Provence Wines - A Brief History -

The Romans called the area nostra provincia ("our province"), giving the region its name. They greatly encouraged the wine production and our atitudes toward wine. –                  see Amuse Bourches Roman section. Wine has been made in Porvence for over 2,600 years, and ever since the ancient Greeks founded the city of Marseille in 600 BC it has been a main source of income. Throughout history diverse groups have introduced a large variety of grapes, so here you have region where .Greek ,Roman, Spanish, Italian grapes have all been blended into a spectrum of interesting wines waiting to be discovered in landscapes of scenic beauty and historical significance.                                                 Today the region is known for its rosé wine, and you can’t beat a carafe of rosé accompanying a seaside meal or village lunch. . However, many wine critics currently believe that region's best wines are the spicy, fruity, full-flavoured red wines

 

Red Provence Grape Varieties

Grenache.
Widely used in the blends of Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence appellation, for roses it imparts a light, orangey tint. This variety gives young wine elegant aromas red berries; as it ages, develops spicier notes with increased body and richness. The best examples come from hillside vineyards. 
Cinsault.
This Provence grape suits the Provence growing conditions, plus the tough skins are rarely damaged by machine harvesting. it was used for many years as a table grape and now is widely blended in the region's rosé production. It gives the wine a fresh, fruity touch but its basic harshness should be mitigated by the other grapes in the blend. ..
Syrah.
Termed a “cepage ameliorateur”- grape blend improver- These small, black grapes with bluish highlights produce full-bodied rosés and reds that are particularly suitable for aging - often in oak. These aged wines develop characteristic notes of vanilla red berries and  peppery flavour.
Mourvedre.
The grape associated with the best wines of Bandol. This is a slow-maturing variety that prefers hot, limestone soil and thrives near the sea. The small grapes produce smooth, structured wines with assertive tannins and aromas of violets and blackberries. With age, the wine reveals spicier notes of pepper and cinnamon, it adds class to blends of Cinsault and Carigan.
Tibouren.
This authentic Provence variety is delicate, elegant, and adds aromatic herbal character to blends. For rosé it adds a particularly rich bouquet. It blends well with other Provence varieties in the assemblage process.
Carignan.
Suited to stony, hillside soil, slopes where yields are low, Carignan produces deeply colored and highly structured wines that serve as an excellent base for assemblage, frequently blended with Grenache and Cinsaut to balance this grapes heavy, tannic qualities.
Cabernet – Becoming more common in Provence, this varietal adds a tannic structure to the wine. Its characteristic nose of green pepper and black currant set it apart from other varieties and adds new interest to Provence blends. 

 White Provence Grape Varieties


 Ugni Blanc  This grape is Tuscan, round and juicy berry, provides a light and fruity slighly acidic wine of great finesse . It provides the basis for most Provence white wines.

Clairette This traditional variety of Provence thrives in the hot climate producing high alcohol content table wines. In Cassis and other quality blends it adds rich flavoured and aromatic bouquet with notes of white fruit.

Semillon -It is a vigorous variety, productive, but fearing rot. Used in small proportions, it gives the wine of the aromatic p ower, fat, roundness and a nice style with hints of white flowers and honey a complent in blends based on the Ugni Blanc grape.

The Rolle (Vermentino or, very close range) Grape variety of Italian origin, grown mostly in Bellet appellation. . It produces wines with flavors of citrus pear and hints of rosemary and thyme.

Sauvignon Blanc – a recent addition to Provence blends used to lighten and smooth the edges for more traditional grapes. Also adds a familiar international name the makes sense from a marketing point of view.
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Provence Rosé

Along the sea fronts or in village squares, under the sunny skies of Provence, rosé is the carefree wine that you are preconditioned to order and enjoy. In this environment everyone seems to approve of whatever rosé is poured into his or her glass. . However with the current emphasis on quality rose are being drunk more at dinner parties back home and if this wine has been bought directly at a domaine or from a cooperative all the better as you have a story to tell.

 Rosé wine colours - Give Clues to Grapes Used and Wine Making Process

As you are probably aware only the skins of grapes contain colour . The colour of the wine is determined by the amount of time the skins are left in contact with the juice –pulp- duiring winemaking. The grapes used also determine colour as each type has a different level of skin pigment ( anthocyanes ). The wine making process also determines the colour, as wine made from direct pressure pressing are usually paler – light pink –salmon colour than roses made from a maceration process. Because of the large number of factors for production- ie grape blends, terroir and seasonal influences,and wine making techniques, Rose wines have a wide spectrum tastes and acidic ranges. Generally good roses have a fruity and /or flora nose with hints of citrus fruits- pineapple, grapefruit, lemon –also almonds, and white fruits like peaches, lychees, or mangos. Darker shades roses will also express red fruits – strawberry, cherry, raspberry , blueberry notes , plus spices- cinnamon and pepper along with herbal, aromatic plants –sage, lavender etc. So pay attention and be observant on your vineyard visits, ask questions, as this seemingly simple wine offers you complex and varied discovery pleasures- plus you can tell a much better story back home.
  Provence Rosé Research Centre has put together a liquid colour scale to represent the main colours of Provence rosés.                                                                                                  Redcurrent, Rosewood, Raseberry, Flesh, Pink Marble, Salmon, Onion Skin, Brick, and Coral.

 There are 10 Official Appellations in Provence - 

Bandol - Bellet - Cassis - Coteaux-d'Aix-en-Provence - Co
teaux de Pierrevert - Cotes-de-Provence - Côtes de Provence-Sainte Victoire - Coteaux Varois - Les Beaux de Provence – Palette – from our maps in Wine Route Section  you can see where the concentration of vineyards are in each appellation.

Bandol The wines of Bandol are especially recognized for quality with internationally respected reds leading the way. The Mouvedre grape provides the tannin and body and is most often blended with Grenache to produce powerful, well structured red wines best drunk after 4 or 5 years. They taste of plums and smell of cinnamon, vanilla, and violets. Suggested food pairings include Steak, Leg of Lamb, Quail, Rabbit, and Risotto with Mushrooms. These Red Bandol wines are fashionable in France, on the wine lists of most Michelin restaurants. Bandol reds must be made from a minimum of 50% Mourvedre and aged in wooden barrels for 18 months prior to bottling. This ageing is necessary to soften the rough tannins of the young wines.
Rosés accounts for an ever increasing percentage of output, made from Cinsault, Grenache and Mouvedre whilst a small quantity of white wine is produced from Clairette, Bourboulenc and Ugni Blanc.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           A good place to start your education of Bandol wine is the Maison des Vins de Bandol 238 road to Ferrage 83330 Le Castellet Tel: +33 (0) 4 94 90 29 59


 

Bandol and Cassis sea side vineyards.  ~Each town has beaches, and  fishing harbours lined with restaurants..  They are great places to visit.   Tasting room visits can be quick breaks form beach time but beware of dress codes as Mr. Beefy here will probably find out unless his Speedo is packed with Euros.

Bandol - is recognized for internationally respected reds wines. The Mouvedre grape provides the tannin and body and is most often blended with Grenache to produce powerful, well structured red wines best drunk after 4 or 5 years. They taste of plums and smell of cinnamon, vanilla, and violets. Suggested food pairings include Steak, Leg of Lamb, Quail, Rabbit, and Risotto with Mushrooms. These Red Bandol wines are fashionable in France, on the wine lists of most Michelin restaurants. Bandol reds must be made from a minimum of 50% Mourvedre and aged in wooden barrels for 18 months prior to bottling. This ageing is necessary to soften the rough tannins of the young wines.
Rosés accounts for an ever increasing percentage of output, made from Cinsault, Grenache and Mouvedre whilst a small quantity of white wine is produced from Clairette, Bourboulenc and Ugni Blanc. A good place to start your education of Bandol wine is the Maison des Vins de Bandol 238 road to Ferrage 83330 Le Castellet Tel: +33 (0) 4 94 90 29 59


Cassis– A small fishing village 20 kiometres east of Marseille. Although the AOC Cassis produces red, rosé, it is the white wines for which it is most known. These dry white wines are characterized their full bodies, low acidity and herbal aromas. They pair well with local seafood cuisine. With limitied production most of the wine drunk locally and relatively high prices reflecrt the short supply.These whites made from Ugni Blanc, Clairette and Marsanne, are  full bodied and dry.

Bellet -An extremely small area with in a 30 minute drive from Nice centre. Bellet has established a reputation for red, white and rosé wines. The reds are robust, sumptuous and well structured; rosés are supple, well structured, fruity and will age well whilst the whites are aromatic, elegant and well rounded.
The vineyards of Bellet is one of the oldest in France; originating with the arrival here of Phocean Greeks.
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Coteaux-d'Aix-en-Provence  - A total of 49 communes make up the appellation of Coteaux-d'Aix-en-Provence producing red, rosé and a limited amount of white wine.
Red wines are fruity and supple in their youth and peak after 2 or 3 years. The principle grape variety is Grenache but you are likely to find Cinsault, Counoise and Mourvedre in the blend. Most of the production concentrates on light and fruity rosé wines for early drinking and the white wines are made from Ugni Blanc blended with Clairette, Rolle and Bourboulenc.

Coteaux de Pierrevert This appellation includes 11 Villages in the département of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence : Corbières, Gréoux-les-Bains, Manosque, Montfuron, Pierrevert, Quinson, Sainte-Tulle, Saint-Laurent-du-Verdon, Saint-Martin-de-Brômes, Villeneuve and Volx, for a total of 4,000 acres. The production is 10% white, 30% rosés and 60% red wines. Varietals: (Whites), Ugni blanc, Grenache blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussane & Picpoul, (Reds), Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Oeillade & Terret Noir.

Cotes-de-Provence The AOC Cotes de Provence is the largest in Provence and concentrates on the production of rosés (80%), but good smooth easy drinking red wine production is expanding especially at cooperatives with some domaies aiming to produce higher quality oak aged reds suitable for further aging.
. At their best the rosés are excellent, full of fruit, soft and aromatic. The white wines are dry, floral and well structured. Most of the red wines are to be drunk young and are usually soft and fruity. In the context of Provence meals the wines taste especially wonderful.  In this regiont a must visit is the Maison desw Vins-Rn7 83460 Les Arcs sur Argens, tel-33 049 4995010 -

Côtes de Provence-Sainte Victoire
This Appellation was regulated in 2005. The vineyard lies in a beautiful scenic setting, between two imposing mountain ranges, the Mount Sainte Victoire and the Monts Aureliens, on gentle,sunny slopes of gravelly clay-limestone soil.
The villages covered of the Appellation are: Chateuneuf-le-rouge, Peynier, Pourcieux, Pourrières, Puyloubier, Rousset and Trets. Varietals : 50% grenache and syrah minimum and also cinsault. Cabernet is limited to 10%.

Coteaux Varois
The vineyard extends from Brignoles to the foothills of the Sainte-Baume range. The wines are grown in 28 communes, all proud to show case the new Coteaux Varois appellation was awarded March 1993..

Essentially organic, the style of viticulture practiced in the rapidly changing vineyards around Brignoles is increasingly successful. The distribution between reds and rose is reasonably well balanced, with 40% of the volume being red wine (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre), 55 % rosé (Grenache and Cinsault) and 5 % white (Rolle, Clairette and Grenache blanc). It’s a pleasant area for serendipity wine touring taking your chances by stopping at domains and cooperatives sign posted from the road.
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Les-Beaux-de-Provence
The AOC of Les Baux de Provence is limited to the production of red and rosés wines only and the strict AOC rules ensure quality output.
The blend of grape varieties used is made up of at least 60 % Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre for reds and at least 60 % Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault for rosés.
The limited vineyard area and production level is some indication of the quality, but the range of les Baux wines is still relatively wide, with the quality strongly-flavoured reds ideally being kept 5 or 6 years before drinking, and with rosés to be drunk .


Palette
Palette is a very small vineyard, on the outskirts of Aix, producing white, red and rosés wines from a variety of grapes. The reds have excellent ageing potential.
The Vins de Palette appellation lies between the communes of Tholonet and Meyreuil and includes the respected estates of Château Simo

 

 

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