Southern France with the Mediterranean sun easily evokes vacation and nice moments. Provence is the sun’s kingdom, not just for holidays, but also for the winegrower. More than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year makes Provence to an excellent region for viticulture. The Greeks came to Marseille already 600 years before Christ, and contributed to the development of the wine culture. The Romans and the church monks then continued on the same track. Today, Provence is most famous for its rosé wines that represent the bulk of production. However, it would be a shame not to mention the red and white wines, which are often just as interesting as the rosés. Provence is a region of the southeastern France that covers the three departments of Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Alpes-Maritimes.
The vineyards extend from the Mediterranean Sea about 50 kilometers inland. 2500 years of wine growing here has had the consequence that an infinite number of varieties have been developed.
A few examples for this is that Palette for example which is a tiny appellation AOP totaling 20 ha is permitted to use more than 25 different grape varieties. 11 different varieties are used in Bandol and in the small Bellet appellation north from Nice, 17 different varieties are cultivated. This means that the wines in Provence can have very different characteristics depending on the composition, even if they are not produced very far apart. The most common varieties are Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah for red wines and Clairette and Vermentino, called Rolle in Provence, for the whites. The rosés and the whites are to be drunk young, like the lighter red wines. However, there are powerful red wines here which are excellent for storage. Today, there has been put great energy, not least thanks to the younger generation, to increase the quality and restore the reputation of the great olden days. The Romans are said to have been great Provence wine enthusiasts.
In Provence, there are 12 appellations and 18 wineries raised to a level called “Cru Classé”. These domains are considered to represent the highest quality in the district.
Among the 12 appellations, one can certainly argue that the AOP Bandol, AOP Cassis, AOP Aix-en-Provence, and AOP Côtes de Provence are the most famous. Bellet and Pallette are micro-appellations, but with superb wines that are well worth to be tried out.