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Jun 10, 2019

Provence, France is a multifaceted wine region. Although it makes mainly rosé, there is much to explore here. To start, not all of that rosé is created equal. And there are whites and reds you may not be aware of, that are just stunning. This podcast is a surprising, dorky, deep look at this beautiful wine region.

Climate and terroir

  • Between Mediterranean and the Alps – southeastern corner of France, covers coastline
  • No vineyard is more than 25 miles from the Mediterranean
  • Provence is the only French wine region outside of Bordeaux with classified estates
  • Climate: Low humidity, Mediterranean climate – sea is its southern border: sunny, dry and warm. Can get overripe grapes b/c of sunshine. Winds prevalent – including the Mistral
  • Land: Soil poor, very varied -- limestone, calcareous, volcanic
  • Mountains: Sainte-Victoire Mountain, Sainte-Baume Mountains, Massif des Maures

Blends, not varietal wines:

  • Reds: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Whites: Rolle/Vermentino, Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano, Sémillon, Clairette,Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc


Provence rosé appellations

  • Côtes de Provence
  • Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence
  • Coteaux Varois en Provence.


Côtes de Provence: 90% Rosé, 6.5% red, 3.5% white

  • Largest appellation in Provence
  • Center to the eastern borders of Provence – eastern portion of Provence in included
  • Nearly 75% of all the wine production in Provence
  • 90% of production is rosé
  • Quality of sites varies wildly, as does the wine quality
  • 4 subregions
    • Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire: Red and rosé (largest, most common)
    • Côtes de Provence Fréjus: 75% rosé, the rest is red
    • Côtes de Provence La Londe: 75% Rosé, 25% red
    • Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu: Cool climate rosé 


Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence: 82.5% Rosé, 5.5% White, 12% Red

  • 2nd largest area with various soil types
  • High acid, light rosé
  • Les Baux de Provence: (baou=rocky spur in Provence dialect) is within Aix
    • Tiny hilltop village, mainly organic viticulture – 85% of the farmers do organic or biodynamic
    • Makes red and roses (only 25% is rose) of GSM


Coteaux Varois en Provence: 85% Rosé, with red and white 

  • Western 1/3 of Provence central region of Provence, "calcareous Provence" – gravel, flint, limestone, calcareous soils in narrow valleys
  • High altitude, small area  

Bandol Wine: Nearly 70% is red wine with rosé, small amt of white 

  • Bandol is most famous for its red wines, Mourvèdre is at least 50% of the blend, though most producers will use significantly more
  • Whites: Clairette – 50-90% of Bandol Blanc with Bourboulenc, Ugni Blanc, Marsanne, Rolle, Sauv Blanc, Semillon 

Bellet Wine: Equal amounts of white, red, rosé 

  • Near Nice in hills of N, E, W on terraces – very steep, some single vineyard sites
  • Mostly consumed by tourists in Nice


Palette: Red, white, rosé made east of Aix-en-Provence in hills

  • Chateau Simone owns half the vineyards here – Ch Cremade, Ch Henri Bonnaud, Ch de Meyreuil and La Badiane make the rest


Coteaux de Pierrevert: Cool climate red, white and rosé wines are mainly made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut, Clairette and Rolle 

Cassis Wine: White is 75% of production, with red and rosé

  • Full-bodied, lower acid, herbal whites.
  • Clairette, Marsanne, Bourboulenc, Pascal, Sauvignon Blanc,
  • Rose and red from Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache



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Podcasts referenced:

Ep 160: The Rosé Story with Ian Renwick

Ep 227: Derek Van Dam, CNN Weatherman on Weather and Wine

Ep 277: Bordeaux -- An Insider View with Serge Doré