The French Mediterranean coast is undoubtedly suitable for premium wine production. Still, the region is dominated by appellations and producers dedicated to Provence’s delectable rosé.
Bouches-du-Rhone IGP opens the possibility for wine makers to experiment with distinct wine styles; they label some of Provence’s best red and white wine as Bouches-du-Rhone.
Bouches-du-Rhone covers the department of the same name, between the Mediterranean coast, the Rhone River and the delineating Durance river to the north. This is the heart of Provence; the department is home to the prestigious rosé appellations, Coteaux Aix-en-Provence and Les Baux de Provence.
Here, winemaking goes back for 2,600 years to some of the first grapes arriving in France at the hands of Phoenician traders. The port of Marseille (Massalia) was one of the most significant ports in the Mediterranean Sea.
The sun-drenched vineyards freshened by the warm Mediterranean breeze over poor, free-draining soils are an authentic playground for reputable winemakers to make astounding wine of world class quality.
The French wine law allows for over one hundred grape varieties for Bouches-du-Rhone, which become paint in the wine producers’ colour palette. For Bouches-du-Rhone, expect the unexpected. The only thing all wines from the region have in common is their superb quality.
Bouches-du-Rhone falls on the Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) quality tier. This means the production rules are less strict compared to the highly regulated AOP level. The designation was created in 1968 with the name Vin de Pays des Bouches-du-Rhône, and it’s reserved for sparkling, red, white and rosé wine styles.
Producers must make white wines with white grapes, red wines with red grapes, and both styles can be made with grape blends or bottled as mono-varietal wines. Producers can make rosé with red grapes or the mixture of red and white grapes for what it’s called a rosé d’assemblage. .
To make the region’s rare but increasingly popular sparkling wine, producers use the traditional Champagne method or the quicker and more inexpressive ‘Cuvee close’ tank method.
Today, Bouches-du-Rhone produces around 180.000 hl of wine every year. There are 18 cooperatives and 88 family-owned estates. 90% of the wine produced is red, with white wine making the rest. And although most wine is made in a young, fruit-forward, easy-to-drink style, some reds are memorable and suitable for ageing.
Although producers can make a wide variety of styles with a limitless list of grape varieties, Bouches-du-Rhone is becoming the source for red wine in Provence.
Grape Varieties and Blends
The most important grape varieties in Bouches-du-Rhone are Grenache, Syrah, Caladoc, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The first four are local and traditional in the area, while growers plant Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to satisfy the International varietals’ high demand.
Blends play a significant role in the region, from traditional combinations of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, to exclusive blends like Syrah-Caladoc, a prized combination that’s becoming Bouches-du-Rhone signature style.
For white wine, Chardonnay has a leading role in the sunny wine making region. Still, blends with traditional southern grapes, including Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc and Picpoul, are popular as well.
It comes without saying this is just the tip of the iceberg. The IGP region allows for the production of wine with an immense range of varietals. Some of the best known are, Alicante Bouschet, Aligoté, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Carmenere, Colombard, Chenin, Macabeu, Muscadelle, Nielluccio, Tannat, Tibouren and even Tempranillo!
Buy Bouches-du-Rhone Wines from Hourlier Wines
We at Hourlier Wines are no strangers to delicious Provencal wine, and have found a selection of prodigious winemakers from over one hundred manufacturers in Bouches-du-Rhone, who are taking the region to the next level.
Amongst the IGP’s most respected producers, you’ll find Chateau de Fontcreuse. With an impressive estate going back to the 1700s, this producer grows grapes in 28 hectares in the Bouches-du-Rhone region. Owner Jean-François Brando champions local grapes, including the rare and prized Caladoc. These are some extraordinary wines from the highly regarded producers; premium examples of wine to try from Bouches-du-Rhone.
Bouches-du-Rhone: Chateau de Fontcreuse Mussuguet Red
The clay-limestone soil over cretaceous rocks around the city of Marseille give Syrah and Caladoc grapes all they need to ripen under the Mediterranean sun. This is a Syrah 75% Caladoc 25% blend and shows an intense bouquet of cherries, raspberries and hints of spices over an elegant and balanced palate infused with the sweet vanilla scents from extended ageing in French oak barriques. This organically grown red wine is ideal for pairing with roasted lamb or grilled red meat.
Bouches-du-Rhone: Chateau de Fontcreuse Pure Intense
With an excellent ageing potential, Chateau de Fontcreuse’s Pure Intense red wine is made by blending 75% Syrah with 25% Caladoc, grown organically in Provence’s clay-limestone soils. The wine is vinified traditionally before spending time in French oak barrels to reward your senses with strawberries, cranberries and warm spices over a structured, tannic palate that extends long into the aftertaste. Pair with lamb or pork roast.
Where does Bouches-du-Rhone wine originate?
Bouches-du-Rhone is produced in the department of the same name in the Provence wine region close to Marseille. Here, the sun shines all year while the gentle Mediterranean breeze freshens the ancient vineyards.
What does Bouches-du-Rhone wine taste like?
Wine in the region is ripe, fruit-forward, lush and often shows a pleasing alcoholic warmth and a robust mouthfeel. Bouches-du-Rhone can be red, white, sparkling or rose. Still, most of it is red, and it’s made with local varieties, including Syrah, Grenache and Caladoc. Cabernet and Merlot are used, too.
Which food groups pair well with Bouches-du-Rhone wine?
Red Bouches-du-Rhone is ideal for pairing with game, beef and pork, especially when grilled or roasted. Grilled vegetables and starchy sides complement the meal to perfection. These red wines are often age-worthy and will evolve with cellaring.