KNOW IT ALL
THE FIRST WINE GROWING AREA IN THE HISTORY OF FRANCE
In a glass of Provence wine, there are 26 centuries of history. When the Phocaeans founded Marseille 2,600 years ago, they introduced a fabulous plant to France for the very first time: the grape vine. Historically, Provence is therefore the very first wine growing area in France. Since then, the wine-growing tradition and the art of producing wine have come a long way, but the vine has never left our region!
IN THE BEGINNING: THE PROVINCIA ROMANA
The Romans developed the vineyards in France from Provence. Four centuries after the Phocaeans, from the year 200 BC, they developed and organized the Provincia Romana: Provence. The cities of Aquae Sextiae (Aix-en-Provence), Forum Julii (Fréjus) and its military port then emerge. When extending their empire, the Romans took the vine everywhere with them. This is how the other Gallic vineyards in the Rhone Valley, Beaujolais, Burgundy, Gascony and Bordeaux were born.
THE CLERGY AND THE NOBILITY TOOK CARE OF THE GRAPE VINES
They built the foundations of modern wine-producing Provence. The vine will know a new development from the High Middle Ages. From the 5th century to the 12th century, the abbeys of Saint-Victor in Marseille, Saint-Honorat on the Lérins Islands (off Cannes), Saint Pons in Nice and Le Thoronet produced and marketed wine. From the 14th century onwards, the noble families of the kingdom, the nobles and the great officers of the royal army acquired many Provençal vineyards. Wine growing Provence was born.
THE OLDEST AND MOST MODERN OF WINES
Fashionable drinking and traditional drinking at the same time... it's possible! Rosé wine is not only the trendy wine of the 21st century. When the Greeks planted the first vines in Provence, the wine they produced was already rosé! Indeed, winemaking techniques were different at the time: the method of maceration of red grapes, which gives the colour to red wines, was unknown or not practiced. Red grape wines were therefore rosé. Thus Provence is the oldest of the French vine growing areas and the rosé wine, the oldest of the listed wines.
THE INTERPROFESSIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVENCE WINES
The CIVP is an association that brings together wine growers, winemakers, cooperative cellars and merchants putting wine under an AOC Provence. It was officially recognised by a decree on 19 December 2003. The head office is located at the Maison des Vins, in the commune of Les Arcs-sur-Argens. Since 1 January 2004, the CIVP groups together the three appellations Côtes-de-Provence, Coteaux-d'Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux-varois-en-Provence, i.e. 96 % of Provence's appellations of origin.
THE VINEYARDS OF PROVENCE: 6% OF FRENCH AOC PRODUCTION, ALL COLOURS COMBINED
To discover and appreciate its unique wines in the world, you have to know Provence. A particularly varied landscape, swept by the Mistral wind and warmed by a hot and dry climate that gives it its special character. Between the Mediterranean and the Alps, this vineyard stretches from west to east over nearly 200 km, mainly in the departments of Var and Bouches du Rhône. It is important to know that if the Provençal vineyard is the historical specialist of clear and fruity rosé with a great aromatic diversity, it also produces remarkable reds and tender and delicate whites.
THE AOP AND AOC LABELS, A CONCEPT OF TERROIR AND KNOW-HOW
The rules for recognising these labels are subject to control procedures implemented by an independent body approved by INAO*. The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) designates products that meet the PDO criteria and protects the name on French territory. It is a step towards the PDO, the Protected Designation of Origin, which is now a European sign that designates a product where all the stages of production are carried out according to recognised know-how in the same geographical area, which gives the product its characteristics.
CRUS CLASSÉS: AN HONORARY TITLE FOR SOME CÔTES DE PROVENCE WINES
The Cru Classé title was created in the 1950s under the supervision of the INAO, with the aim of sublimating the image of Provence wines. Blocked by the rigour of restrictive, even nebulous criteria – difficult to appreciate their real merit –, access to this label is today definitively closed. After the disappearance of five of them, only 18 estates (out of 300) having met the specificities imposed at the time, still have the right to inscribe these two magic words on their label. This can be seen as a subjective guarantee of quality and excellence that will greatly influence the choice of purchase, even if the market offers a quantity of new productions of equivalent quality. It is therefore difficult for the neophyte to make a judicious choice, between a Clos Mistinguett at 8.40€ and a Domaine Ott at 25€...
INERTAGE: AN ANTI-OXIDATION PROTOCOL
Inerting is a process traditionally used by winemakers to protect their wine from oxidation by using a neutral gas. Indeed, the oxygen in the air can lead to a deterioration of the wine, the deterioration of its qualities and even premature ageing. The protocol is simple and effective. It consists in replacing the ambient air contained in the tank with nitrogen, which is totally odourless and colourless. With its density close to that of air, this gas, which is economical to use, has the property of being inert and does not dissolve in the wine. These advantages make it the most widely used gas in oenology.
THE VINTAGE EFFECT: A STORY OF WEATHER AND CORKS
In the saga of wine, what makes its richness, the vintages follow one another but do not resemble one another. On the same plot, depending on the year, from one vintage to another, nothing can guarantee the same organoleptic qualities. The main reason for this is the weather conditions which greatly influence the vine, its maturity and balance.