Oenologie - Tout savoir sur les vins de Provence - Les Grappes

All about the wines of Provence

A few words about the region

One recognizes Provence with its rocky mountains, its scented fields of lavender, but especially its wine! It all began 2600 years ago, when the Phocaeans founded Marseille and introduced the vine. Four centuries after the Phocaeans, with the settlement of the Romans on the Provencal land, the cultivation of grapes became prolific and spread rapidly throughout the country, making Provence the first wine region in France.

Its wine-growing region stretches over nearly 200 km between the Mediterranean and the Alps, in the Var and the 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, the landscape of Provence is unique in the world. This landscape includes the restanques: very steep terraces on which plots of vines are planted, as well as walls and groves of trees typical of the region. These elements structure the landscape and protect its biodiversity by sheltering wild species of all kinds.

In Provence, wine is not just a simple product; discovering a Provencal wine means understanding where it comes from, whether it's from the region or not.immersing itself in the land that gave it its character, as well as going to meet 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 (over 10,300 acres) and is located in 47 communes in the Bouches-du-Rhône and Var departments. This area mainly comprises: the western part of limestone Provence and extends from the river Durance in the north to the Mediterranean in the south, and then to the Rhô Valleyne in the west to the Montagne Sainte-Victoire in the east, encircling the town 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. Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence rosés are light, supple, fruity and floral. Most of them are appreciated young. Their colour is pale pink with a vivid brilliance. The reds are balanced and fruity. Their nose presents 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 the Bouches-du-Rhône and one community in the Alpes-Maritimes. The area extends from the limestone Provence to the west and north (Montagne Sainte-Victoire), to the crystalline Provence to the south and east (Maures and Massif de l'Esterel). The AOC region is subject to a Mediterranean climate characterized by winds that are unique to it (including the Mistral). Average annual temperatures vary between 12 °C and 15 °C and rainfall is very low (between 600 and 900 millimetres). The sunshine duration remains very long and lasts from 2700 to 3000 hours.

Côtes de Provence rosés have a pale pink colour. Depending on their origin, these very expressive wines present a palette of flavours that is 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, for their part, have a dark colour and are divided into two types: firstly, the fruity red wines which spend little time in the cellar and must be tasted quickly and, secondly, the cellar wines which have complex flavours of black berries, cocoa, spices and powerful silky tannins, obtained through longer vatting times.The white wines of Côtes de Provence are dry, have a light yellow colour with green reflections. 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 region of Coteaux Varois en Provence is located in the heart of limestone Provence, between the Sainte-Baume massif in the south and the Gorges du Verdon in the north, around Brignoles, former summer residence of the Counts of Provence. The landscape is characterized by pronounced mountainous reliefs which culminate from 600 to more than 1000 meters in the massif of Sainte-Baume. The altitude of the vineyards, varying between 350 and 500 metres, and the presence of rocky limestone mountain ranges that block out 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 North Mistral. Annual rainfall varies between 700 and 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 have a good balance between freshness and structure on the palate, while 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 nice balance between freshness and roundness.

Wines of Provence

Rosé wines:

Côtes de Provence rosés have a pale pink colour. Depending on their origin, these very expressive wines present a palette of flavours that is 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.

With an average annual production of 150 million bottles of rosé, Provence is the leading French rosé-making region and supplies around 5% of the world's rosé wines. It even has a centre dedicated to rosé wine; the aim 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 blending and the desired flavour. In both cases, making a rosé requires the same meticulous attention to detail in order to obtain a colour and attractive aromas that are both delicate and expressive; peach, melon, mango, grapefruit, tangerine and redcurrant are the six main colours that a Provence rosé can have.

The reds:

One should not talk about Provence while forgetting to talk about its superb red wines. With their power and their robust character, these wines warm us in winter. Their crimson colour presents purple reflections in their youth while ruby tints appear with the years. They are divided into two types: firstly, red wines that emit fruity notes reminiscent of red fruit and which spend little time in the cellar and must be tasted quickly and, secondly, cellar wines that have complex flavours of black berries, cocoa, spices and powerful silky tannins, obtained through longer vatting times. With age, the red wines of Provence reveal a whole new character. You will find in Provence red wines that are supple on the palate but also sometimes rustic and powerful.

The whites:

White wines from Provence have long been the darlings of Provençal restaurateurs, blending perfectly with Mediterranean cuisine and its fish. White wines from Provence spoil us with their subtlety and finesse. They offer us a brilliant pale yellow colour with green reflections. On the nose, this wine is discreet and sometimes emits aromas of citrus fruits, flowers, and even some spices such as pepper. They are structured, fresh and are also suitable for ageing. On the gastronomy side, a white wine from Provence will perfectly accompany a good bouillabaisse!

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 Semillon (which are sanctioned in some regions.) Regional grapes such as Pascal, Terret Blanc, Spagnol and Pignerol are still used but are rapidly disappearing.

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. There are, however, red varieties unique to Provence, including Tibourne, Braquet, Calitour, Folle Noir and Barbaroux.

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