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Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

A few words about the region

Provence is known for its rocky mountains, its lavender-flavoured fields, but above all its wine! It all began 2600 years ago, when the Phocaeans founded Marseille and introduced the vine there. Four centuries after the Phocaeans, with the installation of the Romans on Provençal soil, the cultivation of bunches became prolific and quickly spread throughout the country, making Provence the leading wine-growing region in France.

Its wine-growing region extends over nearly 200 km between the Mediterranean and the Alps, in the Var and Bouches-du-Rhône, as well as a single village in the Alpes-Maritimes. Marked by a varied topography of natural sites, rocky and volcanic mountain ranges and a coastline alternating between fine sandy beaches and steep paths along the azure blue of the Mediterranean, Provence's landscape is unique in the world. This landscape includes the restanques: very steep terraces on which plots of vines are planted, as well as the walls and groves of trees typical of the region. These elements structure the landscape and protect its biodiversity by providing shelter for wildlife of all kinds.

In Provence, wine is therefore not just a simple product; discovering a wine of Provence means understanding where it comes from, immersing yourself in the terroir that has given it its full character, as well as meeting the people who made it...

The main appellations of Provence

  • Coteaux d'Aix en Provence: The Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence appellation covers more than 4,100 hectares (more than 10,300 acres) and is located in 47 municipalities in the Bouches-du-Rhône and Var departments. This area mainly includes: the western part of limestone Provence and extends from the Durance River in the north of the Mediterranean in the south, then from the Rhône Valley in the west to the Montagne Sainte-Victoire in the east, surrounding the city of Aix-en-Provence which gave its name to the AOC appellation. The landscape is relatively unified with a series of eroded mountain ranges (with peaks over 1000 metres high), sedimentary basins and secondary limestone ranges. The rosé wines of Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence are light, supple, fruity and floral. Most of them are appreciated young. Their colour is pale pink with a bright glow. The reds, on the other hand, are balanced and fruity. Their nose has floral notes of violet or notes of other plants such as hay, laurel or tobacco, which give way to more evolved nuances such as cinnamon. The whites are fresh with fruity and floral notes.

  • Côtes de Provence: The Côtes de Provence appellation is vast, covering more than 20,000 hectares (just under 49,500 acres) in 84 communities, including 68 in the Var department, 15 in Bouches-du-Rhône and one in the Alpes-Maritimes. The area extends from limestone Provence in the west and north (Montagne Sainte-Victoire) to crystalline Provence in the south and east (Maures et Massif de l'Esterel). The AOC region is subject to a Mediterranean climate characterized by winds that are unique to it (including the Mistral). Mean annual temperatures range from 12°C to 15°C and precipitation is very low (600 to 900 millimetres). The duration of sunshine remains very long and lasts from 2700 to 3000 hours.

The rosé wines of Côtes de Provence have a pale pink colour. Depending on their origin, these very expressive wines have a range of flavours that are either fruity (white fruits, citrus fruits, exotic fruits, berries, etc.) or floral, combined with mineral or empyreumatic notes, supported by a balanced structure, between roundness and intensity. The red wines of Côtes de Provence, on the other hand, have a dark colour and are divided into two types: first, fruity red wines that spend little time in the cellar and must be tasted quickly and, second, cellar wines that have complex flavours of black berries, cocoa, spices and powerful silky tannins, obtained through longer vat times. The white wines of Côtes de Provence are dry, have a light yellow colour with green highlights. They offer aromas of fruity citrus fruits, floral (white flowers), balsamic or honey.

  • Coteaux Varois en Provence: the Coteaux Varois en Provence Appellation covers more than 2700 hectares (6700 acres) in 28 communities in the Var department. The wine-growing region of Coteaux Varois en Provence is located in the heart of limestone Provence, between the Sainte-Baume massif to the south and the Gorges du Verdon to the north, around Brignoles, the former summer residence of the Comtes de Provence. The landscape is characterized by pronounced mountainous reliefs that rise from 600 to more than 1000 metres in the Sainte-Baume massif. The altitude of the vineyards, varying between 350 and 500 metres, and the presence of rocky limestone mountain ranges that block maritime influences, make the Mediterranean climate of this area a little more continental. The vines are also subject to the influences of the violent, cold and dry winds of the Mistral Nord. Annual rainfall ranges from 700 to 900 millimetres, and the average temperature is around 13°C. The rosé wines of Coteaux Varois en Provence are dry with a very bright pink colour. They are characterized by aromas of fresh fruit - often berries, spicy notes where the garrigue, evocative of thyme, rosemary, broom and juniper, further enriches the complexity of this aromatic capacity. These wines present a beautiful balance between freshness and structure on the palate. The reds of Coteaux Varois en Provence are generous, structured and age well. Their tannins are rich and silky and they are marked by fruity notes that evolve towards a taste of spices and garrigue. The whites are dry and delicately flavoured. They present a beautiful balance between freshness and roundness.

The rosé wines of Provence

  • Rosé: with an average annual production of 150 million bottles of rosé, Provence is the leading French region for rosé production and supplies about 5% of the world's rosé wines. It even houses a centre dedicated to rosé wine; the objective is to improve its quality through research and experimentation. In Provence, there are two main techniques dedicated exclusively to its production: cold maceration or direct pressing. The choice between one of the two techniques is guided by several factors: the maturity of the harvest, the grape varieties vinified and their sensory potential, the choice of proportions during the mixing and the desired flavour. In both cases, making a rosé requires as much meticulousness to obtain an attractive colour and aromas, both delicate and expressive; peach, melon, mango, grapefruit, mandarin and currant are the six main colours that a rosé from Provence can have.

The main grape varieties of Provence

The white grapes of Provence include: Rolle, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. There are also the Bordeaux grape varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon (which are sanctioned in some regions.) Regional grapes such as Pascal, Terret Blanc, Spagnol and Pignerol are still used but disappear quickly.

Most of the traditional red grapes used in Provence can be found elsewhere in France, including: Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, there are red varieties unique to Provence, including Tibourne, Braquet, Calitour, Folle Noir and Barbaroux.

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