It’s a word you may have heard of or seen on wine labels, but there’s so much more in the name Provence. In southeastern France, hugging the Rhone River to its left and the Mediterranean below, the area is filled with vibrant lavender fields, sunflowers, and olive trees. Its Mediterranean climate makes it ideal for vineyards to produce wine.
The area has been producing wine since 600 BC! First by the Greeks – who arrived from modern-day Turkey – later by the Romans and of course now the French. But its really been only over the past 50 years, when poorer grape varieties were reduced and new technologies introduced, that Provence has become a global wine powerhouse. The vast majority of wines produced are Rosés.
Provence is the only area to specialize in Rosé, thanks to its diverse geography – think mountain ranges (vines love climbing up hills) and protected valleys. Local plants – like lavender, rosemary, juniper, and thyme – are said to influence the flavor of local wines. With its classic Mediterranean climate, Provence is the motherland of rosé wines. Mild winters, abundant sunshine, ‘mistral’ winds, and varied soils provide both diversity and consistency in the wines produced here with star grapes being: mourvedre, grenache, syrah, cinsault. Highly regulated, approx.. 36 varieties of wines are allowed in the region.
Winery to Watch
One notable local winery is Domaine de la Sangliere, home of the most exquisite and traditional rosé wines in the world. It is situated right on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, in an area of Provence called Bormes-les-Mimosas, a beautiful seaside village named after its well-decorated Mimosas. The winery is ideally located just outside Saint Tropez and stretches over 45 hectares of land. With great southern exposure, the land is made of a filterable siliceous soil containing micaschists, schists, and white quartz. The slopes are rather soft and the grapevines are on average 25 years old, benefitting from hot and dry weather in the summer.
Another is Domaine Sainte-Marie, which was founded in the 18th century under remarkable circumstance. In 1884 a cholera epidemic came to the region but, seemingly miraculously, stops at this field. The villagers built a statue of the Virgin Mary to thank her, hence the name. Several generations of winemakers followed and produced high quality wines. Since 2007 it has been managed by the Duburcq family.
Taste for yourself
One of Domaine de la Sangliere’s wines to start with is the light, refreshing Breezette Rosé. It is rich with ripe exotic citrus fruits, like pineapple and red grapefruit, and has a hint of sea salt given the winery’s close proximity to the sea. With its light golden color and its perfect minerality and fruit flavors, this is a true and traditional expression of a beautifully crafted Provence rosé wine.
Looking for something a little lighter? Grab a bottle of their Juliette – or better yet, a can of Juliette Light. Juliette Light is a refreshingly crisp rosé with immediate notes of fresh, ripe grapefruit. The soft bubbles elevate the exotic citrus aromas while balancing the acidity. Whether you’re sipping through a straw or over ice, Juliette Light makes it easy to enjoy fresh and delicious rosé anytime, anywhere.
The crown jewel of Domaine Sainte-Marie is Vie Vite, and Vie Vite Extraordinaire. Vie Vite is a versatile wine, exciting all wine lovers with its opulent fruit forward aromas of peach, grape, apricot and black currant, while emanating soft hues of pale pink and coral. For more special occasions, Vie Vite Extraordinaire tastes if strawberries and berries and structured with intensity and complexity that shines through the extraordinarily old vines it is made of. This is a bold rosé wine that has a long satin and smooth finish that lingers flawlessly. A true wine lovers rosé.
Check out the Hitchcock classic “To Catch a Thief” – with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly – to see the region for yourself. Grant’s farmhouse home in the movie is nestled in those Provence hills. Pour yourself a glass of Rose and press play, enjoy.