Provence, a French wine region tucked into the very southeast corner of the nation, is famed for its rosé wines and warm, mild Mediterranean climate. To the west of Provence is the Rhone River, while to the east is the Côte d’Azur. The wine region itself extends for 150 miles east to west, and 100 miles from north to south. It is the only wine region of France specifically focused on rosé wine production.
The best-known wines from Provence are the Cotes de Provence rosé wines. The Cotes de Provence is the largest wine appellation within Provence. The second largest appellation is Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. Two wine sub-zones growing in popularity include Bandol and Cassis, both of which are experimenting with wines beyond just rosé.
Popular grape varietals within Provence include Carignan, Barbaroux (known in Sardinia as Barbarossa), and Calitor. Other distinctively local grape varietals include Mourvedre and Vermentino (known locally as simply “Rolle”). Recently, however, there has been a push to include more international grape varietals, such as Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Overall, rosé accounts for approximately 75% of all wine production.
As might be imagined, this wine region’s Mediterranean location means that it has long, dry summers and plenty of sunshine. In fact, all of the region’s wineries are located within 25 miles of the Mediterranean. The famed Mistral winds and the sometimes violent storms of spring and fall, however, can make the weather more unpredictable than one might imagine.
Provence is actually the oldest winemaking region of France, with a history of viticulture dating back 2600 years. Due to its location along the Mediterranean, the region was experimenting with winemaking long before the ancient Romans arrived in the rest of France.
Here is a brief audio guide on Provence wine region. Check it out.