With a winemaking history stretching back a few thousand years, Provence is a wine region that automatically commands respect.
A unique aspect of Provence is its propensity for rosé. While many French wine regions lean toward still reds and sparkling whites, Provence’s nine appellations all retain a soft spot for blushing wines.
Even the most cursory glance at the wine rack will yield labels such as Côtes de Provence AOC and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. Just how did this French wine region earn its powerful reputation?
Below we’ll dive into the region’s wine history, their leading wineries, and several wines you can try. All to help deepen appreciation for the wines of Provence.
A Snapshot of Provence, France
One of the first words that come to mind when thinking of Provence is beautiful. This picturesque region is located in southeastern France, immediately distinguishable for its rollicking lavender fields and snow-capped alps.
Provence’s fascinating details extended well before winemaking techniques reached their shores. According to historians, Provence holds some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in the world.
This area of the country has experienced early human settlements dating back to the Paleolithic period, which also happened to have a few ice ages. When it comes to climate and terroir, Provence is legendarily dynamic.
Greek settlers would introduce winemaking through trade, then through settlements. The 1400s saw Provence slowly, but surely making a name for itself in the field of wine production, starting with reds and gradually shifting to whites.
Today Provence has carved out a significant niche as a primary producer of rosé, a wine style that many winemakers today rarely specialize in.
What Wines is Provence Known For?
When it comes to wine styles, Provence wines are known for spanning the length of dry and semi-sweet rosés. When it comes to grape varieties, Provence usually grows the following:
What is Côtes de Provence Wine?
Côtes de Provence wine is labeled as such due to its origin: Côtes de Provence. This wine region is designated as such by the government through the AOC label (short for Appellation de’Origin Contrôlée).
What Does the AOC Regulate?
AOCs are important in the wine world for how they protect the character of a given area.
Climate, terroir, soil, winemaking techniques, and wine types are all factors taken into consideration when granting the AOC label.
Winemakers are required by law to only plant certain grapes or use certain cultivation techniques within a given area to protect their heritage.
The Wine Appellations of Provence, France
Provence holds the distinction of nine appellations. For brevity’s sake, we’ll take a look at a few so you can enjoy your next wine purchase to the fullest.
Côtes de Provence
Well known as the largest wine region in Provence, Côtes de Provence is a label that automatically brings to mind quality. This region produces the majority of wine in Provence.
Most of the wines produced here are rosé, usually made from Mourvèdre and Syrah grapes. Due to Côtes de Provence’s size, there are four subregions you’ll also find while browsing wine:
- La Londe
Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
Following close behind Côtes de Provence is the nearly as large Coteaux d’Aix en Provence. Rosé made here is known for being round, fresh, and overflowing with florals.
To contrast the massive Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, we have the tiny region of Palette. With just a handful of vineyards to its name, Palette is favored for its propensity for aged rosés and whites.
Unlike the majority of Provence, Bandol is unique in that this region prefers to create red and white wines. You’ll still find plenty of rosés, of course.
Finely aged Clairette and Mourvèdre are the wines of choice here.
Contrary to popular belief, Côtes de Provence is not the first AOC to be created in Provence. This distinction belongs to Cassis, nestled alongside the coast to enjoy both salty winds and limestone soils.
White wines bloom in Mediterranean climates, so expect to see Clairette, Marsanne, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Wineries of Provence
With over five hundred wineries to choose from, getting started in Provence is a little daunting.
We have just the thing. Below are a few wineries that represent Provence’s propensity for rosé and passion for French winemaking.
There’s no better way to start off a deep dive into the wines of Provence than with Chateau D’Esclans. This winery is so dedicated to the art of rosé that they dubbed its portfolio the beginning of the Rosé Renaissance.
With such a specialized mindset, you know you’re going to get some truly spectacular vintages. While Chateau D’Esclans hasn’t been around as long as other wineries, first getting their start in 2006, the owners have a deep appreciation for traditional French vinification.
This rosé exclusive portfolio stresses the need to harvest grapes at night to preserve their temperature.
Each rosé is crafted with a different result in mind. Whether you want easy-drinking wine or a refined vintage for a special occasion, Chateau D’Esclans has you covered.
Château Saint Roux
Do you want a winery that also doubles as a fantastic tourist experience? Château Saint Roux is a traditional farm dating back to the 15th century, recently renovated to provide the most authentic French experience to visitors and residents alike.
Alongside hotel stays and tours, Château Saint Roux maintains a vineyard boasting a blend of rosé, red, and white wines. Their portfolio has been granted the distinction of Côtes de Provence and IGP.
Similar to AOC, IGP is a short for Indication Géographique Protégée. This designation is for high-quality wines that meet strict standards for recordkeeping, yields, and approved grapes.
Château la Verrerie
Do you prefer to buy organic Provence wines? Château la Verrerie is a Provence-based winery that devotes itself to organic farming and traditional vinification methods.
Wine tourism is incredibly important to this business, as this function allows visitors and residents to appreciate the history behind French winemaking. Their tours show off the brilliantly green expanse of the old estate, allowing buyers to experience growing vines and aged wine cellars.
Château la Verrerie’s wine portfolio is incredibly expansive, boasting enough wine to keep you interested for months. Grenache, Viognier, and Syrah are a handful of indigenous French grapes for you to enjoy here. With a balanced display of reds, whites, and rosés, wine drinkers of all stripes will be satisfied.
Best Wines of Provence, France
It’s no mystery that this list is going to focus on quality French rosés. Nonetheless, we’ve sprinkled a few whites and reds to ensure all palates will walk away happy!
Château Roubine Lion et Dragon Rosé 2020
When’s the last time you had an oak-aged rosé? This rare vintage adds partial oak aging to a blend of French wine grapes to create a wonderfully unique result. ‘
The dominant flavors here run the gamut of tart red fruit and floral hints, with a surprisingly long finish due in no small part to the oak aging process. This winery suggests pairing the wine with fish or vegetables, which we second!
Domaine de la Bégude Rosé 2020
Here’s another rosé with an unusual twist: the addition of lees. This term is short for leftover yeast particles, and dead yeasts that remain after the fermentation process has been completed.
Unlike the majority of berry and melon-styled rosé, this bottle leans toward brambly fruits and subtle spiced notes. We highly recommend chilling this wine and pairing it with a medley of grilled vegetables.
Pigeonnier Rosé 2021 Rosé AOP Côtes-de-Provence
Boasting no less than five French red grapes, this bottle is both a rosé and a blend all wrapped into one. Its gorgeous salmon hue is your first hint that this wine will be a luscious experience.
Airy and fresh, this wine works well as an aperitif. Consider trying this bottle as a sipping wine before digging into a dinner of chicken, potatoes, or vegetables.
Chateau D’Esclans Rock Angel Rosé 2018
Rosé is not often granted the title of ‘complex’ like its fully red cousins. Chateau D’Esclans is explicit about redefining what you know about rosé, whether it’s layered flavors or a stunning aroma.
The Rock Angel Rosé is an exemplary display, more full-bodied than the average bottle. The dominant flavors of peaches, vanilla, and roses will make this a stunning drink alone or with charcuterie.
Grand Deffand Rouge 2019
Let’s take a look at what the Provence region has to offer in terms of still reds. This bottle is predominantly Syrah with a dash of Grenache, romantically blended to give you the best of both worlds.
Deep, dark fruit dominates here, with a faintly earthy, woody aftertaste that will sing when paired with a savory dish.
Grand Deffand Blanc 2020
Now for white wine! This delicious white blend will appeal to fans of savory, full-bodied white wines like Chardonnay or Viognier.
This bottle is intensely full-bodied and round, almost buttery in its mouthfeel despite a more floral set of flavor notes. The Grand Deffand Blanc 2020 practically begs for a fish or cheese platter.
Le Pont Bandol
Hearkening from the Bandol region of Provence, this still red wine is a tasty addition to a casual dinner or a planned gathering. Thanks to its balanced flavors and rich aroma, wine drinkers of many shapes and sizes will have a great time.
Low tannins and a medium body make this wine approachable, though far from mild. The aroma is earthy and ripe, with a dominant flavor profile of plum and spices.
Tips For Enhancing Your Rosé
A common misconception about wine is that the bottles must be aged, expensive, and decanted to be worth drinking. As it stands, improving your wine’s quality depends on the grape and your unique tastes.
Try these tips on for size before sipping your rosé.
Tip #1: Consider Chilling Your Rosé For Fifteen or Twenty Minutes
Rosé tends to be fruit-forward, leaning toward a medley of flavors such as strawberry, peaches, melons, lemons, and nectarines. Colder temperatures bring out your wine’s acidity, making your glass taste crisp and fresh.
Before drinking, stick your rosé in the fridge for fifteen or twenty minutes, or set it in a bucket of ice if you’re outside.
Tip #2: No Need For Decanting
The function of decanting is to help your wine breathe, as well as to separate excess sediment leftover from the winemaking process.
Due to rosé having a simpler makeup, it doesn’t need to decant or breathe as much as still reds. Just pop open your bottle and enjoy!
Why You Should Try Wines of Provence, France
Rosé fans will be in heaven with wines of Provence. This region of France remains committed to crafting the most exemplary and subtle blushing wines in the world.
Many of the best-known wine labels today originate from Provence, such as the esteemed Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d’Aix en Provence.
This region is further divided into several subregions with a firm grasp of traditional French vinification and cultivation techniques. Although blushing wines dominate here, Provence is still home to impressive red and white grape varieties.
When you try wines of Provence, you’ll be introduced to a wealth of aromas, mouthfeels, and flavors you never knew possible.