Travel IndustryBooksSmarter ShoppingSports

The wine that started the rosé boom in the U.S. is bringing out another bottle

April 16, 2022, 1:00 PM UTC

This spring, Château d’Esclans, the winery behind the megapopular rosé wine Whispering Angel, will be introducing a new bottle to its collection.

The Beach by Whispering Angel is as fresh as can be—in the wine’s structure as well as its production. The wine went into the tank for aging in December 2021, and the winery started bottling in March 2022.

“This is what we believe Provence rosé should taste like,” says Château d’Esclans vice president Paul Chevalier. “I think it’s the best we’ve done from this appellation. It’s not Whispering Angel; we’re not pretending to be Whispering Angel. It is a different style, and I think it represents the appellation of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, which is a little bit more on the fruity side.”

Rosé wine sales continue to boom stateside. Still and sparkling rosé accounted for 9.3% combined of the overall wine category on Drizly, an online ordering and delivery alcohol service in 2021, with still wine sales comprising the majority of rosé share. The average unit price for still rosé grew from $16.10 to $17.10 per bottle from 2020 to 2021. And 70% of the top-selling rosé brands on Drizly are French, a trend that has held steady since 2019, with Château d’Esclans holding the top spot of brands overall, with Whispering Angel as the top selling bottle.

“What happened in the last 15 years with Whispering Angel leading the pack in the rosé category—not just in America, but around the world—developed and grew, and rose became extremely trendy,” Chevalier says. “But this is really about the legitimacy of how we continue that story, and I truly believe that it will be difficult to produce this outside of the area that we’re in,” the vineyards of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. He adds that this is really about the right terroir, the right climate, and the right grapes (particularly grenache).

And, at least prior to the pandemic, approximately one in five bottles of rosé sold stateside came from Château d’Esclans. The Provençal winery has a small but broad portfolio, including the medium range and food-friendly Rock Angel (approximately $35), the Les Clans ($65), which is reminiscent of a white Burgundy, and the Garrus, a premium rosé with a suggested retail price at $100 per bottle. Whispering Angel, which has become synonymous with summer rooftop bars and nightclubs, is actually the most budget-friendly—if you can find a bottle on the shelf at its suggested retail price around $20. But because of its popularity, the label often sees a restaurant markup of $17 to $18 minimum per glass, or upwards of $100 per bottle.

Just in time for summer, Château d’Esclans is introducing a new rosé wine: The Beach by Whispering Angel.
Courtesy of Château d’Esclans

While rosé has become extremely popular in the U.S.—and the U.S. is Whispering Angel’s top-selling and most in-demand market—there is still a learning curve when it comes to rosé. Winemakers and distributors are keen to dispel myths about rosé being too pink or too sweet. The Beach is a prime example of a good starter rosé right in the middle of the spectrum—it has a rose-petal hue and is quite dry, with no sugar at all.

“It’s about that type of shade of pale pink, which is really the signature of Provence,” Chevalier explains. “It’s this idea of using the grapes that are indigenous in Provence.”

The Beach is actually an evolution of one of Château d’Esclans more recent releases, The Palm, which was touted as a “little sister” to Whispering Angel with releases in 2019 and 2020. The Palm was so popular upon its release that it skyrocketed to becoming one of the top selling rosés in the U.S.; it ranked fourth last year on Drizly’s list of best-selling still and sparkling rosé wines.

But the blend is a bit different for The Beach, this time made with grenache, cinsault, and syrah grapes. When poured into the glass, it’s immediately apparent that this is a very aromatic wine, filled with notes of berry with just a hint of florals. And on the first taste, it pops with a rich viscosity and a little bit of acidity. It’s very easy to sip—almost too easy.

And given the moniker, the wine’s branding comes with a dedicated commitment to beach and coastline preservation. With that in mind, the wine is bottled into a lighter glass vessel, which takes less energy to produce and should decrease the shipping carbon footprint. And the bottle is capped off not with cork but a Stelvin Lux screw cap; the aluminum closure not only makes it much simpler to open at the beach or another outdoor space when on the go but is also easily recyclable. Additionally, all point-of-sale goods and marketing materials—from reusable water bottles to beach umbrellas and towels—are made from 100% recycled materials.

The Beach by Whispering Angel will be available for purchase nationwide starting on May 1 with a suggested retail price of $18 per bottle.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.