Journey of Provence: The Wine

The wines of Provence’s 6 regions could take you months and years to cover so what a great place to explore!  During our 8 day Journey we covered 4 key AOCs (Appellation d’Origine Controlée, France’s wine classification system).

Côtes-du-Rhône

These wines have a longer history than any other French wine dating back to the Romans in 125 BC. Avignon is the capital city of the Côtes-du-Rhône wines which cover 100,000 acres and became an AOC back in 1937. The Southern Rhône where we explored is mostly red wine made predominantly of the Grenache grape but increasingly supplemented with Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes. Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages is further special distinction.  They all tend to be rich in flavor with smooth tannins.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

A beautiful town on the Rhône just north of Avignon is the heart of the Southern Rhône region and sums up all its qualities, a full, meaty, spicy red wine. Thus its popularity around the world (you may know it from its distinctive, heavy dark embossed with papal insignia bottles). We visited the Château des Fines Roches castle from the road and enjoyed a tasting of several of the wines from their vineyards.

Côtes du Luberon

An AOC since 1988, the 7,500 acres of vineyards from Cavaillon to Apt mostly go to cooperatives for Vin de Pays (local table wine). However in the last 15 years the quality is improving thanks to key vineyards like Domaine de la Citadelle, owned by Yves Rousset-Rouard, a film producer and politican, who built this Corkscrew Museum and winery. We stopped in for a tasting of their classic Luberons which were quite nice. Luberon wines were also featured in Peter Mayle’s A Good Year book and movie made my Ridley Scott (both live in the area).

Côtes-de-Provence

Know for its famous summer sipping rosé wines, it offers great whites and reds as well. As we crossed the Var region in route to St-Tropez, we stopped into the famous Château Sainte Roseline outside Les-Arc. It was definitely my favorite vineyard of our trip… for its great tasting room, knowledgable staff, great tasting of wines and the gorgeous property. Located in a 10th century abbey, the chapel itself is worth a visit. A Chagall mosaic Le Rapa Anges (The Angel’s Meal) depicts 14th century Sainte Roseline’s miracle… so entranced in prayer she forgot to make the large meal she was supposed to do so called on the angels who came down and produced an extravagant feast.  From award winning wines to cool packaging this is a winery to visit and a wine to try.

Coming tomorrow: The Coast. For more photos of our Journey visit the gallery.