Provence is a region in southeastern France extending from the left bank of the Rhône on its west, to the Italian border on its east, and bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to its south.
The region has a Mediterranean climate comprised of hot dry summers and mild winters, with little snow. There is an abundance of sunshine. Winds are important to Provence with the “Mistral,” a cold and dry wind that blows down the Rhône valley into the region, keeping the region dry with low humidity.
Much of the regional food in Provence is based on the huge availability of fresh seafood from the coast. Time-honored dishes of the region include Bouillabaisse (the classic seafood dish) and Escabeche (sardines poached or fried after being marinated in vinegar or citrus juice overnight). Fougasse is the traditional bread, which is round and flat with holes cut out in it. It is often baked with olives or nuts. The basic ingredients that are readily available include olives, olive oil, garlic, lamb, goat, sardines, rockfish, octopus, and sea urchins. Local fruits in the region include peaches, apricots, strawberries, cherries, melons and, of course, grapes!
Wine has been produced in Provence for more than 2,600 years, making it the oldest wine-producing region in all of France. The area lends itself to grape growing, with its eclectic soils, ranging from limestone in the west, to schist/granite in the east. The Mistral winds keep the vineyards dry, reduce the number of pests, and ensure lots of clear sunny skies. Of the wine produced in Provence yearly, 88% is rosé. Provence style rosé is often the yardstick by which rosés from around the world are measured.
Appellation d’origine controlees (AOCs) are specific designated areas for growing grapes that are defined by specific grape-growing, wine-making regulations and labeling requirements. There are three AOCs in Provence: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, and Coteaux Varois de Provence.
Côtes de Provence is the largest AOC and about 75% of Provence’s wine is made in this region, of which 89% is rosé. Grapes grown in this AOC include Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Tibouron, which is a red grape originating in Greece, but is almost always now associated with Provence. The second AOC is Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, where the Mistral winds are most prevalent. Vineyards date back to 600 BC. Rosé from this AOC are most often a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah and Counoise. The final AOC is Coteaux Varois de Provence which translates as “The Heart of Provence.” Rosé from this AOC will usually contain Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache and Syrah.
One of the wines City Vino will be featuring Saturday June 8th, 2019, will be the Domaine Fabre Côtes de Provence Cuvée Serpolet Rosé 2018. This wine, from the Côtes de Provence, is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah. It is light and fresh, with aromas and flavors of fresh berries along with refreshing acidity and a slight hint of salty minerality. Drink as an aperitif or enjoy with salad, seafood, crudités or light cheeses.