French Provence wine, information and history

French wine of Provence - facts, information and history

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French wine - Provence

The area of Provence is located in the south-east of France on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and near the border with Italy. Provence vintners specialise in Rosé wine, 75% of the areas production is Rosé, and accounts for 45% of the production from the entirety of France.

Within Provence itself there are three Appellations: Côtes de Provence, Couteaux Varois en Provence, and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.

Côtes de Provence is quite a large area which includes the French Riviera (the Côte d'Azur) stretching from Nice to Marseilles. It consists of one large area and three other disconnected small areas.

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence is in the North and Northwest of Provence while Couteaux Varois en Provence covers the central area.

But there are two local Appellations which are of considerable interest: Bandol and Bellet. Bandol is located on the hills facing the sea near Toulon; while Bellet is a small area just west of Nice.

The first vines in Bandol were planted by the Greeks in 500BC, however commercial wine production stopped when the Romans invaded in 120BC because they wanted to protect Italian wines and banned the growing of grape vines. However retiring Roman soldiers moved to the area and grew vines for their own consumption. 200 year old bottles of Bandol wine have been found in South America and India.

Meanwhile, Bellet is one of the two smallest Appellations in France, just 47 hectares (just under 120 acres). It is located on steep hillsides and all the work must be done by hand which means it has a very low production, but its wines are of the finest quality though it’s hard to get hold of outside of Nice.