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Our Guide to Cotes de Provence Rose! Everything You Want To Know
As the sweltering summer sun makes its entrance, there’s no better companion than a chilled glass of Rosé from the Côtes de Provence. This wine region, nestled in the heart of the French Riviera, is known worldwide for its splendid Rosé wines that offer an aromatic bouquet of delightful flavors to the palate.
Côtes de Provence Rosé’s popularity has surged in recent years, and it’s easy to understand why. These wines are celebrated for their fresh, crisp flavors, typically presenting a delicate balance of fruitiness and acidity, making them particularly popular in warmer months. It’s not only a splendid wine for picnics, barbecues, or beach trips but also an excellent choice for fine dining experiences.
- “Côtes de Provence” is the name of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), a designated wine-growing area in France. This term translates to “Hillsides of Provence” or “Coasts of Provence”, indicating the hilly and coastal terrain that characterizes the region.
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History of Côtes de Provence
The wine-making history of Provence stretches back over 2600 years, making it one of the oldest wine-producing regions in France, and arguably, in the world. The Phoenicians, Greek settlers who colonized the region in 600 BC, initiated viticulture in this region. However, it was the arrival of the Romans in the 2nd century BC that led to a significant expansion of winemaking in Provence.
The region has always been known for its Rosé, but the creation of the Côtes de Provence appellation in 1977 really established its reputation on the global stage. This AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) now encompasses more than 20,000 hectares and produces over 123 million bottles of wine per year, of which around 90% is Rosé.
Making Cotes de Provence Rose
Direct pressing is the most common method used. After harvest, the grapes are de-stemmed and crushed, and then pressed to extract the juice. Because the skins are only in contact with the juice for a short time, the result is often a pale, delicate Rosé.
The Saignée (or “bleeding”) method is also used, though less frequently. In this method, the juice is ‘bled off’ from a vat of red wine after it has had some contact with the skins, generally between two and twenty hours. This method produces a deeper, more robust Rosé.
What Grapes Are Used in Côtes de Provence Rosé?
Côtes de Provence Rosé is a blended wine, typically made from several grape varietals that grow in the Provence wine region.
- Grenache: Grenache is a widely planted grape variety in the region. It offers sweet fruit flavors and helps to provide the body to the wine.
- Cinsault: Cinsault adds softness and bouquet to the blend. It brings delicate strawberry and raspberry notes, contributing to the wine’s fruity profile.
- Syrah: Syrah gives structure and color to the wine. It can add spicy notes and complexity.
- Mourvèdre: Mourvèdre is a late-ripening grape that adds depth, structure, and color to the wine. It can also contribute flavors of dark fruit and earthy notes.
- Tibouren: This is a local grape variety of Provence, traditionally used in rosé wines. Tibouren is appreciated for its ability to convey the terroir and for its distinctive aroma profile, contributing floral and herbal notes.
- Carignan: Though used less frequently, Carignan can also contribute to the blend, adding structure and acidity.
Where is Cotes de Provence Rose located?
The Côtes de Provence is a wine region located in the southeastern part of France, covering a vast area in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It stretches from the alpine hills in the north to the Mediterranean coastline in the south. This appellation includes parts of the Var and Alpes-Maritimes departments, and a small part of the Bouches-du-Rhône department.
The region is known for its diverse geography, featuring a mix of coastal areas, hillsides, and plateaus, which contributes to the wide array of microclimates found within the appellation. This variability in climate and geography allows for a diverse range of grape varieties to be cultivated, each expressing unique characteristics of the terroir in the resulting wines.
The largest city within the Côtes de Provence region is Marseille, while other notable cities include Nice, Toulon, and Aix-en-Provence. However, many of the wineries are situated in more rural settings, amongst the beautiful landscapes of Provence, featuring iconic lavender fields, olive groves, and the azure Mediterranean Sea.
What Does Cotes de Provence Rose Taste Like?
Côtes de Provence Rosé is celebrated for its fresh, crisp taste and delicate flavors. The wine usually exhibits a pale, often slightly salmon-like color, symbolic of Provence Rosé. It offers a harmonious blend of fruitiness and acidity, embodying flavors of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon, peach, citrus, and often a touch of minerality.
On the nose, it presents aromatic notes of fresh red fruits, flowers, and a hint of spices.
It’s a wine that screams summer but can be enjoyed year-round, transporting the drinker to the sunny climes of southern France with each sip.
Most Popular Cotes de Provence Rose Wineries
- Château d’Esclans: This winery has truly raised the profile of Provence Rosé on the global stage. Their prestige cuvée, ‘Garrus’, is often referred to as the greatest rosé in the world. They also produce the popular ‘Whispering Angel’ Rosé, known for its freshness and crisp taste.
- Domaines Ott: Founded in 1912, Domaines Ott is one of the most respected wineries in Provence, producing some of the region’s most prestigious wines. Their Clos Mireille and Château de Selle Rosés are highly sought after for their elegance and complexity.
- Château Minuty: Château Minuty is a historic estate located on the St. Tropez Peninsula. Their Rosé wines, including the ‘M de Minuty’, are celebrated for their vibrant fruit character and delicate balance.
- Château Miraval: Owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Château Miraval has garnered much attention in recent years. Their Rosé, made in partnership with the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel fame, is a fresh and vibrant expression of Provence.
- Domaine de Rimauresq: This winery’s Rosé wines are recognized for their complexity and age-worthiness. They offer a variety of Rosés, each showcasing a different facet of the terroir.
- Clos Cibonne: Known for its commitment to the indigenous Tibouren grape, Clos Cibonne’s Rosés are unique, with a savory, complex character that distinguishes them from more typical Provence Rosés.
- Château Sainte Marguerite: Certified organic, this Cru Classé estate produces a range of elegant, balanced Rosés that are respected both locally and internationally.
- Domaine du Jas d’Esclans: This winery is well-regarded for its organic and biodynamic practices. Their Rosé wines are known for their expressive fruit and refined structure.
Pairing Côtes de Provence Rosé
- Seafood: Given the wine’s coastal origin, it pairs brilliantly with a wide array of seafood dishes. Try it with grilled fish, shrimp, scallops, or a classic bouillabaisse – a traditional Provencal fish stew.
- Provencal Cuisine: As is often the case, local wines pair well with local cuisine. Côtes de Provence Rosé is an excellent match for Provencal dishes such as ratatouille or a Niçoise salad.
- Grilled White Meats: The wine’s bright acidity and fresh flavors make it a good companion for grilled chicken or pork. It also pairs nicely with turkey or ham, making it a wonderful choice for holiday meals.
- Spicy Foods: The fruitiness and freshness of Côtes de Provence Rosé can beautifully offset the heat of spicy foods. Consider pairing it with Thai, Indian, or Mexican dishes.
- Cheeses: Rosé from Côtes de Provence pairs well with a variety of cheeses. Try it with soft goat cheese, Brie, or Camembert, or with harder cheeses like Comté or Gruyère.
- Fruit-Based Desserts: While not a traditional dessert wine, the fruity profile of Côtes de Provence Rosé allows it to pair surprisingly well with light, fruit-based desserts like a fresh berry tart or lemon sorbet.
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