France: Provence

Inland Provence

Côtes de Provence and Coteaux Varois Wines from the Hillsides
By Elizabeth Gabay MW

This Guide was last updated on 12 February 2010
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Main appellations

Côtes de Provence

More than 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 en Provence, whilst the main part of the AC stretches inland from the coast, into the valleys of the Massif des Maures and further north along the river plains, with only one AC vineyard in the Alpes Maritimes along the Var river. Rosés total around 80% of production, reds account for about 15% and there is a little white too.

Coteaux Varois

This large appellation with 1,600ha in the Var department, stretches from around Brignoles over a limestone area to the foothills of Montagne Sainte Baume. Mainly rosé wines are produced with some reds and whites. The rosés are predominantly made from a Grenache-Cinsault blend, and reds are blends using mainly Grenache, Syrah (up to 80%), Cinsault and Carignan with a very little Cabernet Sauvignon. The quality of the reds is variable partly because altitude causes ripening problems for certain grape varieties such as Mourvèdre. The whites are blends of Rolle, Sémillon, Ugni Blanc, Clairette and Grenche Blanc although better quality producers are increasingly making almost 100% varietal whites.

IGP (Vin de Pays)

There are a number of IGP (formerly Vins de Pays) designations that can be used by producers within this micro-region. The most commonly used are the departmental ones of IGP du Var and IGP des Alpes Maritimes (centred around Vence, Saint Jeannet and Tourettes sur Loup). 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.

Côtes de Provence – Sainte Victoire

Based in the west of the region around the base of Mont Sainte Victoire itself. The white limestone of the mountain, made famous in the paintings of Cézanne, provide a good acidity and freshness to the local wines, and those vineyards at a higher altitude up the slopes of the mountain have even greater freshness.

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