France: Provence

Bandol and Cassis

Marseille's local fine wines
By Liz Berry MW and Elizabeth Gabay MW

This Guide was last updated on 24 April 2011
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Main appellations

Bandol

The Bandol vineyards are located on terraces in the villages surrounding Bandol - La Cadière d’Azur, Saint-Cyr-sur-mer, Le Castellet, Le Beausset, Evenos, Ollioules and Sanary.All three colours are made here: red, white and rosé. However, it is renowned for the red, one of the best in Provence, made from a blend including a minimum of 50% Mourvèdre, which ripens well here, with Grenache, Cinsault, and limited amounts of Syrah and Carignan. The reds have to spend at least 18 months in oak, traditionally large foudres, but the use of smaller oak casks is common now. The rosés use mainly Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault in the blend, and are generally amongst France’s best rosés. Whites, consumed mainly in the local restaurants, are blends made from Bourboulenc, Clairette and Ugni Blanc with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc.

Cassis

Cassis is known as an AC for dry white wines and to some extent rosé though some fruity reds are also made. The small area of vineyards is perched on an amphitheatre of terraces (known locally as restanques) that overlook the port. The dry, full-bodied whites are blends using mainly Marsanne and Clairette, with a little Ugni Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The reds and rosés are made from Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault.

Côtes de Provence

A total of 13 different grape varieties are allowed for this AC, which is the largest in Provence and has a great variation in vineyard sites. There is a patch of vineyards between Cassis and Bandol and then the vineyards extend along the Mediterranean coast from Toulon to Saint Tropez, where it can be particularly windy, and continue to just east of Saint Raphael. Some of the vineyards are also found scattered southeast of Aix, whilst the main part of the AC stretches inland from the coast, into the valleys of the Massif des Maures. Rosés, total between more than 80% of production, reds account for around 15% and there is a little white too.

IGP (Vin de Pays)

There are a number of IGP (until 2010 vintag called Vins de Pays) designations that can be used by producers within this micro-region. The most commonly used are the departmental one of IGP des Bouches du Rhône. Rules are more flexible than for AC wines, so many wines are from a single grape variety that would not be permitted under the AC rules. Quality and style varies tremendously.

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