink Champagne says celebration and luxury like nothing else.
Rosé Champagne is also unique as it’s actually the only French rosé which is made by blending a very small amount of red wine with white Champagne to give that spectacular jewel-like pink hue. In the Champagne region winemakers usually work with the three main local grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Pink Champagnes may be a blend of all three of these, but usually Champagne houses add a little Pinot Noir red wine to add colour.
Another way of making Rosé Champagne is by a process called “Saignée” or “bleeding”. In this method the grape must is left in contact with the grape skins for a short period. Since the grape skins is where most of the colour of red wines comes from, this process produces a pink-coloured wine.
Thanks to the robust flavours and refreshing bubbles, Rosé Champagne makes a great match for dishes like Beetroot Risotto, Oven-roasted Chicken or Braised Pork. It’s also a fabulous match for crab, lobster and freshly-caught shrimp.
- Burgundian Rosé
Burgundy might be best known for its breathtaking red Pinot Noirs and incredibly refined Chardonnays, but the region is also home to some surprising under-the-radar rosés. The village of Marsannay in the Côte de Nuits is the only Burgundian appellation to produce red, white and rosé wines and one-third of their production is dedicated to rosé.
Since they’re made with the same Pinot Noir grapes that go into some of Burgundy’s finest red wines, these rosés are rather special and can usually be aged for several years to add extra complexity and finesse. Typical aromas include morello cherry, strawberry, blackcurrants and hints of gooseberries and peaches.
Thanks to their typically crisp acidity and enticing fruit flavours, Burgundian rosés are perfect for sipping as an aperitif. They are also a great choice to serve throughout the meal if you don’t want the headache of having to choose a different wine for each course. Try starting off with a fresh leafy salad or platter of seafood before moving to a light chicken dish or pan-fried fish accompanied by Mediterranean vegetables.
- Tavel Rosé
Tucked away in the Rhone Valley is the small wine region of Tavel which sits just to the north of the historic city of Avignon. Tavel is only permitted to produce rosé wines, making it heaven on earth for pink wine lovers!
Popular with such diverse figures as the medieval Popes of Avignon, 19th century novelist Honoré de Balzac, and Ernest Hemingway, Tavel is made with Grenache and Cinsault along with some Syrah and Mourvedre. Unlike the rosés of nearby Provence, Tavel is known for its riper, richer pink wines which have a fuller body and significant structure which makes them great candidates for ageing.
Typical flavours and aromas for Tavel include luscious summer berries, peaches, apricots and almonds along with hints of spice and dried herbs. The hearty character of this rosé also means you have more options when it comes to picking what to eat with this wine. Whether you choose to go for grilled salmon, spicy pork or simply a hearty pasta dish with a rich tomato sauce, this wine will manage it all effortlessly. Feel free to experiment and find your own perfect pairing for this unique French rosé wine!
Has this whetted your appetite to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club. Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!