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France

Provence

  • Provence is a very large region that includes all of the wines of the southeast France, from the Rhône river to the Italian border. This includes Coteaux d’Aix en Provence and Côtes de Provence, as well as certain well-known crus, including Cassis, Palette, Bandol and Bellet.

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  • The climate in Provence is fully Mediterranean, with hot summers and winters that are rainy and mild. Another important influence is the powerful Mistral wind that blows through the vineyards, eliminating most rot and disease.

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  • Provence uses many of the same grape varieties as the Rhône Valley, with a few additions. One important addition is Cabernet Sauvignon, along with other, less well known grapes like Tibouren, a light red that has a pronounced “garrigue” or herbal note, and the white Vermentino or Rolle, that also has a certain herbal character to the fruit. It is relatively full-bodied and deeply colored for a white wine.

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  • Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, Côtes de Provence and Coteaux Varois produce mostly red and rosé wines from the customary grape varieties of the region, and the Vins de Pays in this region include Bouches du Rhône and Var.

    Bandol is a well-regarded cru located very close to the sea and whose wines must be at least 50% Mourvedre and spend 18 months in cask. The whites from Bandol uses Cairette, Ugni Blanc, Bourbelenc and Sauvignon Blanc. Cassis, a beach town famous for its coves or calanques, is known for white wine produced from its terraced vineyards and blended from the customary varieties.

    Palette is located further inland and is well known because of one famous property: Château Simone. Here the red uses customary grapes blended with local specialties such as Teolier, Castet, Manosquan, Branfeignas. The white is from the customary varieties plus Muscat.

    Bellet produces similar wines, with the addition of Braquet and Folle Noir to the reds, and Chardonnay is blended with the Rolle.

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  • The island of Corsica is also usually discussed along with Provence. The reds use mostly Provençal grape varieties, along with local grapes Nielluccio and Sciacarello, while the whites are mostly Vermentino with a bit of Ugni Blanc. The two best areas are Ajaccio and Patrimonio and the Vin de Pay is Ile de Beauté.

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