Ideally located between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the wineeyards of Provence cover nearly 27,000 hectares, spread over 3 departments: the Var, the Bouches-du-Rhône and a small commune in the Alpes-Maritimes. Particularly renowned for the production of rosé wine, Provence benefits from a history and a terroir that makes it particularly well known for its production of rosé wine, and to a lesser extent, of white and red wine.
THE HISTORY OF PROVENCE WINES
The origins of Provence wine go back more than 2,600 years, when the Phocaeans came to settle in Marseille, taking winee plants with them. The cultivation of winees thus began in Provence, never to stop. In the 2nd century, it was the Romans, whose empire stretched over an increasingly vast territory, who allowed the Provençal wineeyards to expand. The cultivation of winees and the production of wine, until then limited to the south of France, then developed throughout France. The wineeyards of Provence are thus, at least in part, at the origin of all French wineeyards.
Despite a slight loss of momentum in viticulture after the fall of the Roman Empire, it picked up again from the 5th to the 13th century, under the influence of the monks who produced wine and made it a commercial product. If the wines of Provence were then consumed by the nobility, consumption quickly spread to the entire population.
It was in the 20th century, after the phylloxera crisis of 1880 which destroyed all the wineeyards in Provence, that a cooperative movement was organised and the first AOCs of Provence were created. The aim was then to group together the know-how of the winegrowers to face the difficulties and optimise the conditions of production, but also to promote the wines of Provence.
THE GEOGRAPHY OF PROVENCE WINES
Spread over nearly 200 km, the Provence wineeyards benefit from a diverse topography, where the most varied natural sites rub shoulders. Between the coastline lined with fine sandy beaches or cliffs, and the volcanic and rocky mountain ranges, Provence enjoys an absolutely unique landscape. Among the Provençal exceptions which benefit the winee, the restanques allow an unusual viticulture. It is indeed on these very steep terraces that the winees are sometimes planted, for a very particular growth of the grape, imprinted with the Provencal soil.
THE DIFFERENT GRAPE VARIETIES OF PROVENCE WINES
The south of France has a unique terroir, where very special grape varieties flourish. These grape varieties, which thrive in sunny, chalky or crystalline soils, produce wines that are typical of Provence.
Grape varieties of Provence red and rosé wines
For red and rosé wines, the major grape varieties found in Provence are 7: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Carignan, Tibouren, Mourvèdre and Cabernet-Sauvignon.
The grape varieties of Provence 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 white grape varieties: Ugni White, Rolle (Vermentino), Bourboulenc, Clairette, Sémillon and Sauvignon.
The Provençal wineeyard then produces wine of all three colours, but the production of rosé wines of Provence remains dominant, representing nearly 90% of the national production.
THE TERROIR OF PROVENÇAL WINES
The terroir of Provence is as diverse as its landscapes. There are many contrasts, both in terms of subsoil and climate. However, we consider that the terroir of Provence can be divided into two large areas.
- The West and North of Provence: the 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 South of Provence: facing the sea, the soils are crystalline and offer a softer relief where the maquis reigns. The Maures massif and the Tanneron massif can be found here. This area is prolonged by the Côte d'Azur and its volcanic holes. The soils here are poorer, shallow and well drained, as can be seen in the Esterel massif.
As far as the climate is concerned, Provence is a sunny region with little rainfall, and the cool Mistral wind refreshes the air. The climatic conditions are ideal for the cultivation of winees.
THE APPELLATIONS OF PROVENCE WINES
Provence has no less than 8 appellations, each offering wines of great typicity:
- The appellations Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, Baux de Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence: these three appellations are grouped together 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: the Côtes de Provence AOC is vast and very heterogeneous, both in terms of the quality of the white and rosé wines and the price. Since 2004, 3 appellations have been added: Côtes de Provence Sainte-Victoire, Côtes de Provence La Londe and Fréjus.
- The Palette appellation: producing rosé and white wines of character, this appellation near Aix-en-Provence represents a very small part of the wines of Provence;
- The Cassis appellation: this white wine AOC offers very heterogeneous, but relatively simple to drink, coastal wines;
- The Bandol appellation: considered as the best red wine of Provence, the Bandol red AOC offers powerful wines that can be aged. There are also well-constructed rosés, and some rather classic whites.
Would you like to know more about the wines of Provence? The Domaine de Berne invites you to discover this exceptional terroir and the quality wines produced each year.