Wine growing region Provence
The Provence wine region is located in the south of France, in the Région Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. It stretches along the almost 200-kilometer-long coastline from the Départment Alpes Maritimes in the east to the Var in the middle and the Bouches-du-Rhône in the west. Provence is France's most important region for rosé.
The wine styles of Provence
One could almost speak of a single style of wine: more than 600 wineries produce around 1.2 million hectoliters of wine a year - and almost 90 percent of it in a single, and on top of that, extremely pale color: the typical rosé from Provence is a wine whose light salmon pink does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about its strong, yet mostly finely structured mineral character. Probably the most prominent example from recent times is the excellent Miraval Rosé Côtes de Provence AOC from Château Miraval, the estate of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
Rosé - and nothing else? Not quite.
Some AOPs like Rasteau and Bandol stand for spirited, lush red wines and refined, elegant white wines, such as the Rasteau AOP from the Domaine Notre Dame des Pallieres or the Blanc Bandol AOP from Château de Pibarnon.
The sun of Provence and the Mistral
What does an ideal wine growing region look like? 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and locations close to the sea, at up to 500 meters of altitude or in protected valleys are not the worst conditions. In addition, there are sandy subsoils interspersed with limestone and scree, such as around Mont Sainte-Victoire or in the catchment area of the Alpes Maritimes. Despite heavy storms from autumn to spring, the vines thrive wonderfully. This is ensured by the mistral, which initially blows gently and warmly, but soon brings severe cold. It sweeps excess moisture from the plants and the already permeable soils. This natural protection against fungi, parasites and other rot-related diseases benefits organic viticulture, which is also becoming increasingly common in Provence.
Provence: the layout of the vineyards
As much as the mistral helps to keep the vineyard healthy, it has a destructive effect on tender shoots and ripening grapes. In unprotected areas of the Vaucluse, on the Bouches du Rhône, on the Côte d'Azur and in the flatter foothills of the Alpes Maritimes, the traditional, wind-prone bush or gobelet cultivation can still be found occasionally. It is increasingly giving way to modern viticulture systems; rows of trellis facing the wind offer less resistance to the ravages of the mistral. Typical of the Provençal winegrowing style are the "restanques": for centuries, vineyards have been planted on steeper slopes in narrow terraces, supported by walls - still built by hand - to reduce erosion by water and wind.
The 13 most important grape varieties in the kingdom of rosé
A total of 36 grape varieties are authorized for vinification in the AOCs and IGPs of Provence, most of them, including Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, but not everywhere. Several regional crops such as Pascal, Terret Blanc, Spagnol or Pignerol are gradually disappearing from the vineyards.
Besides Mouvèdre, Grenache and the autochthonous grape variety Tibouren, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon are mainly used for Provence wines.
As the oldest known (but not autochthonous) grape variety in the region, its role, closely related to that of Vermentino, gives Provence wines a character reminiscent of citrus fruits and ripe pears. The Côtes de Provence AOC Rosé from Château d'Esclans, for example, combines them with four red grape varieties - Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Tibouren - to create an excellent cuvée. In addition to Rolle, the white varieties Clairette, Marsanne, Sémillon and white Bourboulenc are also grown.
Things to know about Provence
Which important AOCs are found in Provence?
If you walk the paths of the wine critic Hugh Johnson, for him in Provence "only the name of the estate or winemaker" counts. But at least the AOCs have become "a much more reliable quality guide than before". Among the best known are gems such as the AOCs Bandol, Cassis and Palette, but also larger denominations such as the AOC Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence or Les Baux-de-Provence (only for red wines). From the great AOC Côtes de Provence with its sub-appellations Sainte-Victoire, La Londe, Fréjus and Pierrefeu come some of the best rosés of southern France. So perhaps it is best to follow the advice of Hugh Johnson after all? Alternatively, just browse the wine shelves at VINELLO.
How did Provence come to wine?
Rosé, the trend wine of the 21st century, looks back on a long tradition. A good 2,600 years ago, Greek merchants founded the seaport of Massalia (today's Marseille). They brought not only the first vines to the Rhône delta, but also a recipe for rosé wines. At that time, blue grapes were processed immediately after pressing, just like white grapes. This gave the wine a pale pink tone; a longer maceration, to which the red wine owes its strong color, was only developed later in Europe. When the Romans annexed southern Gaul in the second century BC, rosé-colored wines were already among the most sought-after commercial goods in the region.
What methods are used in Provence to produce rosé?
The typical delicate salmon pink of Provençal rosé wines is the result of a short fermentation: after the grape pressing, the juice remains in contact with the skins for six hours to a maximum of two days. During this relatively short time, the color pigments and tannins are released from the skins only to a limited extent. This is different in the production of red wine - here the maceration lasts between four days and four weeks.
The "bleeding" (French "saigner" = "bleeding") provides the basis for strong red wine and delicate rosé in a single operation: part of the must is drawn off the mash after 48 hours at the latest and vinified separately to produce rosé wine. The mixture remaining in the tank is characterized by a higher concentration of skins in the juice, resulting in red wine of denser structure and richer color. Rosés produced according to the Saignée method are usually light and fruity, with fresh citrus and strawberry aromas.
IGP or AOC rosés may contain a small amount of white grapes - provided that the latter are fermented together with the red grapes. EU law prohibits blending after maceration, with the exception of rosé sparkling wines, including Champagne Rosé.
Discover wines from Provence online on VINELLO
Enjoy top wines from Provence at reasonable prices from our online store. At VINELLO you will find a representative selection of winemakers and wineries from Provence. With us you shop safely and can look forward to a fast delivery of your order. We also offer a variety of payment options from which you can choose your preferred method of payment.
Another advantage with VINELLO: Our sommeliers are available by phone for a detailed consultation to introduce you to the world of Provence wines. This makes it easier and quicker for you to find your favorites, be it for a special occasion, an evening with friends or for your own private enjoyment.