Ideally located between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Provence vineyard covers nearly 27,000 hectares, spread over 3 departments: the Var, the Bouches-du-Rhône and a small town in the Alpes-Maritimes. Particularly recognized for the production of rosé wine, Provence benefits from a story and a terroir which earns it to be particularly recognized for its production of rosé wine, and in smaller quantities, white wine and red wine.
The history of Provence wines
The origin of Provence wine dates back over 2,600 years, when the Phocaeans came to settle in Marseille, taking vine plants with them. The culture of the vineyard started in Provence, to never stop. In the 2nd century, it was the Romans, whose empire stretched on an increasingly large territory, which allow the Provencal vineyard to expand. The cultivation of the vine and the production of wine, hitherto limited in the south of France, then developed throughout France. The vines of Provence are therefore, in any case, in part, at the origin of all the French vineyards.
Despite a short output of viticulture at the fall of the Roman Empire, it is growing from the 5th to the 13th century, under the influence of the monks that produce wine and make it a trade product. If Provence wines were consumed by nobles, consumption will quickly extend to the entire population.
It was in the 20th century, after the phylloxera crisis of 1880 which destroyed all the Provencal vineyards, that a cooperative movement was organized, and that the first AOCs of Provence were born. The goal was then to bring together the know-how of the winemakers to deal with difficulties and optimize production conditions, but also to promote Provence wines.
The geography of Provence wines
Extended over almost 200 km, the Provence vineyard benefits from a diverse topography, where the most varied natural sites rub shoulders. Between the coastline bordered by sandy beaches or cliffs, and the volcanic and rocky mountain chains, Provence enjoys an absolutely unique landscape. Among the Provencal exceptions that benefit the vineyard, the restanques allow extraordinary viticulture. It is indeed on these very steep terraces that the vines are sometimes planted, for a very special grape growth, imprint of the Provencal terroir.
The different grape varieties of Provence wines
The south of France benefits from a unique terroir, on which very special grape varieties flourish. Gourmands in sun and in limestone or crystalline massive floors, these grape varieties make it possible to produce wines typical of Provence.
The grape varieties of Provence red wines and rosé wines
On the side of red and rosé wine, the major grape varieties found in Provence 7: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Tibouren, Mourvèdre and Cabernet-Sauvignon.
The grape varieties of Provence of white wines
Although the white wine of Provence is not the dominant production in the region, it nevertheless carries the originality of the wines of the south, thanks to different grape varieties in white: the white UGNI, the rolle (vermentino), the bourboulenc, the Clairette, Sémillon and Sauvignon.
The Provençal vineyard then produces wine from the 3 colors, but the production of pink wines from Provence remains dominant, representing almost 90 % of national production.
The Provencal Wine Terroir
The local of Provence is as diverse as its landscapes. The contrasts are numerous, both in terms of basements, and in terms of climates. It is considered, however, that the Provence terroir is split into two large areas.
- West and northern Provence: limestone soils sculpted by erosion offer hills covered with garrigue, the best known of which are the Sainte-Victoire mountain and the Sainte-Baume massif;
- The east and the south of Provence: facing the sea, the floors are crystalline and offer a softer relief where the maquis reigns. There is the Moors massif and the Tanneron massif. This area is extended by the French Riviera and its volcanic gaps. The floors are poorer, shallow and well -drained, as we can see on the Esterel massif.
In terms of climate, the Provence terroir is a sunny region with little precipitation, and the fresh wind of the Mistral refreshes the air. Climatic conditions are ideal for cultivating the vine.
The names of Provence wines
Provence counts no less than 8 appellations, offering each wines of great typicity:
- The hillsides of Aix en Provence, the leases of Provence and the Var hillsides in Provence: these 3 appellations are gathered here, because the properties are close to each other, and the potential of their wines depends mainly on the work of the producers;
- The Côtes de Provence appellation: AOC Côtes de Provence is vast and very heterogeneous, both on the quality of white and rosé wines, and on the price. Since 2004, 3 appellations have been added: the Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, the Côtes de Provence La Londe and the Fréjus.
- The appellation palette: producing pink wines and white wines of character, this appellation close to Aix-en-Provence represents a very small part of the wines of Provence;
- The Cassis appellation: this white wine AOC offers very heterogeneous coastal wines, but relatively simple to drink;
- The Bandol name: considered the best red wine in Provence, the Red Bandol AOC offers powerful wines capable of aging. There are also well constructed rosés, and some rather classic whites.
Would you like to know more about Provence wines? The Domaine de Bern invites you to discover this exceptional terroir, as well as the wines of product quality each year.