The Collection

The art of darkness: premium rosé’s new packaging

An increasing number of premium rosé producers are putting their wines in dark glass bottles, despite some drinkers' misgivings. Elizabeth Gabay MW investigates the advantages

Words by Elizabeth Gabay MW

Dark rosé

Since the wine-dark sea of Homer, the colour and beauty of wine has attracted the attention of poets. The platitudes seem to come thick and fast for rosé in particular, a wine that glows like blood, amber, fire, the setting sun, a partridge’s eye, rubies, roses and even hyacinths.

Recognising the appreciation for the beauty of these wines has inevitably become a big selling feature – with regions where rosé dominates favouring the use of clear glass bottles, and with bottles taking on increasingly fantastic forms and shapes. La Visione (renamed San Greg from the 2023 vintage) of Feudi San Gregorio uses frosted fluted bottles, while Clos du Temple comes with a pyramid-shaped punt and the gold depiction of the hills of Cabrieres around the bottle’s collar. But overall, most rely on the crystalline clearness of flint glass so drinkers can best admire the colours of the wine.

However, there does seem to be the beginnings of a shift towards the use of dark glass to package more premium examples of rosé wine. Darker glass – whether feuille morte or darker still – can incorporate recycled glass (recycled clear glass has a grey tint and is not used for premium rosé), and also has the advantage of protecting the wine from lightstrike, a problem rosé is particularly susceptible to and which can lead to a savoury, herbal character in the wine – at worst a slightly cabbagey note.

Although the problem is more commonly associated with Champagne, in our tastings for the Rosé Wine Report 2023, around 30% of wines tasted suffered from lightstrike. As such, I would say that one of the growing indicators for a premium rosé is that it’s bottled in dark glass. Darker vessels represented around 10% of the wines submitted to be tasted for the Report but these bottles made up a significant 30% of the top-scoring wines.

Galoupet
Château Galoupet's amber bottle for its rosé is made up of 70% recycled glass

Clemence Fabre of Famille Fabre says they chose to bottle their Les Amouries in dark glass because of the wine’s ageing potential and the need to protect the wine from lightstrike. While the dark bottle has contributed to the wine’s image and has been ‘welcomed by professionals,’  Fabre says it has been difficult sell to French consumers. Philippe Brel of Estandon agrees. They had originally bottled Legende and Ceux 1906 in dark glass but were unable to successfully sell a rosé without displaying its colour.

‘There must be a point of confidence: if you sell your rosé based on oenology, you know what’s in the bottle,’ says Nadine Fau, the director of Château Galoupet. ‘We don’t sell by the colour, we sell by the taste.’ Fau said the initial resistance led to discussion and proved to be an icebreaker, with customers curious to understand the rationale for the darker glass.

One of the growing indicators for a premium rosé is that it’s bottled in dark glass

For Stellios Boutaris of Ktima Kir Yianni in the northern Greek region of Naoussa, Agathoto’s dark bottle was a clear statement: ‘Not as an act of rebellion but as a purposeful decision that gives voice to diversification and distinctiveness.’ The uniqueness of the packaging has allowed them to focus on what makes this rosé different. Its gastronomic potential, offered as an alternative to red wine, means they are aiming at more discerning consumers who appreciate the wine’s ageing potential.

With ageing potential a significant indicator of fine wine, putting a rosé into dark glass to avoid damaging lightstrike is a vote of confidence in its quality. Coupled with the sustainable advantages of dark glass, it seems safe to say that there will be a growing number of premium rosé moving to the dark side.

Unsure of the contents? Pink wax capsules on many of these dark glass bottles act as rosy indicators when browsing the aisles.

10 top rosés in darker glass

Producer Name Vintage Region Subregion
Johannes Zillinger, Numen 2021
Lower Austria , Weinviertel
Johannes Zillinger Numen 2021 Lower Austria Weinviertel
Dominio del Águila, Peñas Aladas Clarete 2020
Castilla y Leon , Ribera del Duero DOC
Dominio del Águila Peñas Aladas Clarete 2020 Castilla y Leon Ribera del Duero DOC
Clos Cibonne, Cuvée Prestige Caroline 2021
Provence-Côte d'Azur , Côtes de Provence AOP
Clos Cibonne Cuvée Prestige Caroline 2021 Provence-Côte d'Azur Côtes de Provence AOP
Château Pesquié, Quintessence 2021
Rhône , Southern Rhône
Château Pesquié Quintessence 2021 Rhône Southern Rhône
Château Saint-Esprit - Famille Croce-Spinelli, Quintessence 2022
Provence-Côte d'Azur , Côtes de Provence AOP
Château Saint-Esprit - Famille Croce-Spinelli Quintessence 2022 Provence-Côte d'Azur Côtes de Provence AOP
Weingut Georg Weinwurm, Hommage – Roter Muskateller 2022
Lower Austria , Weinviertel
Weingut Georg Weinwurm Hommage – Roter Muskateller 2022 Lower Austria Weinviertel
Filarole, Onda d’urto Rosato 2022
Emilia - Romagna , Piacenza
Filarole Onda d’urto Rosato 2022 Emilia - Romagna Piacenza
Château de Manissy, Tête de Cuvée 2021
Rhône , Southern Rhône
Château de Manissy Tête de Cuvée 2021 Rhône Southern Rhône
Ktima Kir Yianni, Agathoto 2021
Macedonia , Naoussa OPAP
Ktima Kir Yianni Agathoto 2021 Macedonia Naoussa OPAP
Famille Fabre, Château Fabre Gasparets, Les Amouries 2019
Languedoc-Roussillon , Corbières AOP
Famille Fabre, Château Fabre Gasparets Les Amouries 2019 Languedoc-Roussillon Corbières AOP