Discover Provence beyond Rosé

Most of my friends associate Provence with Rosé and picnic foods. Yet, the region has so much more to offer. On my last visit, I was on a mission to find inspirational pairings and captivating wines that went beyond traditionalism. Provence makes fantastic roses, but they also make spectacular reds and whites. Although they account for only a small percentage of production (8.5% reds and 3.5% whites), I highly recommend them because they are delicious and the pairings are endless.

As for reds, you’ll find eight varieties—most of which are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan. My perception is that most Provencal reds are luscious and offer flavors of violets, blackberries, blackcurrant, cherries, and licorice with some spiciness to the finish. I found them quite flirtatious when young, and powerful when they had a few years on them. And I knew they would pair beautifully with grilled meats accompanied with local herbs de Provence the minute the wines hit my lips. Any aged cheese would be fantastic as well.

For the whites, Provence reserves roughly 3.5% of production each year for blancs, representing nearly 6 million bottles. Considering production is small, grab any bottle you find on local shelves, because chances are you won’t find them again. Provence whites are aromatic and citrusy with peach and pear notes, and when left on lees, offer soft hints of sweet spices and toasted hazelnuts. Many whites consist of a grape called Rolle, which is also known as Vermentino, which is hardy and flavorful with lots of citrus and pear aromas and flavors. Another popular white grape, Ugni Blanc, originates from Tuscany, providing juicy, vivacious whites that are round and elegant. Delicious!

I also noticed many white blends using Clairette, which is a very ancient variety from Provence. The grape produces aromatic whites with an excellent flowery bouquet. Many producers also use Sémillon for its aromatic properties which tend to showcase white flowers and honey. I’ve listed a few favorites I found on the trip with some fantastic food pairings you should try.

CHÂTEAU MARGÜI

Chateau Margui

Chateau Margui cat

2016 Chateau Margui Les Pierres Sauvages White, Provence, France
This is a blend of 90% Rolle (Vermentino) and 10% Ugni Blanc. Its vivid, lively and beautiful with notes of citrus, white flowers and mineral. It’s quite spectacular with alluring citrus and fruits that lead to a bright, beautiful finish.

WHITE CHATEAU MARGUI LES PIERRES SAUVAGES

Chateau Margui, Provence

Le Mas du Lingousto Squash risotto with foie gras

Both wines pair sensationaly with squash risotto and foie gras, served at Le Mas du Lingousto

truffles and provence wine

Provence whites and reds pair amazingly with Provence Truffles

2012 Chateau Margui Margui Titien De Margui Red, Provence, France
Made from a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Grenache, this wine is complex and smooth. I loved its sensual red fruits and velvety finish. It’s a structured and powerful red that begs for your attention. It finishes long and strong with spice and cocoa. Lovely!

RED CHATEAU MARGUI TITIEN DE MARGUI

Chateau Margui cat

HECHT BANNIER

2015 Hecht Bannier Côtes de Provence Blanc, Provence, France
The Hecht Bannier Côtes de Provence blanc is 100% Vermentino (a.k.a. locally named Rolle). It’s a native from Corsica and has evolved beautifully in Provence. It works well in this region which is of high altitude with hot, dry soils. This Côtes de Provence blanc is lively and fun, expressing notes of fennel, and star anise. This is a perfect wine with grilled or raw fish dishes, as well as mature goat cheese. Drink up!

Hecht Bannier Côtes de Provence Blanc

sauteed fish from Provence

Fish dishes are sensational with Provence whites

salmon tartare sushi

Salmon sushi pairs great with Provence whites and roses

CHÂTEAU DE L’ESCARELLE

Chateau de l’Escarelle whites

2015 L’Escarelle White cuvée 1718, Provence, France
Bright citrus notes with mineral and honey flavors. The wine has good acidity and a beautiful, long finish; pair with aged cheese, fish dishes or charcuterie with meats, cheeses and olives.

Chateau de l’Escarelle white

Chateau de l’Escarelle

Chateau de l’Escarelle flowers

Provence charcuterie

olives provence

Charcuterie pairs wonderfully with both white and red cuvées

2014 L’Escarelle Rouge cuvée 1718, Provence, France
This is a fresh and lively blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon that is a powerful yet elegant red that will cellar beautifully for five years.  Grapes were harvested from low yielding plots, vinified and aged in wooden vats. I found this wine particularly captivating.

2014 L'Escarelle Rouge cuvée 1718

CHÂTEAU HENRI BONNAUD

chateau henri bonnaud

Stephane Spitzglous of henri bonnaud

2011 Château Henri Bonnaud Rouge, Provence, France
This is a really lovely blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and old Carignan. The grapes are grown on south facing slopes that are planted in Langesse (chalky) soils. The wine is elegant and refined, with wonderful flavors and aromas of cherries and spice. This is a delicious wine!!

DOMAINE LONGUE TUBI

Domaine Longue Tubi Rouge AOP, Provence, France
Domaine Longue Tubi is a family adventure driven by the passion of the vine and the wine. The estate sits in the gentle landscape of the Var. This is the first red wine of the estate, which is a 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  It’s soft and pretty, with notes of cherries, blackberries and spice. It’s simply a beautifully crafted wine.

domaine longue tubi

Guinea fowl

Guinea fowl with pears, herbs and crushed potatoes in olive oil served at Le Mas du Lingousto, pairs well with the Longue Tubi, as well as the La Tulipe Noir and Croix-Rousse (below).

2013 Chateau La Tulipe Noir, Provence France
A 60% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon blend with a good dose of red and black fruits. It’s a harmonies wine with good tannins and acidity. Finishes long and strong with a spicy, pepper finish.

la tulipe noire provence

2011 Domaine Croix-Rousse Cotes de Provence Suve du Vent Rouge, Provence, France
A mouthwatering red wine with mint, cloves, black fruits and juniper aromas and flavors. It’s a spectacular, opulent wine that is complex and pretty, expressing everything that Provence has to offer. The finish is velvety and powerful. Beautiful!

red domaine croix rousse red

2015 Malherbe blanc, Provence, France
Wow, what a pretty blend of Sémillon and Rolle! She is flirtatious, aromatic and fine, with long, harmonious flavors–a perfect food wine that I’ll be adding to my wine list. This blanc will pair with just about everything from crustaceans, to grilled and sautéed fish, to puff pastry, or pork and chicken with rich sauces. Add it to your cellar. You won’t be disappointed.

Malherbe blanc

snails on vine in provence

As you can see, the region has so much diversity in terms of styles and choices. I hope I’ve inspired you to go beyond your comfort zone and try the lovely whites and reds coming from Provence!

 

2017-04-08T22:12:34+00:00

About the Author:

Editor and co-founder of Enobytes.com, Pamela is a sommelier and former restaurant manager and wine buyer with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Court of Master Sommeliers & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.

9 Comments

  1. Marcy L. April 8, 2017 at 9:58 PM - Reply

    I recall you telling me about the whites and reds of Provence when you returned. You are right, they are hard to find, but man, they are really good! I found a few that you listed plus a white and red from Domaine Petroni, which were bargains at $14 a bottle from K&L. Thanks for the recos, they were great.

    • enobytes April 10, 2017 at 6:50 PM - Reply

      Sounds like I need to hunt down that Petroni! Let me know when you are in the area and we’ll make it a night

  2. Allison Wallace April 9, 2017 at 9:29 PM - Reply

    I have to admit, I generally associate Provence with Rose but I’m now determined to find some of the 8.5% reds & 3.5% whites! And as for the photos, simply mouth-watering!

    • enobytes April 10, 2017 at 6:51 PM - Reply

      I have to admit I thought the same before visiting! I made the assumption that the whites and reds were not very good because they made so few…I was sadly mistaken.

  3. Robin Renken April 10, 2017 at 10:20 AM - Reply

    I am enchanted! Your photos evoke such an essence of the place, I can hear the birds and smell the air. I have always loved Vermentino (Rolle) and am fascinated by the blends you mention. “Guinea fowl with pears, herbs and crushed potatoes in olive oil”…sounds wonderful! Do you know if any of these amazing wines have been imported to the US? Or do I need to book a flight to Provence to enjoy them?

    • enobytes April 10, 2017 at 6:57 PM - Reply

      Thanks Robin! Many are available in the U.S., but finding them depends on where you live. As another reader mentioned, she finds a good selection at K&L (one of my favorite online retailers) and if you live in a state where you can get wine shipped to your door (why are there still states that don’t allow shipments? CRAZY!) this is the best bet. Cheers!

  4. Jill Barth April 11, 2017 at 1:24 PM - Reply

    Your images are so stunning, full of that soft vibrancy of Provence. It looks like you had an outstanding trip.

    Just passed my Provence Master Level Exam and I’m on my way there again later this month. I’m hoping to sample more Sainte-Victoire reds while I am there.

    Thanks so much for this piece and for all of your impressions. Lovely stuff and I look forward to more!

    • enobytes April 11, 2017 at 5:05 PM - Reply

      Major congrats on the certification Jill! Was this with the Wine Scholar Guild? I really like their programs–very thorough and I enjoy Elizabeth Gabay as an instructor.

  5. Andrew Welch April 11, 2017 at 6:50 PM - Reply

    Crazy that almost 90% of a region’s production could be in rose, but that makes sense for Provence! I’d never thought to seek out reds and whites, though, so will certainly do that. BTW, you take wonderful food pictures (something I always struggle to make look good!

Leave A Comment