Quick and Easy Guide to the Wines of Provence
Brush up on your knowledge of wines from the playground of France.
Provence is home to some of France’s oldest, but least well-known vineyards, some of which date back to Roman times. Ample light levels, free-draining soils of sand and granite, low rainfall and a long ripening season provide an ideal climate for viticulture. Historically ill-served by the Paris-based Institut National des Appellations d’Origine, wines from Provence can offer terrific value and variety.
Area Under Vine:
Bordered by the Rhône in the west and the Côte d’Azur in the east, mountains in the north and the Mediterranean in the south, viticultural Provence extends over little more than 100 square miles with some 25,000 hectares under vine.
88% of production is rosé, 75% of which is bottled as Côtes de Provence.
Côtes de Provence, Côteaux d’Aix en Provence, Bandol, Bellet, Cassis, Palette, Les Baux de Provence and Côtes du Luberon.
Rolle, Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache noir and Carignan.
Château Simone, Domaines Tempier, Ott, Bunan, Richeaume and Trévallon, Château la Canorgue, Clos Sainte Magdeleine, Vignelaure.
Bouillabaisse, Salade Niçoise, Aïoli, Pissaladière, Ratatouille, Banon and Picadon cheeses, stuffed courgette flowers, olives, agneau de Sisteron and tartare de thon.
Restaurants we like:
La Paillotte (Cassis), Christian Étienne (Avignon), La Maison Jaune (St-Rémy), Le Fournil (Bonnieux), L’ Auberge des Michels (Peynier) and Le Petit Verdot (Aix).
Famous people from the region:
Authors Sybille Bedford (grew up near Sanary) and Jean-Claude Izzo (Marseilles), footballers Eric Cantona and Zinedine Zidane (Marseilles) pastis magnate Paul Ricard, folk band the Gipsy Kings (Arles) and Vincent van Gogh (resident in Arles at time of death).
Things to do:
Go hiking in the Verdon gorges or horse-riding across the Camargue delta, attend the music festivals in Aix or Arles, see Olympique Marseilles play football, picnic in Les Calanques, visit the hilltop villages of Les Baux or Gordes.
Bandol rosé, Mas de la Rouvière.
Domaine de Trévallon rouge.