By Rick Riozza

How wonderful is it to see wine lovers spend an appreciable amount of time perusing the wine aisles?  As your friendly neighborhood wine steward working the wine department at the Palm Springs Ralphs market, I’m seeing more and more customers deliberating on what selection of wines they’re going to grab.  And I need to quickly gauge whether the person desires to be left alone in their thoughts, or, would like a little help without appearing to need it (it’s a wine-pride thing sometimes—no big deal).

And so, depending on the feel of things, often, my go-to line as I softly pass by is to smile and comment, “Is there any wine whispering out to you? . . . Their response of course allows them to dictate my role to keep things light, instructive, gregarious, or, silent.

Speaking of whispering, what wine lover has not heard of—if not actually tasted, one of the most recognized rosés on the market.  Whispering Angel, made by Provençal winery Château d’Esclans, is considered a premium rosé that boasts a premium price, listed at around $25 a bottle.  And when it comes to the opinion of rosés, most enthusiasts either love it/like it—or, find the luxury brand to be overrated or a bit pompous because it’s cool to be seen with that bottle in hand.

But like it or not, the pretty-in-pink movement that has taken our wine community by storm in the last decade, can well be credited to the success of the Whispering Angel brand.  “Always delicious,” says James Suckling, American wine critic and former senior editor and European bureau chief of Wine Spectator. Ray Isle of Food and Wine made your favorite eye-rolling comment, “The cool thing you have to drink.” And the tough Jancis Robinson, renowned British wine critic, called it “more palate-grabbing by far from the Provençal Pink norm.”

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By the way, for those who like the details and a scoop on the recipe, Whispering Angel is a dry rosé blend of Grenache, Rolle, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mouvedre.

And it continues to be the hit of our stores rosé section which offers close to one hundred different brands. (I remember in 2007, when Whispering Angel came to the U.S. market, there were probably less than ten rosés on the supermarket’s shelves.)  Further, not to sound sexist, but do the women clamor for this stuff or what!  And the girls aren’t shy to pay the big bucks for the wine—granted we have a lot of tourists who will definitely treat themselves to rosé all day!

Then again, it’s not only for all day, it’s for all year too.  Especially out here in the desert, any quality chilled down rosé is perfect for our perfect warm weather. 

Every year this column does a couple/three write-ups and reviews on the trending rosé in town.  And every year the stats increase:  Market Watch magazine currently writes, “the rosé category’s overall U.S. volumes reached 17.5 million cases from the year prior. Rosés from Provence surpassed 2 million cases to the U.S. on a 16.5% gain over 2017.

“Whispering Angel has been a major growth vehicle for the rosé category, depleting 415,000 cases in 2018!—up 33% from the year prior!”

As many of you rosé fans know, Château d’Esclans has more than Whispering Angel in their stable of pink.  There’s a “reserve” Whispering Angel known as Rock Angel at around $35; a prestige cuvée, Les Clans at $60; and, there’s the $100 Garrus rosé, that James Suckling has called, “the greatest rosé ever made”.

Last year, Château d’Esclans launched a new “sister” product, The Palm by Whispering Angel, which retails around $17.  The company states, “The Palm was created specifically to appeal to millennials and Gen Z consumers who might be intimidated by the seriousness and price point of the flagship rosé.  We thought, ‘What if we come up with something more approachable!’  The label is colorful with a cool retro pattern, and we decided on a nice Stelvin screw cap.”

The Palm is an authentic Provence rosé whose grapes are purchased in the western part of an Aix-en-Provence where the grapes are less expensive.  It’s the company’s belief that the younger consumers who gravitate toward The Palm will eventually move up to the Whispering Angel as they become more seasoned wine drinkers.  You’re watching the rosé wine game play out right before your eyes.

Target was the first chain store to stock the product and now it’s sold all around town.  At Ralphs, it sells for around $13.  And I’m not really surprised that so many customers (again, mostly women) already know that The Palm is a Whispering Angel product, as they pull it from the shelves.

The 2018 Whispering Angel comes across very fresh and on the mineral side of fruity along with citrus notes, some tangerine, jasmine, cherry and a hint of watermelon.  And there’s a kick of mouthwatering salinity on the finish. It’s certainly deliciously dry to the end.

The Palm 2018 Rosé carries aromas of strawberries and red berries with hints of lime and melon that yield into the palate. It’s definitely less intense than the Whispering Angel; well-balanced acidity and minerality; a nice finish of peach and citrus.  Cheers!