Ultimate Guide to the Provence Wine Region

Provence is home to many great wines, including Cassis, Coteaux Varios, Cotes de Provence and Les Baux-de-Provence.­ See more wine pictures.
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­Visit the south of France and you'll find beautiful beaches, incredi­ble landscapes, an abundance of sunshine and wine that just keeps getting better. Provence­, which is located in the south of France, is actually France's oldest wine-producing region [source: France Tourism]. It borders the Mediterranean Sea and covers Cote d'Azur, from Aix en Provence and the Rhone valley to Nice and the Alps.

There are eight recognized appellations within the Provence wine region. An appellation is a protected name under which a wine may be sold, indicating the specific types of grapes used and the district from which they come. The appellations of Provence are Bandol, Bellet, Cassis, Coteaux Varois, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence, Cotes de Provence, Les Baux-de-Provence and Palette [source: Wine Searcher]. The Cotes de Provence is the largest of the appellations and accounts for nearly 75 percent of all wine production in the region.

Provence isn't the largest region around. In fact, when you compare it to the 6.7 million acres (2.7 million hectares) of Languedoc-Roussillon, it seems downright tiny, boasting some 500 wineries, on only 68,000 acres (27,500 hectares). However, the incredible variety of soil types in the region helps to cultivate a number of different grape varieties.

­The region produces reds and whites, but rose has always been their piece de resistance. Out of the 140 million bottles produced annually in Provence, 75 percent of them are rose. That's 105 million bottles every year. Even more im­pressive is the fact that the rose output of the region accounts for 45 percent of France's total rose production [source: Wine Answers]. Bottom line, when people think Provence, they think rose.

Wine aficionados speak fondly of the Bandol and Bellet produced in Provence. The Mourvedre grown on the hills between La Ciotat and Toulon helps to produce one of the best reds in the region, but they only produce 5 million bottles annually under the Bandol label so it can be very hard to find. Bellet, one of the smallest appellations in France, produces some of the best French wine around and they do it on a mere 80 acres (32.4 hectares) of hillside that can only be worked by hand [source: Wine Answers]. Perhaps it's this hands-on approach that is responsible for the high quality of the wine produced.