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 grape varieties


This late ripener thrives well in the warm, sunny climate of Bandol, south of this micro-region, but elsewhere it can add a hint of greenness to the blends. The older the vines, the more successful this wine is. In good years it provides extra structure and fruit concentration in blends with Grenache and Cinsault.

Adds longevity to typical Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre blends, and is occasionally also partnered with Cabernet Sauvignon. In AC Côtes de Provence, rules have been laid in place for a 60% minimum of Syrah in the blendfrom 2000, 70% minimum from 2005 and 80% from 2015.

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

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.

Indigenous, dark-berried variety that adds elegance and herby aromas to rosés in particular. However, this variety is an early ripener and prone to problems if there are early spring frosts. As a result it is more successful along the coast and in warmer sites.

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. Old vines however do produce some rich, intense wines which are well worth looking out for. Rules in AC Côtes de Provence from 2008 stipulate a 40% maximum in the blend – so look out for good Carignan as Vin de Pays.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Sometimes used in blends, providing colour, structure and aroma. Côtes de Provence regulations from 2008 stipulate a 30% maximum.


This variety, identical to the Vermentino of Corsica, is used particularly for aromatic whites. It is is increasingly being used as the dominant component in quality wines with sometimes a small percentage of Sémillon, Chardonnay or Ugni Blanc. Its structure, which often comes from a second less developed grape bunch grown next to the main fully ripened bunch, provides extra acidity.

Ugni Blanc
An Italian variety (Trebbiano) originally imported and planted by the papal court in Avignon. Used in white wine blends to provide an acidic edge.

Traditional variety that thrives on dry soils. Tends to result in flabby wines, and therefore often blended often with Ugni Blanc to provide a perfumed fruit character.

Ancient white variety, cultivated throughout southern France , thought to have originated from Greece. Blends well with Grenache Blanc. Used rarely in Central Provence.

More commonly associated with Roussanne in the Rhône. Its good productivity has increased its popularity. Modern wine making techniques have ironed out its tendency to produce flabby wines. Useful blending ingredient especially with Rolle. Used rarely in Central Provence.

Adds texture, body and richness to blends.

Growing in popularity as part of a blend or as a Vin de Pays varietal wines.

Frequently blended with Rolle, especially in the white wines of Bellet (in the Coastal Provence micro-region).

Used in small amounts in a blend to give perfume and increasingly in sweet wines.

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