One of France’s underrated regions that has been gaining popularity recently, Provence is one of the oldest wine producing regions in France, with about 2,600 years of winemaking history. One of the only regions to mainly focus on rose, 88% of Provence’s wine production is made up of rose wines. With how vast Provence is, it has a diverse landscape of mountain ranges, sheltered valleys, and gentle slopes. While the Mediterranean moderates the temperature, Provence is filled with warm, sunny days, cool evenings, and a smattering of rain due to the mistral winds that keep the skies clear and vineyards pest free.
Provence is made up of nine AOCs, which is a specific subregion that is defined by many factors like the origin, quality, style, and climate of where the grapes are grown. Provence’s largest AOC is Côtes de Provence, which has about 20,000 hectares, and makes up about 75% of wine produced in Provence, of which about 90% of the wines are rose. Because of how vast Côtes de Provence is, there are a variety of influences that affect the grapes like climate, altitude, soils, and rain, which can lead to different harvest times and tasting notes. Some of the main varietals found in Côtes de Provence are Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Caladoc, Clairette, Rolle (also known as Vermentino), and Semillon.
Bandol, one of Provence’s most popular AOCs, is another region that suffered at the hands of phylloxera. During replanting, Mourvedre became Bandol’s main grape as it could thrive in the sandy marls and limestone soils. Protected by the north winds due to mountain ranges, Bandol is pretty sheltered with warm growing conditions. Known for their rich, intense red wines, Bandol requires all red wines to be made up of at least 50% Mourvedre, which brings spicy and powerful flavors to their wines. They also produce amazing white wines that tend to be Clairette based blended with either Ugni Blanc or Bourboulenc. Meanwhile, their roses are pretty distinctive from other French roses, with spicy and earthy characteristics. Other varietals that can be found in Bandol are Syrah, Marsanne, and Sauvignon Blanc.