Forget the big brands, this is the pink to drink in 2023.
From €14.80, £13.68, $23.99
Stealth wealth, epitomised by plainly dressed billionaires such as Shiv Roy from Succession, shown below, has become the hottest new trend. Gone are the days of conspicuous consumption, so cast off that branded jacket and put down the jeroboam of Whispering Angel, because the rosé to be seen drinking this summer season is the one you've never heard of.
I've been tasting Ch Les Mesclances since their 2015 vintage. Their second-top pink cuvée, St Honorat Rosé, has been getting steadily better each year, and the 2022 vintage is the best yet. With a score of 17, it's among the top 12% of more than 700 Provence pinks in our database, ranked alongside all the top names.
The packaging is suitably understated – legible, muted, modest. In the glass, the colour is the sort of pale peach that you might wear as a billowing scarf on the yacht. It's peachy on the palate too, with fruit flavour that is way more defined than that of so much wishy-washy rosé – not just peach, but redcurrant and tart raspberry too. Provençal herb flavours add a bouquet garni of complexity on the finish.
Neither alcohol nor acid is too high, giving a fulsome but balanced palate that persists well, especially if you serve it at the right temperature: that means absolutely not straight off the ice; instead, somewhere around 10 °C is ideal.
Even better, the price tag for such excellence is quite a bit cheaper than the market-leading brands. So who are the purveyors of this perfect pink?
Ch Les Mesclances has 30 hectares (74 acres) of family-owned vineyards in the hills above Hyères east of Toulon. They make a range of whites and reds, and at least four rosés. The top range, called Faustine, is impressive but effortful, making the St Honorat wines more evenly balanced and drinkable, to my palate. Viticulture has been organic for 10 years (certified since 2020), and vinification is straightforward, without any oak.
St Honorat Rosé is made from a single plot planted to three varieties, the blend of which comprises 70% Grenache, 21% Cinsault and 9% Mourvèdre in the 2022 vintage. Ch Les Mesclances's US importer Rosenthal reports that 2022 'produced rosés of modest alcohol (between 12.5% and 13%), partly due to the season's intense drought blocking maturity for a spell during August – a widespread phenomenon across the south of France' – although the bottle I tasted had 13.5% written on the label, and was no worse for that.
In a category which has become so heavily dominated by marketing strategies (is any other wine such a fashion victim, apart from champagne?), it's refreshing to know that what you are paying for is going straight into the bottle, rather than onto billboards and influencer posts. When I asked the producer to provide more information on their background, they simply replied that Mesclances is one of the oldest estates in Provence.
Like Shiv Roy, they might pass unnoticed in a crowded room, but those that are well informed will recognise the inherent quality.
The 2022 is available through several online retailers throughout Europe, via Wine.com in the US and A&B Vintners in the UK.
*HBO are keen to let you know that Succession series 4 is streaming now on Sky Atlantic and NOW – but you probably already knew that.
There's plenty more to learn about rosé – members have access to over 80 articles, which you can find here.