Map Source: "Vins de Provence"
We have been lucky enough to travel many times to the Provence, visiting the wineries and enjoying this beautiful French region located at the Mediterranean Coast. A large part of Provence lays landwards hours away from the blue water and white beaches. The region starts in the East at the French / Italian boarder and roughly ends on the western side at the Rhone River. In the North the Provence ends short after Briançon, which lays over 1.200 Meter altitude in the middle of the alps and in the South is the warm Mediterranean Sea.
As diverse as the region, so are the Rosés!
The Provence wine region is organized by nine appellations (AOCs). The Côtes de Provence appellation is the largest followed by Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. The other 6 appellations are Les Baux-de-Provence, Pierrevert, Bandol, Cassis, Bellet and Palette. The Côtes de Provence AOC includes 4 additional geographic designations that can place their names on the label: Fréjus, La Londe, Pierrefeu and Sainte-Victoire. (see the different appellations on the map above)
More details about some of our favorite Provence AOCs:
The Côtes de Provence AOC, is the largest appellation. This complex region contains a number of different soils and climates, with more than 20.000 hectares of vines and 352 independent wineries. Let’s showcase Château Roubine - Cru Classé as it is located in the center of the Côtes de Provence appellation next to the little city Lorgue. The Château Roubine vineyard is bordered by pines and oaks with a natural drainage, an ideal East / West orientation and with clay-limestone soil. The Rosés tend to come with full aromas, multi-layered and with powerful charming fruit flavors.
A little sub-region of the Côtes de Provence appellation is “La Londe” which is directly located at the coast and one of our favorites. The immediate proximity of the Mediterranean Sea determines the climate specific to this area. Mild winters but also mild summers offer a perfect balance for the vines. It doesn’t heat up as much during the day and the nights stay mild all year around which prevents frost and in summer sunburns of the grapes. (yes this can happen ;-)) The Rosés from this area come with a fine light fruitiness, a saline minerality, lower acidity and a surprising hint of creaminess. We have four wineries from this pearl of the Provence in our portfolio: Château Sainte Marguerite, Château Léoube, Château Pas Du Cerf and Figuière.
The second largest appellation is Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence that is located in the North of Marseille around the beautiful medieval town AIX en Provence. A strong influence in the region is the Mistral with its predominantly cold, dry winds blowing from the North. This gives the appellation an annual average of 2.900 hours of sunshine. The little rain that it receives primarily falls during spring and autumn. The risk of diseases and other harm is therefore limited. This is perfect for the vines and the grapes. The Rosés from this area with mineral rich soils tend to be fresh and fragrant with subtle fruit aromas and with a nice minerality. The most famous Rosé from this area is of course the “AIX”.
The next area is the Coteaux Varois en Provence:
The vineyards of Coteaux Varois en Provence are located in the heart of "calcareous Provence". Production is strictly limited to 28 communes around Brignoles, in its basins and narrow valleys on high altitude. The terroir of the former summer home of the Provence Counts, is distinguished by pronounced mountain reliefs, that peak at 600 up to more than 1,000 meters. Rocky mountain ranges provide a natural blockade against maritime influences. All of this topography gives the Coteaux Varois en Provence a continental climate: the often very mild autumns and springs alternate with torrid summers and very cold, harsh winters that are more pronounced than in the rest of the Provence. The soil is very calcareous. The Rosés from this appellation come with a great fresh acidity and vibrant fruit. Our star Rosé from this appellation is the Château Favori Rosé.
The last appellation we will highlight is Bandol:
Sheltered by the Sainte Baume massif in the North which rises to 1.147 Meter, the Bandol vineyards descend in terraces towards the sea in a marvelous amphitheater of wooded hills. Oriented due South, facing the sea, the vineyards benefits from annual sunshine of nearly 3.000 hours. At its feet, the Mediterranean Sea protects the vines from temperature variations while on the heights, the hills with their pine forests and oak forests block the cold winds from the North. Sheltered from this natural amphitheater dotted with olive and almond trees, the vineyards enjoy a microclimate where sea and land breezes provide a fair balance of ventilation and rain. A specialty of this appellation is the grape variation “Mourvèdre”. Mourvèdre produces robust wines with delicate, assertive tannins which adds an extra layer of flavor and body to Rosé Cuvées. We have two Bandol Rosés in our portfolio: The famous Domaines Ott “Château Romassan” and the Bastide Blanche Bandol Rosé.
The Provence with its great and diverse regions offers the world best Rosés that are as exciting as the Provence itself.