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Five minutes with rosé expert, Elizabeth Gabay MW

Published:  11 October, 2022

As her latest book, Rosés of Southern France, hits the shelves, Elizabeth Gabay explains to Andrew Catchpole why we should all take the pink category more seriously.

It started in the ’80s when my parents bought a holiday home in Provence. When my children were born, I took some time out there. When I returned, everyone was talking about rosé, and I’m going, ‘what did I miss?’. But by default, since the ’80s, I’ve worked a lot with Wines of Provence. I initially hated it. People kept saying that you’ve got to have a swimming pool to have your glass of rosé next to. As an MW, that went against everything you are trained to think about. The initial book started being on Provence, but as 90% of Provence is rosé, it turned into a book on rosé, and I started to think, ‘well, does anyone else make rosé?’. I became intrigued.

I get a lot of trade people saying, ‘Oh, are you still doing rosé?’, so it still hasn’t been accepted. The price is often lower; it’s still not regarded as a proper wine by most people. But it’s a money-earner. All that makes me defiant, so I’m going to go for it.

With the book we are trying to distinguish between regions rather than lump all the [rosés] together. A highlight was a tasting of southern Rhône rosés, where we were able to identify by village and sub-appellation; it was like a eureka moment because we had come to understand the terroir, attitude, the historical traditions.

Rosé is at a stage of development I find exciting because there’s a world of creativity. There’s solera, amphora, oak, blending skin contact white grapes with the rosé… the world is their oyster.

I don’t understand why people under-price rosés – restaurants are nervous about putting on a rosé above £15, seeing double the margin with whites and reds. One way of getting exciting rosé to restaurants and critics is through the natural movement.