Despite being the probable place where the ancient Greeks first established the vine in France, Provence was for many years happy to thrive on its tourism and pay scant regard to its wines.
This was a travesty, as the climate and conditions are absolutely ideal for viniculture and their potential is now beginning to be exploited. The Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence are the workhorse appellations that quench...Read More
the thirst of the holidaymaker, but Bandol, Bellet, Cassis and Palette are much smaller areas that produce wines of quality and character for the more discerning drinker.
The one threat to the continuing rise of the wines of Provence is competition for land as development seeks to push out the vineyards. Hopefully sense will prevail, for it would be an unhappy new home without a fine local bottle to toast it with.
Provence is a region that was once dedicated to rosé, and this still accounts for two-thirds of its wine, but more recently its reds have emerged from the shadows and, though small, white wine production is ever improving. The rosé was once little more than a pleasing holiday tipple, but improved techniques and dedication have ensured that the best is now worthy of bringing home as well. The reds, meanwhile, are achieving excellent results.
There are great similarities with the Rhône and the Languedoc-Roussillon in terms of the vines that are grown. Grenache and Carignan are the main contributors to rosé, and along with Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre they also make the majority of the red wines. Clairette, Ugni Blanc, Rolle and Marsanne are important grapes in the production of white wine.
International varieties have made recent headway in Provence. Cabernet Sauvignon is at the forefront of this, though Pinot Noir, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc have also enjoyed success.
Extending from Nice in the east to the Rhône in the west, the climate is a reliable Mediterranean one and the soils are varied but favourable. Warm summers and rain in winter, as well as a topography that provides shelter from the harsh Mistral winds, means that the Provençal grape grower has little to complain about. A lack of expertise and ambition, rather than nature, has been his or her traditional foe. Thankfully, attitude and environment are now equally sunny.