In a triangle formed near the Mediterranean coast by Nice in the
east, Marseille in the west and Avignon to the northwest, lays the
region of Provence.
This region the first in France to turn to winemaking 2,600 years
ago, today holds 500 wineries and has 68,000 acres of vineyards. It
is small in comparison to the nearly 10 times larger 6.7 million
acres of Languedoc-Roussillon.
The siliceous and limestone soils of this area cooperate with mild
winters and hot summers to grow Grenache and Syrah as well as Ugni
Blanc, Rolle and Clairette, among others.
This area long considered a producer of mediocre wine has been
experiencing a comeback during the last few decades. While
regulations have caused many to forgo obtaining the vaunted AOC
label (Appellation d'Origine Controlee) The VDQS (Vin de Qualite
Superieur a step below AOC) wines are in taste second to none.
Many grapes are used in Provence, however the rose continues to be a
specialty of the region. 75% of the total production comes from this
and produces 140 million bottles, or 45% of total French rose
output. Made from Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvedre and others its
fruity zest is dry.
Also produced here, the Bandol and Bellet are treasured by
connoisseurs of fine wine.
Between La Ciotat and Toulon in the hills grow Bandol vines, facing
the Mediterranean Sea. First planted by the Romans 2,500 years ago
the vineyards here are among the oldest in France. Bandol has been
exported to India and Brazil for 2 centuries by the nearby port of
One of the best full-bodied Provence reds is produced here with the
spicy, red Mourvedre grown in this area. This wine can be somewhat
difficult to find because it is produced on only 2,700 acres that
yield only 5 million bottles.
Just west of Nice, Bellet is one of the smallest appellations in
France. Rolle and Chardonnay are grown on 80 acres of land here and
the plants become so steep that they must be worked by hand. This
work produces 80,000 bottles of some of the best aromatic whites,
fresh roses, and delicate reds available. The local Braquet forms a
red that can age up to ten years. If they can be found be certain to
pay attention to the honey and banana overtones of the white,
especially good with shellfish and Banon cheese.
Visit the Chateau Sainte Roseline for a special treat. This area has
been under cultivation for seven centuries. The less than 300 acres
in this area is home for 11 varieties of grapes including, Syrah,
Mourvedre, and Cabernet Sauvignon to make red, and include Cinsault
and Tibouren for the famous rose, and Rolle and Semillon to make
Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.
Sip of Wine
Wine Aging Table
Wine and Cheese
Wine and Health
British Columbia, Canada
Cotes Du Rhone