Rosé is a category of wine that stands alongside red and white, and Provence is proud to be the world’s only region that specializes in dry rosé.

Like red wines, rosés are made from red grapes. But whereas red wines are made by allowing the juice and skins to commingle during fermentation, rosé producers allow only a limited period of skin contact before separating the pink-tinted juice from the grape skins and then beginning fermentation. The pigment and tannins in the skins give the dry rosé its colour, aroma, and character. Rosé is a blended wine, and Provençal winemakers make rosé by producing single-variety rosés in individual vats, and then carefully assembling the final wine from these batches.

Extraction of colour and aroma

In many rosé producing regions a technique known as ‘saignée’ is used to produce rosé; a few hours after fermentation has begun, 5 to 15% of the juice in the vat is removed as rosé, while the remainder is used to make red wine. Provence distinguishes itself as a producer of quality rosé by avoiding this technique, and the region’s winemakers instead use two key methods to extract colours and aromas while making their rosés:
1. Maceration with Skins

Once the grapes have been harvested and destemmed, they are then crushed, freeing up the pulp, skin, seeds and juices, which are collectively known as the ‘must’. The must is then left to macerate in vats, with the skins, for periods ranging from 2 to 20 hours at temperatures between 10 and 20°C. This method requires perfect timing, as contact between the skins and juice must be long enough for the pigments to turn the juice the right shade of pink, but must not be so long that the tannins also contained in the skins overwhelm the wine. When the desired colour saturation is achieved, the juice is removed from the skins and allowed to ferment at a low temperature of 18 to 20°C.

2. Direct Pressing

Following harvest, direct pressure is applied to full bunches of grapes, and the clear juice is then fermented immediately. In this method the juice and skins are in contact for only a brief period, which results in paler rosés.

Fermentation

Following either maceration or direct pressing, the juices are clarified via cold settling to remove the largest particles of skin, pulp and earth. Fermentation then takes place at low temperatures of 18 to 20°C in order to preserve the maximum amount of aromas, and malolactic fermentation is not systematic for rosé wines.

Conservation & Maturing

The majority of rosés are kept in stainless steel vats or cements vats with lining, where they are matured on lees. Some rosés may also be matured in barrels, and rare examples with the ability to age for 3 to 5 years are also produced, developing complex candied fruit, spice and floral aromas.
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