Provence Wine - Buying Guide

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The History of Provence Wine

Historically the region has inspired poets, writers and artists. This muse like quality has continued to this day, attracting an increasing number of celebrities keen to put their mark on the wine world. With or without celebrity involvement, the Provence wine region has a variety of exciting producers and the region is a fantastic place to discover through its wine, food and its stunning, serene scenery.

Provence is one of the oldest wine regions of France, along with Languedoc-Roussillon. Wine has been produced in this region since the Greeks founded Massalia, now known as the City of Marseille, a staggering 2600 years ago. As the Romans expanded their Empire, and settled in the Provence region, then known as ‘Provincia Romana’ and ‘Provincia Nostra’, they enhanced the viticulture, of the already thriving wine production laid down by the Greeks, and expanded cultivation into other regions such as the Rhone Valley. Whilst the region has been influenced by a number of cultures since then, including the Saracens, Catalans, Sardinians and Noble folk, wine production has always been a constant. After surviving the nationwide vine disease, Phylloxera, which wiped out almost every vine in the land, and the introduction of the Railways making wine transportation easier, the region has always found a way to flourish. It is now internationally celebrated for its production of fine rosé wines, and admired for its pronouncedly flavoured, aromatic red wines.  

Appellations of Provence

The Climate of Provence is perfectly suited to grape growing for uniquely different reasons to those of neighbouring wine regions. As the sun beats down onto the southern region, so too the Mistral winds move through the region and its vineyards, cooling the grapes and keeping pests at bay. Each appellation’s wine production benefits from the climate and change in terroir to varying degrees, impacting the style of the wines produced.

The Climate of Provence is perfectly suited to grape growing for uniquely different reasons to those of neighbouring wine regions. As the sun beats down onto the southern region, so too the Mistral winds move through the region and its vineyards, cooling the grapes and keeping pests at bay. Each appellation’s wine production benefits from the climate and change in terroir to varying degrees, impacting the style of the wines produced.

Côtes de Provence

The region’s largest appellation is that of Côte de Provence, spanning over 20,000 hectares. Whilst the appellation produces some red and white wine, it is known for rosé wine which provides for 90% of the appellation’s wine production. The appellation is large enough that its terroir can vary quite considerably, having a varying impact on the wines flavour profile. Rosé wine can vary from being attractively pale pink in colour, to slightly deeper shades with more recent vintages. The flavour profiles can also vary from citrus notes to intense exotic and red fruits. All however, are notably refreshing, making them a perfect summer complement. Red wines of the appellation are often bright in appearance, deep ruby, and offer juicy red fruits and hints of ‘garrigue’ aromatic shrubbery such as Thyme, Lavender and Rosemary, unique to the southern terroir of France. White wines of the region are light, aromatic, fresh and zingy on the palette, often offering notes of citrus, pear and tropical fruits.

Subregions of Côtes de Provence

Sainte-Victoire

Located at the base of Saint-Victoire Mountain lies this remarkable sub region of Côte de Provence. The mountain offers suitable shelter from the maritime cooling influence and helps control the impact of the Mistral winds so that the opportunity for damage is minimised, whilst the winds being sufficiently impactive to keep disease at bay. The terroir and climate allows for the production of bold red wines and delicate, juicy rosé.

La Londe

La Londe is the seaside appellation of the region, with the vineyards planted in close proximity to receiving the sea breeze and Mediterranean maritime influences. Whilst the climate is still warm, sunny and fine, the climate is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean Sea’s temperament. The wind resistant Grenache, hardy Syrah and slow to ripen Mourvèdre grape varietals thrive in this seaside sub region.

Fréjus

Fréjus receives the highest levels of precipitation of the region however balanced out with a continuous flow of sunshine. Exposure to maritime influences creates a mesoclimate idea for the production of red and rosé wines. Its terroir is a blend of sandy clay, maritime deposits and sandy metamorphic soils. It is also the ideal terroir for the rather unique Provencal grape varietal Tibouren.

Pierrefeu

Located in the West of the region and sitting at an altitude of four hundred metres, this subregion benefits from both the inland warmth and the cooling influences of the sea.

Notre-Dame Des Anges

Notre-Dame Des Anges is the newest appellation of the Côtes de Provence region, being granted AOC status in 2019. Its name relates to the highest point of the mountains, which can be seen from every area in the sub region. Rosé and red wines of this appellation are noted for their fruity, easy drinking character.


Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence

The second largest appellation, located in the most western part of the region, and noted for its limestone soils. This appellation is heralded for its rosé wines which make up over 80% of its wine production. The main grape varietals of this region are Cinsault, Grenache, Counoise, Mourvèdre and Syrah. There is a small production of white wine under this appellation, mainly utilising the grape variety Rolle also known as Vermentino. A grape varietal perfectly suited to the climate as it slowing ripens under the warm Provençal sun whilst being cooled by the Mediterranean seas influence.


Coteaux Varois en Provence

Described by many as the heart of Provence, the vineyards are situated in the centre of the limestone soils of the region. Not dissimilar to other Provençal appellations, rosé forms the largest part of the wine production at 90%, with a small amount of red and white wines making up the remainder. This appellation is at slightly higher altitude than most others and individual apt mesoclimates can be found, affording the wines character from slow ripening and retained acidity. At Pierre Hourlier Wines, we are pleased to offer a splendid range of rosé, red and white wine from the highly respected wine producer Chateau La CalisseChateau La Calisse have produced a fantastic example of a red, white and rosé wine from the Coteaux Varois appellation. All of which are admirably produced to organic standards, by the charismatic Patricia Ortelli. The Domaine’s wines are highly sought after with distinguished clients such as the French Government, the Carlton Hotel in Cannes and 3-star Michelin Restaurants. Chateau La Calisse's Coteaux Varois Rosé is a beautifully pale pink rosé made from Grenache and Syrah grape varietals, the nose offers pronounced red fruit translating onto the palate a delightful dry, strawberry enriched mouth.


Les Baux-de-Provence

A small appellation, granted AOC status in its own right for its production of red and rosé wines. Whilst white wines are produced, they fall under the Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence appellation. The vineyards extend across eight villages nestled between olive groves. The landscape is stunning, inspiring famous painters such as Van Gogh, artists and singers. This appellation is known for its wonderful red wines that often have notes of the terroir immortalised into every taste; wild rosemary, juniper and thyme.


Bandol

Bandol’s terroir of sandy, limestone soils that trap the warmth of the sun, is the optimum terroir for red wine production. Beautifully crafted white and rosé wines are also produced in this appellation but the opulent, pronounced flavoured red wines are a marvel, albeit often lesser known than the regionally sought after rosé wines. Vineyards are located within the natural amphitheatre of the hills, offering protection from the Mistral winds, warmth from its south facing location, and the maritime influences of the Mediterranean cooling the vineyards, keeping them from extreme temperature changes. At Pierre Hourlier Wines, we have worked with the fantastic producer Domaine de la Garenne to be able to offer you their superb wines. Their Domaine is situated just to the north of Bandol, near the village of La Cadiere, with their vineyards being made up of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grape varietals.

Bandol: Domaine De La Garenne Red is a sublime red wine made from mostly the Mourvedre grape which is perfectly in sync with the terroir of this appellation. Rarely in your exploration of the world of wine will you discover anything displaying the robust and complex flavours of the Mourvèdre grape as well as this example. The wine offers a deep ruby robe with delicate aromas of red fruit. On the palate, the tannins are well integrated and the pronounced flavours offer a good length on the finish.


Cassis

Cassis was the first appellation in the Provence region to be affording AOC appellation status in 1936, after the AOC regime was created. The vineyards are located between the steep hills of the Massif des Calanques and the Mediterranean Sea. Red wine and rosé is produced to an enjoyable standard in this appellation however the white wines produced here are uniquely delectable and famous world over. White wines make up the largest segment of production at 75%, predominantly made from the sumptuous grape varietals Marsanne and Clairette.

We are pleased to be able to offer a prime example of a Cassis white wine from wine producer Chateau de Fontcreuse. Produced to organic standards Cassis: Chateau De Fontcreuse Cuvee F White offers a golden dress, with a gentle nose of menthol and eucalyptus which gradually gives way to toasted almonds and honeysuckle. The mouth lingers with an aromatic harmony of structure and richness, leaving a delicate, fresh finish.


Palette

Nestled within the landscape of woodlands and olive groves lies the smallest appellation of Provence, Palette. Rosé, red and white wine production is relatively equal in this appellation, with rosé production unusually slightly less than red and white in comparison to other Provence appellations. The white, red and even rosé wines are aged for a mandatory period of time before release, and wine producers have access to a host of grape varietals, some more common and others very regionally specific and lesser known such as Panse Muscade.

Bellet

Located on the steep slopes surrounding the trendy city of Nice, wines produced in this appellation are unique in both their flavour profile and the grape varietals permitted to be used. This is the only appellation of Provence permitted to use Chardonnay within its white wines. Rolle (Vermentino) is also used along with other very regionally specific grape varietals for rosé and red wines such as Braquet and La Folle Noire. Wines of this sub region have been enjoyed by the likes of King Louis XIV and US President Thomas Jefferson.

Pierrevert

Pierrevert is one of the newer appellations of the region, granted appellation status in 1998. Situated in the most northern part of the region, the wines are unique in both production and style. Wines have a dual character of both Provence and the Rhone. Red wines are made from Syrah and Grenache in a similar style to Rhone red wines and yet they have the delicate, aromatic quality of Provencal wines. The appellation also mandates that 50% of rosé wines are produced via the Saignée method, from bleeding off red wine to make rosé wine. Thereby, rosé wines are usually richer and bolder than its Provencal counterparts. No other appellation allows for this method.

A truly sumptuous example of a Pierrevert red wine can be found in our Pierrevert: Château de Rousset Le Grand Jas Red, from the passionate producer Chateau de Rousset, also known for their delectable organic virgin olive oil (included in our range whilst stocks last). This bold, dry red wine is a quintessential expression of the low alpine character of Pierrevert offering lots of ripe dark and red fruit and complexity,whilst having a freshness that makes this perfect to enjoy on its own or with hearty lamb dishes.

Grape Varieties

Provence has a climate in terroir that can vary across the region from warming limestone in the West, to crystalline schist in the East. With the added cooling influence of the Mediterranean Sea and disease blasting winds of the Mistral, many well-known grape varietals can thrive such as Mourvèdre, along with much lesser known, regional specific grapes such as Calitour.

Red Grapes

A whole host of grape varietals are grown in Provence however the main grape varietals used for red and rosé wine production in Provence are:

· Mourvèdre
· Grenache Noir
· Syrah
· Cinsault
· Counoise
· Carignan

Cabernet Sauvignon is also used, often as a blend, along with more regionally specific lesser known grapes such as Folle Noir, Braquet, Barbaroux and Calitour.

White Grapes

Similar to red wine production in the region, a whole host of grape varietals can be utilised for white wine production however the most common are:

· Rolle (also known as Vermentino)
· Clairette
· Marsanne
· Ugni Blanc
· Grenache Blanc
· Roussanne
· Sémillon

Very common varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are also permitted in some appellations, usually appearing as a blend with more locally specific, lesser known grapes such as Terret Blanc and Pascal.

Buy Provence Wine from Hourlier Wines

At Pierre Hourlier Wines, we have worked hard to carefully select wine-makers that are unique, passionate and expert artisans in their craft. Each has a story to tell and all are united in that they are some of the most superb, original and hard-to-find wines in the Provencal region.

Provence Wine - Buying Guide - Pierre Hourlier Wines

Chateau de Rousset

Chateau de Rousset from Haute-Provence in the more recently formed appellation of Pierrevert offers wines that are very distinct in character. Wines have a dual character of both Provence and the Rhone. Bold red wines are made from Syrah and Grenache in a similar style to Rhone red wines and yet they have the delicate, aromatic quality of Provencal wines.

Chateau de Rousset offers a delectable white wine from the Pierrevert appellation. Pierrevert: Château De Rousset Provence Classique White is made from a stunningly aromatic blend of 70% Vermentino, 20% Grenache Blanc, 5% Viognier and 5% Roussanne. Tasting notes express aromas of citrus fruit, hawthorn and acacia, giving a very fresh taste and making a very suitable pairing to seafood dishes, particularly Oysters and Shellfish.

Provence Wine - Buying Guide - Pierre Hourlier Wines

Chateau de Fontcreuse

Chateau de Fontcreuse is an elegant building that was completed in 1700, across an estate of 28 hectares. The owner, Jean-François Brando's mission is to maintain the estate's heritage, and to preserve intact the aroma and fruitiness of their wines.

Pierre Hourlier Wines are proud to be able to offer the best of Chateau de Fontcreuse’s exceptional range, most of which are admirably produced to organic or biodynamic standards. Cassis: Chateau De Fontcreuse Cuvée F Rosé is a beautifully classic Provencal rose from the appellation of Cassis. It is a delicate pastel pink hued rosé bursting with fragrant notes of peach, red fruits and white flowers, whilst remaining crisp, dry and refreshingly citrus on the mouth.

As part of Chateau de Fontcreuse’s range, we also offer a big, bold red wine from the IGP Bouche-du-Rhone. Bouches-Du-Rhône: Château De Fontcreuse Mussuguet Red is an intense deep purple red wine from Mussuguet in the town of Marseille, that brims with cherry, raspberry, intense fruit and vanilla, whilst maintaining structure, balance and elegance. A superb combination of power and finesse, produced to organic standards.

Provence Wine - Buying Guide - Pierre Hourlier Wines

Domaine de la Garenne

Domaine de la Garenne is situated just to the north of Bandol, Provence, near the village of La Cadiere. The estate was originally owned by Maitre Braquety, an avid hunter of rabbits. However, his heirs did not share his passion for the likes. In 1941, they purchased the neighbouring lands and planted vines of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault. The vineyard is now run by Beatrix de Balincourt.

Whilst the appellation is noted for its rosé wines, Domaine de la Garenne’s rosé, white and red wines are exceptional. Bandol: Domaine De La Garenne Red exemplifies the Mourvèdre grape varietal with finesse and artistry offering a pronounced nose of ripe blackberry fruit, black pepper, roasted meat, translated onto a mouth of the same plus cocoa, integrated tannins and a good length on the finish.

Provence Wine - Buying Guide - Pierre Hourlier Wines
Chateau La Calisse

Chateau La Calisse have produced a fantastic example of a red, white and rosé wine from the Coteaux Varois appellation. All of which are admirably produced to organic standards, by the charismatic Patricia Ortelli. The Domaine’s wines are highly sought after with distinguished clients such as the French Government, the Carlton Hotel in Cannes and 3-star Michelin Restaurants.

Coteaux Varois: Chateau La Calisse Patricia Ortelli White is a stunning dry white wine made from Rolle and Grenache Blanc. The wine offers an attractive balance of white floral notes and citrus whilst maintaining its balance and refreshing acidity. Coteaux Varois: Chateau La Calisse Patricia Ortelli Red is a succulent medium bodied red wine offering a pronounced nose of raspberries and liquorice, with a dry palate and smooth finish.

FAQ

What Food Pairs with Provence Wine?

Provencal wines offer an organoleptic delight- they make a superb food pairing as they express the uniqueness of their terroir in every mouthful. Dotted throughout the terrain of Provence you will find beautifully aromatic shrubbery, known collectively as Garrigue or Maquis (depending on where they are growing). They are made up of collections of wild rosemary, thyme, juniper and lavender. The climate is also uniquely perfect to enable the grapes to ripen slowly and fully enabling most Provencal wines to retain a delicate freshness and acidity, even found in their robust red wines. This freshness of flavour coupled with echoes of the aromatic herbaceous terroir makes Provencal white wines a prime pairing with dishes that have resinous herb bases such as delicate chicken dishes in a rosemary and thyme jus. Provencal rosé wines, with their fresh acidity, would pair supremely with white fish in a butter base sauce, fresh shellfish such as oysters or lobster or even tuna fish cakes served with summer salad. Whilst Provencal red wines with their aromatic, lavender and rosemary notes, would make a delicious pairing with hearty lamb and rosemary dishes.

Do you Sell Provence Rosè Wine?

At Pierre Hourlier Wines, we have an exceptional range of Provencal rosé wines that truly reflect the region’s beauty and passion, that has inspired artists throughout history, and is uniquely expressed by the region's artisan wine producers.

Our wine producers have been carefully sought by us, dealing directly with the vineyards, and we have tasted, sourced and brought the wines to you, to be purchased either directly from our store or from our website. Should you have any queries on picking a Provencal rosé wine- from a regionally classic styled delicate, pale pink rosé, to a bold, fuller rosé from a Provencal sub region, please feel free to contact us and we would be delighted to share our expertise with you.

A great start to an exploration of Provence rosé wine can be found in the classically elegant, highly sought after Coteaux Varois: Château La Calisse Rosé. This is a beautifully pale pink rosé made from Grenache and Syrah grape varietals. The nose offers pronounced red fruit, translating onto the palate a delightful dry, strawberry enriched mouth.

We also have some beautiful lesser known Provençal rosé wines from IGP appellations which are known for using grape varieties that divert from the mandated grape varieties of AOC appellations, such as from IGP Alpes de Haute Provence and IGP Bouches-du-Rhône. These wines are a must to try for wine lovers wishing to truly explore by taste the unique AOC and IGP appellations of the Provençal region.

We are pleased to be able to bring to our buyers, from Provencal wine producer Chateau de Rousset, a tremendous IGP Alpes de Haute Provence appellation wine. Their playfully fun, intensely fruity rosé wine: Alpes De Haute Provence: Château De Rousset Les Bambines made from a blend of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Vermentino, offers notes of candied strawberries, delicate citrus notes and a well-balanced refreshing acidity.

Our Provencal wine producer, Chateau de Fontcreuse has produced a remarkable rosé wine, produced to biodynamic standards, that echoes the style of Provencal rosé, utilising a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Caladoc grape varietals. Méditerranée: Chateau De Fontcreuse Rose Bio offers citrus notes on the nose, blending fruit and white blossom. This lovely rosé is both silky and well balanced.

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