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Rose on the rise: the pink wine makes a comeback
It was just after Christmas when I realised the rose revival had well and truly arrived. Strolling through my local wine barn, I turned into the pink wine aisle and was met by a scene of pillage and plunder. The normally neatly stacked shelves were half empty; cardboard wine boxes had been broken into, their contents raided. It was if a mob of thirsty shoppers in a rose rage had descended on the store, buying bottles faster than staff could restock.
“I haven’t seen this much excitement over a wine style since Marlborough sauvignon blanc first started to take off in the market,” says Peter Nixon of Dan Murphy’s wine panel. “We have seen sales growth of between 200 and 300 per cent in the over-$10 rose category over the last twelve months. It is that dramatic.”
It’s the same for independent outlets: everywhere I go retailers and sommeliers tell me they’ve never sold as much rose as they have this summer.
Interestingly, while well-established, fuller-flavoured Australian pink wines such as Turkey Flat and Charlie Melton’s Rose of Virginia are benefiting from this trend, the kind of rose proving to be most popular is the pale, dry style, typified by the wines of Provence, and often made in Australia most successfully from pinot noir.
What’s more, people are spending good money for good pink wine: one of the biggest-selling local examples is the $20 De Bortoli La Boheme Pinot Noir Rose; one of the most sought-after French brands is the $28 Miraval Cotes de Provence (the wine owned by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt); and Peter Nixon tells me Dan’s even struggle to keep up with demand for the $50 Domaine du Gros’Nore from Bandol in Provence: “People want the best rose and are prepared to pay for it,” he says. This is clearly not a price-driven, cheap-plonk trend.
“It’s awesome that people are finally getting on to it,” says De Bortoli chief winemaker, Steve Webber, who first started producing pale, dry pinot rose a decade ago. “We made 50 per cent more La Boheme last year than the previous, and I’ve made a shed load more again this year to keep up.”
Nixon says one of the reasons for the local surge in rose sales is the huge popularity of the style in countries such as France and Britain.
“What happens in Europe can have an effect on our market,” he says. “As more and more Australians go on holidays and enjoy new wine styles there, that can then start to be replicated here and it eventually reaches critical mass.”
Nixon says the popularity of rose is also part of a broader trend of people diversifying their drinking options: where once they might have stuck solely to Marlborough sauvignon, now they’re also regularly buying prosecco (“We’re struggling to keep the shelves stocked with this, too,” he says), pink wines and lighter bodied reds.
“I’d be a bit concerned if I was a Marlborough sav blanc maker,” he says. “Or, rather, I’d be looking at how I can make some rose — and fast.”