A WALK IN PROVENCE
In the nation that’s most infatuated with our favorite wine, there’s the most famous region for the production of rosé. Decorated in lavender, thyme, mint, and rosemary, we find ourselves in Provence.
“Let’s cut the poetry- want to tell us what’s going on in France?”
Ah yes, a very good interruption indeed. We could wax poetic about Provence forever, but let’s get straight to the point.
In Provence, the production of rosé is an entire lifestyle. This lifestyle was born from Provence’s climate, terroir, and grape variety. It’s the only region in the world where a good 89% of the vineyard landscape is dedicated to rosé. It’s crazy.
“So what does that mean?”
It means that almost every grape grown in Provence is destined to be our rosè! Not red wine, not white. Pink.
The Greeks colonized this region around 600 AC, and this means that Provence may have been one of the oldest French wine territories to exist.
Then, the Romans, who were clamoring for wine, did nothing but spread and popularize this wine, rendering it even more famous. As Romans tend to have this claimant effect, the name “Provence” comes from the latin for “our province”.
The climate is mediterranean- and thanks to the winds from the Northwest, called Mistral, the vineyards are swept with a pleasant breeze that enhances the good vibes. Actually, you might be interested to know that this breeze is pretty fundamental. It reduces the amount of humidity, creating a dryer climate which helps to prevent the spread of diseases. That means that in this climate, it’s easier to produce organic wine, since the vineyards won’t need to utilize pesticides to keep the grapes safe!!
*Fun fact: Rosé can be made in various ways, but in this particular region, there are only two methods: Brief maceration, and direct pressing.
In Provence, there are 9 AOC’s (Appelation Originee Controlée, which means “designations of origin”), in which rosé production is particularly famous.
“What does ‘designation of origin’ really mean?”
Put simply, it’s just a denomination. It’s a specific area, delineated by borders, where following certain rules of production means a wine can represent the region.
There are some areas that are really well-suited to wine production. In these territories, there are very strong bonds between the wine, the climate, the tradition, and the history… so to speak, the terroir. To make sure that these bonds remain ever-present, they’ve been worked into the regulations that winemakers have to follow through the entire production process (e.g. how much grape to grow per hectare, what type of grape, and which method of wine production is used). Just following these regulations, the producer can obtain a certain applique to put on their bottles, guaranteeing that they were produced traditionally, within the region, and following qualitative standards. This certification is defined as AOC.
“Therefore, if I produce a bottle of wine outside of the AOC zone, even if I’m following all the regulations, I can’t get the denomination even in etiquette??”
Exactly! Well done! To get an AOC certification, the wine has to be produced in the specific AOC zone.
“Does this happen in Italy too?”
I think you’ve got it!
Yes, absolutely. In Italy we have the DOC and DOCG. Similar stuff.
Let’s cut back to Provence quickly, where there are 9 denominations. The three most famous ones for rosé are:
AOC Cotes de Provence,
AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
AOC Coteaux Varois-en-Provence
Cotes de Provence
The most famous appellation is the Cotes de Provence, which actually contains four subzones.
A bit of a mess, right? I agree, there’s some pretty obvious difficulty in quickly seeing the differences in zones. However, the system has its benefits, like being able to immediately determine the terroir, method of production, grape, etc.
“Wait… go back to the subzones.”
The subzones are smaller areas, within each AOC, in which the ties to the region are even more defined. It’s like a Russian doll system!
The most utilized grapes in the AOC region of Cotes de Provence are Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvédre.
The rosé that’s produced often ends up being a blend of all of these grapes.
“What can be expected from a wine like that?”
These wines are aromatic, fresh, and with a good alcohol content. Citrus, exotic fruits, sometimes red fruits.
In Cotes de Provence, they produce two of the most famous rosés in the world. What are they? You might know them by now! (Hint: one of them is produced by a Hollywood ex-couple…)
Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence is the second most productive appellation for rosé wine in Provence, and it doesn’t have any subzones. The grapes produced here are Cinsault, Grenache, Conouise, Mourvèdre, and Syrah.
The color is usually pale, not very intense. The wines are often very floral and fruity. The mouthfeel is very fresh, with a soft consistency.
Coteaux Varois de Provence
Coteaux Varois de Provence is often called “the heart of Provence,” and this AOC also contains no subzones. The grapes here are Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah.
Here, the wines turn out very balanced and aromatic. The color is often more intense than other rosés, with notes of fresh fruit.
So, are you guys all packing your bags? Checking out tickets to the most famous region for the production of rosé? We’ll see you there