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Wines: The rosé imposes itself as a chic drink

Wines of Provence: the rosé rush

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Wines: The rosé imposes itself as a chic drink
Symbol of "chic relaxation", the rosé drains the investments of the biggest fortunes. The wines of Provence show a progression of 50% in seven years, with a turnover of 580 million euros in 2013.

One winter morning, in the offices of the Château d'Esclans, in La Motte (Var). Employees register orders when the phone rings. It is a shipowner specializing in luxury yachts, who intends to check the dimensions of the bottles of "Garrus", the cuvée Prestige Prestige of the castle. One of its customers wishes to be able easily to store many bottles of this type in its refrigerator, built on measure like the rest of the ship ... The anecdote illustrates the path accomplished by the rosé of Provence, passed in a few decades from campsites to luxury yachts.

In recent years, this wine has been established in places where it has never been introduced: great restaurants, nightclubs, ski slopes ... This wine appeals to an increasingly young and feminine public. The trendy night owls, who consider it more modern than champagne, love it. And it's not a hexagonal fashion. The rosé also explodes in the United States where it has become a symbol of "chic relaxation". With a turnover of 580 million euros in 2013 (of which nearly 90% for rosé), the wines of Provence show an increase of 50% in seven years!

Wines of Provence: the rosé rush
"Thirty years ago, when I worked at the Negresco in Nice and then at the Byblos in Saint-Tropez, this drink was more or less synonymous with bibine. the idea of ​​ordering it. Now it's become chic to drink, "says Henri Billeton, owner of the restaurant Cappello in Draguignan. And this former sommelier is astonished: "I could not imagine that the phenomenon would reach the biggest tables!"

Today, one bottle of wine bought in commerce in France contains rosé! In 1990, however, all of rivals were crushed by red, with 78% of sales, compared with 12% for white and 10% for rosé. "The lifestyle of consumers has evolved, their relationship with wine also: the French are more and more pleased with simple wines, without ceremonial," comments François Millo, director general of the Interprofessional Council of the wines of Provence (CIVP). In front of the multitude of appellations of origin, ranges and prices of red wines, rosé would stand out with its simplicity. According to a study carried out in 2010 by FranceAgriMer, 70% of French people consider that the choice of a red wine is a complicated operation, unlike that of a rosé.

The global market
"The quality of the wines of Provence has also undeniably progressed in the space of twenty years. It was at the end of the 1980s that Provence invented this new rosé, brighter, more aromatic and less sweet to at the same time, "welcomes François Millo. "There are still mediocre rosés, but it is true that quality has progressed globally," attests a renowned oenologist. Technological and technological advances favor this small revolution: the better control of cold, which allows a low temperature fermentation, the introduction of pneumatic presses, through the harvest at night. Producers have also invested their efforts to improve the quality of vines (replacing old trees, reintroducing vines, better aeration of crops, etc.) and building new cellars. Some of them, such as Château Thuerry by Jean-Louis Croquet, the Domaine de La Croix by Vincent Bolloré, or Château La Coste by McKillen, are technological jewelery. "In Provence, rosé is not a byproduct of red!" says Francois Millo.

The Provençal producers have also built real strategies to take to the assault of the world market. Aurélie Bertin, owner of Château Sainte-Roseline, located between Draguignan and Fréjus, has moved to New York for a year with her husband and children. Its objective is to anchor its bottles on the New World market. As for the Franco-American Sacha Lichine, owner of the Château d'Esclans, in La Motte (Var), he divides his time between Boston and Provence. And the domains rival inventiveness to pamper the American consumer.

An overall paying strategy. While France supplies more than a quarter of world rosé production, exports from the one of Provence have almost doubled in ten years. The consumption of rosé wine in the United States (second largest consumer country in the world) jumped 30% during the same period. And countries like Great Britain, Russia, northern Europe are won by the pink wave.

Quite logically, the price curve of rosé aligned itself with that of its new love rating. The bulk price has more than doubled in just over twenty years! Today, the hectolitre of cote-de-provence rosé reaches 220 euros (bulk price before bottling), while it limits to 148 euros for a generic Bordeaux (in August 2014, according to INSEE) . The average price of a bottle of rosé is 4 euros in supermarkets and about 9 euros for wines purchased in the cellar. And the price of some Prestige cuvées of large estates approaches the 30 euros per bottle. An exception: the "Garrus" cuvée by Sacha Lichine, which is sold 90 euros in the shop, knowing that 90% go to export. The rosé "Jolie-Pitt & Perrin" is, for its part, sold 15 euros a bottle to Domaine Miraval.

Some people are beginning to worry about what they call the "rose bubble": "Such prices are excessive, there is a risk of overheating, it is completely utopian to believe that a market can absorb more than 65% of high-end ", criticizes the oenologist, Olivier Nasles. The argument does not unduly worry Michel Couderc, an economist at CIVP. "Faced with the increase in the price of rosé in bulk, some wholesalers dereferenced the products in 2006-2007. They returned the following year, under the pressure of the consumers ..."

The other "bubble" is that of the price of wineries producing rosé. "It has been multiplied by ten in ten years," says Matthieu de Wulf, owner of the Jas d'Esclans and president of the federation of independent vine growers of the Var. "These prices are disconnected from the economic profitability of the estates." "Olivier Nasles said that the vineyard estate is less and less linked to the value of the estate, and that properties that generate 500,000 euros in sales can sell for 20 million euros!" The price of the hectare of vine in Provence, for its part, more than tripled, going from 20,000 to 70,000 euros in a few years.

What alarm some local owners, worried about not being able to pay the inheritance tax when transferring their property to their children. Already, a large number of estates in Provence have passed into the hands of new wealthy newcomers: stars, big bosses, British billionaires, Russian oligarchs, wealthy entrepreneurs ... Not to mention the great names of Champagne and Bordeaux who begin to bet on rosé, like the house Roederer. And optimistic forecasts fuel speculation. The age pyramid of consumers seems to be favorable. According to Olivier Nasles: "The red wine is that of the more than 50 years, the rosé the one of the youngest ones Ineluctably, time plays in favor of the rosé. It forecasts a pace of sales growth of 4 to 5% per year and forecasts that in ten years, rosé will represent 40% of the wines consumed in France.

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