Provence is arguably the most underrated wine region in France and is best known for its production of rose wines from a countryside characterised by fields of lavender, sunflowers and olive trees.
Bordered by the Rhone river to the west and the Cote d’Azur on the east, the Provence wine region has the oldest wine making history in France. This typically Mediterranean region is blessed by a sun kissed climate with the significant differences in day and night temperatures that encourage wine growing – while the cool Mistral winds can reduce the risk of fungal diseases.
So-called herbs de Provence, which include rosemary, juniper, thyme and lavender, are grown throughout the region and said to influence the quality of the wines produced here. Rose dominates production in the Provence wine region, with spicy, full-bodied red styles and a few white wines making up the remainder. Traditional grape varieties such as Carignan, Barbaroux and Calitor have been gradually replaced by more commercial European varieties including Grenache, Syrah and even Cabernet Sauvignon.
The largest non-continuous appellation in the Provence wine region is the Cotes de Provence, which is concentrated in the east but also features vineyards as far west as the regional capital Marseille. Around 85% of the wines produced here are roses, but an increasing number of reds are also raising their heads. Former Hollywood power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a Cotes de Provence rose called Miraval, made from a blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Vermentino.
Of the remaining eight AOC appellations, designated under strict French guidelines, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is the second largest. Settled in the far eastern corner of the Provence wine region, the area creates largely rose wines from complex blends. Within Coteaux d’Aix en Provence is the smaller Les Baux-de-Provence, surrounded by an incredibly hot valley coined Val d’Enfer (Valley of Hell), was the first AOC to require that all vineyards should be farmed biodynamically.
Other renowned appellations include Cassis, which is the only AOC in the region that concentrates on elegant white wines, and Bandol where roses and reds are dominated by the local Mourvedre grape. The Coteaux Varois de Provence (‘The Heart of Provence’) sees vineyards grown at slightly higher altitudes to produce wines with more complexity.
At only 100 acres, Palette is the smallest AOC in the Provence wine region. The wines here are hand harvested and both white and rose wines are aged for at least eight months before release. Bellet, which is the only Provence that is permitted to use Chardonnay, boasts rose wines with the distinct aroma of rose petals. And, Pierrevert, the newest and most northernly AOC in Provence, carries a definite Rhone influence in its wines – of which half must be made using the ‘saignee’ method.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive tours of the Provence wine region that can include elaborate tastings, luxury stays, fine dining experiences and unique activities.
Among these is the Extraordinary Provence Experience, a week-long immersion that explores the wine, culture and gastronomy of the in the Provence wine region with visits to the most respected vineyards and accommodation at the luxury Hotel Le Pigonnet. All of our private tours can be tailor-made to meet your specific requirements, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and revel in the country’s wines.
If you're interested in one of our Provence Wine Tours, please visit this link.
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