Picturesque villages, sunny weather, Mediterranean cuisine, endless lavender fields… There are countless reasons to fall in love with Provence. But aside from its colourful countryside and glamorous Côte d’Azur, any wine lover will tell you that this Southeastern region is the benchmark par excellence for rosé wine. But why is Provence rosé so famous?
In this article, we’ll take a look back at Provence’s millennia of experience producing rosé wine, discover what makes the terroir perfectly suited to viticulture, explore typical tasting notes, and round it off with some mouthwatering pairing suggestions.
Provence Rosé Production Goes Back Millennia
Provence’s winemaking history dates all the way back to around 600 BC when the Ancient Greeks founded Marseille. Ancient Greek wine would have been much closer in appearance to today’s rosé wines than red, as modern maceration techniques which produce darker, more tannic red wines, were not widely practised in ancient winemaking. This makes Provence one of the oldest established vineyard regions in France specialising in rosé wines.
Following the Greeks’ departure, the Romans continued to make wine here, as well as giving Provence its name, “Provincia Nostra”, meaning “our province”. Between the 5th and 12th Century, the Monks became the caretakers of the vineyards. This funded local monasteries, as well as ensuring we can continue to enjoy traditional Provence rosé today.
Centuries later, France’s oldest wine region now dedicates over two-thirds of its viticulture to rosé wine. In 2019 that translated to a whopping 153 million bottles of rosé wine, making Provence the number one rosé-producing region in France.
The Perfect Terroir for a Rosé Powerhouse
Aside from its wine, Provence is known for its diverse landscapes. From the Southern Alps to sloping hills, mountains, gorges, coastline, pine forests and lavender fields, the terroir is incredibly varied.
The Côtes de Provence AOC is the largest appellation of the Provence wine region and its terroir is particularly conducive to winemaking. Côtes de Provence consists of two main geographical areas: one with calcareous earth containing limestone and clay and the other with crystalline rocks, resulting in a wide variety of rosé wines.
Provence is subject to several winds, the most famous being the powerful Mistral which carries cool, dry air down from the Alps, preventing excess humidity which can cause grape rot. The wind, combined with year-round sunshine, a hot Mediterranean climate, and little rain, makes Provence a natural fit for organic and sustainable viticulture.
And because of the terroir’s size and variety, there is not one but several types of Côtes de Provence, each with their unique personality.
Côtes de Provence – Dry, Light and Incredibly Versatile
The region’s most widespread appellation, Côtes de Provence, is made predominantly from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan, Rolle and the quintessentially Provençal red grape, Tibouren. Thanks to this large variety of grapes, you can taste anything from strong fruit characteristics to citrus, floral, mineral and even spicy notes. Provence rosés have lots of bite, while also offering plenty of freshness and acidity. This makes them extremely refreshing.
What makes Provence rosé instantly recognizable from other rosé wines is its lighter colour – a very pale, even orange-tinted pink. Although it’s lower in tannins and has subtler flavours than red wine, it certainly doesn’t lack in complexity. And similarly to Champagne, a Provençal rosé is synonymous with quality.
While rosé used to have a reputation for being sickly sweet, Provence rosés are dry, light, and incredibly versatile. With an average alcohol content of 12%, a Provence rosé is a fresh, easy-drinking wine, perfect for relaxed and social occasions.
Côtes de Provence can be paired with a wide variety of food, including seafood, salads, and cheese – the perfect accompaniment to a light meal or afternoon picnic with friends. Why not check out our unbeatable rosé wine pairings or recipe for salmon and avocado tartare? It’s the perfect match for a dry and light rosé.
The Rise of Rosé
While rosé has traditionally been considered a summer drink, it’s increasingly consumed year-round, especially by younger and more adventurous consumers. No doubt this is in part due to the drink’s feminine and glamorous aesthetic – perfect for sharing on social media.
Although red wine still reigns, rosé is growing in popularity. Nowadays one in ten bottles of wine sold is rosé. And it’s likely the trend towards increased rosé consumption will continue as wine drinkers seek to tantalise their taste buds with new flavours. Producing (and consuming) more rosé wine than any other country in the world, France is certainly on to a good thing.
If you’d like to find out more about Provence rosé, we suggest you check out our article “Provence is Provence, it is the rosé capital of the world”.
To finish up, we’d like to end with a Provençal proverb: “A day without wine is like a day without sun.”
With that in mind, don’t forget to browse our extensive catalogue of Provence rosés. We’re confident you’ll find something to your taste!
A wine that surprises with its freshness, revealed in the intense notes of citrus fruits, exotic fruits, flowers and red fruits on the nose. Once tasted, it amazes with an unexpected explosion of white pepper notes.