Provence is France’s southern escape, running from the Mediterranean coast to the foothills of the Alps, from Aix-en-Provence to Nice’s famed Riviera. It’s where the days are baked in sunshine and stretch long into the dusky evenings, the food is light and fresh, the wine is tints of blush, coral and fuchsia and all roads lead towards the glamorise Riviera sands.
Growing wine is in Provence’s blood, with vineyards first digging their roots into the terroir over 26 centuries ago. Today it is the spiritual homeland of rosé, producing a staggering 39% of AOP rosé wines from France and 5.6% of the world’s rosé wines.
Swimming in Rosé
A combination of climate, terroir and the grapes native to Provence have meant that the area has become dominated with the pink wine. Up to 88% of production here is rosé.
Typically these aromatic light pink wines have a vibrant and refreshing taste. As much a part of life here as the sea and brightly coloured fishing boats in Bandol harbour, rosé naturally pairs with the region’s classic cuisine including ratatouille, bouillabaisse and seasoned fish.
“Its pink wines are an easily accessible totem of the Provençal good life—pure Mediterranean idyll in a bottle,” writes Jon Bonné in Punch.
Provence terroir derives its unique flavour from a combination of factors, one of them being the brilliant Mediterranean sunshine. Summers in this part of the world are lusciously hot and dry, however the land is fairly mountainous meaning there’s a lot of variation. Of course it’s not all warmth and bright light, as bucket loads of rain plummet from the sky in violent storms during the spring and autumn.
Then you have the soil, which in Provence's winegrowing regions are poor yet well drained – perfect for Mediterranean plants such as the grape vine, which actually flourishes when it suffers. The mountains in Provence mean the area is a mosaic of terroirs, each with its own geological makeup and climate.
Under the Côtes de Provence appellation, the largest in Provence, you have five major areas which include three terroir denominations with more specialized wine types: Sainte-Victoire, Fréjus, La Londe and Pierrefeu. Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence appellation is located in the western section of Provence's limestone lands while Coteaux Varois en Provence is known for its peaks - from 600 to more than 1,000 meters - in the Sainte-Baume chain.
Rosé is made from red grapes, the skins giving the beautiful blush colours we all adore in summer. It simply depends on the duration and temperature of the contact between the colourless grape juice and the skins for the depth of pink the wine will display. Rosé wines are incredibly delicate and difficult to make as the colour, flavours, elegance and aromas are all passed onto the wine in a matter of a few precious hours. Provence rosé is generally light and pale.
Cinsault is one of Provence’s native grapes which can be eaten as fruit as well as used to make rosé, providing freshness, fruitiness and subtlety to wines. The area also favours Tibouren, which while not a native grape, is brilliantly subtle and delicate, giving the region's rosés an elegant aroma and a full bouquet of fragrances.
Other types commonly found in Provence include Syrah, creating dense and colourful wines, Grenache, giving wines greater body, fullness and intensity, Mourvèdre, known for its character and subtle tannins, Carignan, used as excellent base for assemblages, and finally, yet rarer, is Cabernet Savignon, offering well-structured tannins which are powerful yet not aggressive.
Vins de Provence Beach Bar at London Wine Week
Popping-up between Monday 23rd May till Saturday 28th May for LWW, Vins de Provence Beach Bar will be serving a selection of 12 deliciously dry, fruity & refreshing rosé wines from the Provence region.
The Beach Bar will showcase the quality and diversity of Provence wines from the three main appellations: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence. As well as serving a number of Provence Wines by the glass, four exclusively designed flights of Provence rosé (3 x 75ml) will also be available at just £5 for LWW wristband wearers. Enjoy a crisp glass of rosé and chat to the knowledgeable team for a more in depth knowledge of flavour profiles and special techniques used in the region. We'll see you at the beach.