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 grape varieties


This late ripener thrives best in warm, sunny vineyards of Bandol where it is a very important component of reds and rosés. Indeed Bandol is the only appellation which imposes inclusion of a majority of this variety, with a minimum of 50% by law, and an average of 70% to 90% in many domaines. It produces well-structured wines with good intense fruit. It can be used in other Provence blends and provides structure to Grenache and Cinsault, but apart from in very hot years, may add a hint of greenness outside Bandol. The locals reckon that Mourvèdre "needs to be in sight of the sea" to ripen fully, and the majority of Bandol vineyards are indeed overlooking the sea from various heights on the south facing slopes.

Widely planted variety used in red wine blends and also rosés. Adds depth, sweetness and richness.

Adds life expectancy to typical Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre blends, and is increasingly partnered with Cabernet Sauvignon.

A high yielding variety that is resistant to drought. Results in light soft reds and is particularly suitable in rosé blends since it adds freshness, alcohol and fruity aromas.

Ancient Mediterranean variety that is robust and productive resulting in wines with high acidity, tannins and colour that are best blended with Grenache and Cinsault. Considerable amounts of Carignan have been ripped up as a solution to the general wine surplus problem.


More commonly associated with Roussanne in the Rhône. Its good productivity has increased its popularity and it is especially important in Cassis. Modern wine making techniques have ironed out its tendency to produce flabby wines. Useful blending ingredient.

Traditional variety that thrives on dry soils and is used widely in Cassis and Bandol. May result in flabby wines, and therefore often blended often with more acidic varieties.

Ugni Blanc
An Italian variety (Trebbiano) originally imported and planted by the papal court in Avignon. Used extensively in white wine blends.

Ancient white variety, cultivated throughout southern France, thought to have originated from Greece. Gives aroma and perfume to the blend.

Sauvignon Blanc
Small amounts of this classic, high acid variety may be used in both Cassis and white Bandol.

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