Drink your way around Provence… 6 of the best Provençal wines

Making wine, particularly rosé, has been Provence’s specialty for a long time. The grapes and soil throughout the region vary a lot, but the hot, sunny and dry climate is ideal for the local wines. The red grape varieties are used because they cope well with strong sun exposure and poor soils: Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Tibouren and Calitor. The rosés are made out of the same varieties but the musts only macerate for a few hours so the fruits’ skins don’t darken the juice or release too many tannins.

Côtes de Provence covers the vast area between Marseilles and Nice and their dry and fruity wines conjure up visions of a delightful rosé accompanying a long lazy sunlit lunch – it never tastes quite the same under a grey British sky!

rose-wine

There are also plenty of flavoursome reds and light whites that go especially well with the local seafood.

Here is a brief description of the wines you can enjoy whilst exploring beautiful and breathtaking Provence:

Côtes du Lubéron

Some whites and rosés but mainly delicate, well balanced reds, with red and blackberry notes and silky tannins that are best drunk young.

Gigondas

Another well balanced, full flavoured powerful red, one of the best of the southern Côtes du Rhône. It has an intense ripe blackberry bouquet with liquorice and toasted coffee notes. It is best to wait at least five years before drinking it so the tannins can melt properly. 2009, 2010 and 2015 are reputed to be good vintages.

wine-cheese

Vacqueyras

Excellent full-bodied Cru Côtes du Rhône. It has an expressive blackcurrant and raspberry bouquet to which the Syrah brings peppery and violet notes. The powerful texture and flavour will pair well with lamb or grilled meat. It should be stored for three years before being drunk. 2015 and 2016 were the latest great vintage years.

Rasteau

The village is noted for its rich, vigorous red wine with blackcurrant, cherry and toasted cocoa aromas. It has a dense and luscious texture in the mouth with a wide aromatic range. It can be stored for at least 10 years and goes well with chocolate desserts. However, Rasteau is also famous for its diverse sweet wines with crystallised and dry fruit aromas with spicy notes. The 2011 vintage was given a score of 90 by Wine Spectator.

red-pour

Beaumes-de-Venise

Internationally renowned for its fragrant, sweet white Muscat, the rosé and the red Muscat could be original alternatives. They respectively develop fine flowery and fruity eau de vie flavours. Beaumes-de-Venise also produces a fruity, spicy, mellow red with robust but fine tannins, which is best drunk young.

white-red

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

One of the best Côtes du Rhône appellations that takes its name from the former Popes’ secondary property in this vineyard because of the quality of its wines. The reds are fleshy, rich, robust but very fine wines with pronounced spicy and musky aromas. They can be stored for 20 or more years depending on the quality of the vintage.

Picked up a bottle or two during your travels? Headwater’s Wine Service means you won’t have to worry about carrying them around in your bag or panniers.

Tina James is the Managing Director at Headwater Holidays.

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