Bordeaux turns pink

Friday, 5. May 2017 - 11:30

Bordeaux by Christophe Bouthe

Bordeaux is going pink. A very pale shade of pink, according to Allan Sichel, president of the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB).

“Rosé is a very dynamic segment and what’s particularly interesting is that it gives a different perspective of Bordeaux,” he says. “It refreshes the image and brings new consumers to Bordeaux and is an aspect we want to push forward.”

Sales of rosé have exploded worldwide, as consumers embrace pink. Retailers in the UK recorded skyrocketing sales in 2016, with Waitrose seeing an increase of 104% over 2015, and Marks & Spencer seeing 100%, according to The Guardian. In the US, Fortune magazine says that the demand for rosé jumped by 4,852% between 2001 and 2015, to a total of 7.8m L in 2015.

There are several reasons for the trend, from an increase in quality to the willingness of men to drink the style. The phenomenon is partly driven by social media, and also by a cocktail culture that has seen the emergence of new drinks such as the ‘frosé’, made from frozen rosé, lemon juice and sugar.

But in attracting consumers to the category, one feature stands out as particularly important, says Sichel: the colour. It needs to be pale. “The pale colour is quite universal, all consumer research agrees,” he says. “What we used to have was a very broad range. Anything that wasn’t dark red or white was called rosé.”

Bordeaux has traditionally produced a rosé style known as Clairet, which is full-bodied and deeply coloured. But when the CIVB sat down to do their strategic planning in 2010, they looked at what was working on international markets and realised that Clairet was a niche product, where pale pink rosé has almost universal appeal.

“We also know the consumer wants rosé to be very light and fruity in aroma,” adds Sichel. “So those are two things we have defined.”

Today, while some Bordeaux producers are still making their traditional Clairet, more have moved towards the new pale rosé colour. Sichel holds up a bottle, and says that in certain lights, Bordeaux rosés have a blue tinge.  “It comes from the acidity of our grapes and it’s a big difference from other rosés. We don’t want to be copying from other areas.”

Pale rosé isn’t the only new wine style to emerge from Bordeaux – another category that’s growing at top speed is sparkling wine. “The techniques and knowledge are concentrated,” says Sichel, explaining that only a handful of wineries are capable of making sparkling wine, but that their production is expanding. “It’s an eight-fold increase.”

And, of course, the new sparkling wines include Cremant Rosé.
Felicity Carter