Jill BarthTaste: Food & DrinkWines and Spirits of Provence

Bellet Vineyards So Close to Nice, France

By Jill Barth:

As France’s oldest wine region, Provence is infinitely important to the global history of viticulture. The region was settled by the Phocaeans around 600 BC, and it’s believed that the Greeks were responsible for the dawn of winemaking and grape growing in ancient Provence. These early wines were pale, made in a free-run fashion with a flash maceration.

Provence History and Appellations

By the 2nd century BC, an alliance was formed with the Romans, and evidence of their influence is still felt in modern-day Provence. Continue reading here for the original contributor blog post by L’Occasion. The rosés of Provence, so prevalent today, were crafted initially in Roman times.

Côtes de Provence (CdP) is a wine appellation covering a geographic region of some 20,000 hectares (almost 50,000 acres) and touching 84 communes. As Jill explains, there are four (4) sub-appellations within the CdP.

Bellet Vineyards in Nice

In addition to CdP, there are several other wine Appellation d’Origine Protégées (AOPs) in Provence. Bellet is one of the smallest appellations, and it was the first to receive the AOP status in Provence, on November 11, 1941.

The vineyards of Bellet are actually within the urban city limits of Nice, France. It is the only AOP in France where that is the case.  There are two indigenous grape varieties, which are found in the rosé and red wines. The Braquet varietal is the main ingredient in a Bellet (AOP) Rosé and often the only variety used. The other indigenous variety, Folle Noir is used in red wines blends along with Braquet.

The grape vines of Bellet are planted at altitudes of roughly 2-300m above sea level. Like much of Provence these vineyards are graced with plenty of sunshine, sufficient rain, and enough wind. It’s a perfect microclimate for grape growing. There are currently ten (10) vineyards in Bellet listed below in alphabetic order:

  • Château de Bellet
  • Château de Crémat
  • Clos Nicea
  • Clos St Vincent
  • Collet de Bovis
  • Domaine de Vinceline
  • Domaine de la Source
  • Domaine St Jean
  • Domaine de Toasc
  • Via Julia-Augusta

If you are visiting Nice, head to the hills behind the city to see this small wine growing area for yourself, or hire a local guide to take you on a tour.

      

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Jill Barth

Jill Barth

Jill is a writer whose characters make wine, love wine, and live wine. Research for her forthcoming novel–the story of a Provençal winemaking family during the Second World War–has afforded her glorious pleasures: meetings with ambitious French vignerons, travel up and down France in bouncy Renaults, overnights in shuttered châteaux, and many hours as a student of wine with a glass to her lips. In this role, she not only enjoys her own relationship with wine but she also indulges in the life of the French winemaking family that inhabits the pages of her novel.

Jill writes about wine, travel and occasionally yoga (she’s a certified yoga instructor). Her fiction has been featured on NPR and has been published in several literary journals.

Her writings can also be found on her blog L’Occasion.

Follow along with Jill on twitter and instagram.

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