Carolyne Kauser-AbbottTasteWines and Spirits of Provence

Provence Wine Regions and Wineries Essentials Reference List

Provence’s Mediterranean climate includes warm, dry summers, mild winters, and soil well-suited for vineyards. It’s no wonder that the wine regions of Provence are well known for producing some of the best wines in France – and around the world. The following article overviews the Provence wine regions, wineries and some recipes.

History of Wine in Provence

There is evidence the ancient Greeks who founded Marseilles 2600 years ago started producing wine in the area. Over the centuries, the Romans, Gauls, Catalans and Savoyards introduced grape varieties to Provence. The Great Wine Blight almost destroyed the wine industry in the late 19th century, but slowly, the region recovered to become one of the top wine-producing regions in the world.

Provence has nine appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) (or appellation d’origine protégée, AOP). The AOC/AOP label guarantees that all stages of wine production occur in a specific area. Each AOC in Provence produces delicious yet different wines depending on the varieties of grapes and the winemaking methods. Read more about the wine regions of Provence.

Drink Provence Rosé Wine


Bandol AOC produces some of the best wines in Provence – especially the rich, full-bodied Mourvèdre varieties. Although the AOC is named after the town of Bandol, it includes eight communes and has about 1,500 hectares of vineyards. The vineyards and wineries are in the countryside on the slopes of the Massif de la Sainte-Baume. The hill creates a natural amphitheatre to protect the vineyards from the Mistral winds. Along with limestone soil and plenty of sun, this region has an ideal climate for producing white, rosé, and red wines. However, for a wine to earn the Bandol AOC label, the red and rosé blends must contain at least 50% Mourvèdre grapes.

Read more about Bandol AOP

Les Baux de Provence

Located in the heart of the Alpilles mountain range, Les Baux-de-Provence was granted AOC status in 1995. The region experiences a typical Mediterranean climate of hot, dry summers, mild winters, and Mistral winds. These factors and the limestone soils in the area create an ideal environment for growing grapes. Additionally, all the vineyards in Les Baux de Provence adhere to organic viticulture practices to preserve and support the biodiversity in the Alpilles.

Visitors exploring the picturesque Alpilles will enjoy visiting the wineries in the AOC Les Baux-de-Provence for tours and tastings. Interestingly, women own or manage several wineries in Les Baux de Provence, which is unique in this traditionally male-dominated industry.

Most wines produced in this region are reds and rosés comprised of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache grapes, although other varieties are added to blends. Cinsault grapes are generally used to produce the rosé wines. White wines from this region have become more common recently and are as delicious as the popular reds and rosés.

Read more about Les Baux de Provence AOP


Bellet is one of the smallest wine regions of Provence, and it was the first to receive the AOP status in Provence (1941). This appellation is unique because the vineyards of Bellet are within the city limits of Nice. Located between the city on the coast and the foothills of the Southern Alps, it’s a perfect microclimate for grape growing. This area produces several uncommon varietal wines and is the only AOC in Provence permitted to use Chardonnay grapes. However, it is famous for its rosé wines with a rose petal fragrance.

Read more about Bellet AOP


Of all the wine regions in Provence, Cassis AOC is often considered the most beautiful. It is a short drive east of Marseille, located along the Mediterranean coast between calanques (small coastal fjords with tall cliffs). It is said that ancient Romans planted vines on the sunny slopes beside the town over 2600 years ago. The entire region is now part of the Calanques National Park.

Unfortunately, the Great Wine Blight almost decimated the industry in the 19th century, but it recovered well and now produces some of the best white wines in the world. The varietals planted after the blight (Marsanne and Clairette) produce dry wines with mineral notes due to the rocky limestone soil. Cassis AOC white wines tend to have citrus, dried herbs, peach, and honey fragrances. They pair well with fish, seafood, and vegetarian dishes.

Read more about Cassis AOP

Cap Canaille from Cassis

Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence

AOP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence received its designation in 1985. It is the second-largest appellation in Provence and the furthest west. The region is named after Aix-en-Provence but comprises 49 towns dispersed among the vineyards. Although it has a typical Mediterranean climate of long, dry summers, spring and fall storms bring significant rainfall in those seasons. However, the Mistral winds dry the soil relatively quickly, which prevents the vines from fungal rot.

In this appellation, rosé is the predominant wine (86%). Red wines comprise only about 8% of production, while white wines comprise 6%. AOP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence wine blends must contain at least 50% of the main varietals. The region produces dry wines (4g sugar/L). However, the rosés are considered light, fruity, and floral, while the reds are balanced with floral notes that evolve into richer flavours on aging. Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence white wines tend to be fresh, fruity, and floral.

Read more about AOP Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence

Chateau la Coste Provence Wines

Coteaux Varois-en-Provence

AOP Coteaux Varois-en-Provence is surrounded by mountains, Sainte-Baume to the west, Bessillons to the north and Barres de Cuers to the south. As a result, the vineyards, each nestled in a valley area, produce wine that reflects the local microclimate. Generally, this area experiences fairly hot summers and colder winters, but the spring and fall are mild.

The rosé and red wines are made with Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah, the typical grape varieties in Provence. The rosés tend to be clear, pale salmon coloured, with citrus, tropical fruit, and red fruit flavours. The reds range in colour from garnet to ruby, with tasting notes of dark red fruit and spices.

The principal grapes for white wine production include Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rolle, Sémillon and Ugni Blanc. The white wines range are generally pale yellow, and some have greenish highlights. Their flavours include yellow and exotic fruit, with floral and even menthol-like notes.

Read more about Coteaux Varois-en-Provence AOP

Provence Rose Wine

Côtes de Provence

Côtes de Provence is the largest appellation in Provence, covering over 20,000 hectares over 84 communes in three departments: the Var, the Bouches-du-Rhône, and one village in the Alpes-Maritimes. Because of its size, it is divided into four sub-regions and eight different production zones, each yielding wines with distinct characteristics.

This appellation produces 92% rosé wine and only 4% each of red and white wines. Almost 50% is organically produced. The main red grape varieties are Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre Syrah, and Tibouren. The principal white varieties include Clairette, Rolle, Semillon, and Ugni Blanc. The vineyards must plant a specific percentage of the principal grape varieties used in production (encépagement) to meet the AOC/AOP criteria. Additionally, some AOC/AOP regulations require vintners to use a specific percentage of varieties in blends (assemblage).

Côtes de Provence’s wines are well known worldwide for their high quality – especially the rosés. Generally, Côtes de Provence rosé wines are varied in colour, nose, and palette of wines, which means you can pair these wines with many dishes.

Read more about Côtes de Provence AOP

Domaine des Sarrins

©Domaine des Sarrins


Just to the southeast of Aix-en-Provence, you’ll find the AOP Palette. The appellation is named after the small town of Palette, located in the commune of Le Tholonet, home of post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne.

Situated at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire, the vineyards in the valleys are exposed to hot summers moderated by cool Mediterranean breezes. This creates a unique microclimate. As a result, the wines are quite different from others in Provence – and arguably some of the best wines in France.

There are four prominent wineries in AOC Palette. They produce aromatic white wines, fruity rosés, and red wines that age very well. The principal grape varieties include Cinsaut, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah for the reds and rosés, and Araignan, Bourboulenc, and Clairette for the whites. Interestingly, Terret Gris, a secondary variety, can be used in all three types of wine but must not make up more than 20% of white wine. The grapes are handpicked, and vinification takes place within the AOC.

Read more about Palette AOC

Mont St Victoire Provence


Within the wine regions of Provence, Pierrevert received its AOC designation relatively recently in 1998 and its AOP in 2011. With vineyards at altitudes of over 450m, this appellation is the highest in France. Nestled next to the Parc naturel régional du Luberon, Pierrevert is the wine-growing capital of the Alpes de Haute Provence.

Due to its elevation, this region experiences harsher winters, more rainfall and frequent frosts than the rest of Provence. However, the local wineries produce excellent wines. Most wines are rosé (60%), with about 25%-30% red wines. White wines make up the balance. Interestingly, at least 50% of the rosé wine in this region must be made using the “saignée” method.

Known for their smoothness, Pierrevert wines have notes of blackberries and currents. The rosés are fresh with citrus notes, and the whites have subtle citrus flavours too. Rarely marketed outside France, visiting the Pierrevert region is the best way to enjoy these wines.

Read more about Pierrevert AOP

The wine regions of Provence offer something for everyone. Whether you’re an experienced oenophile or simply seeking a sensory journey through the flavours of Provence, these appellations d’origine controllée promise sensory delights that will entice you into returning again and again.

Grape Vines in Provence

Wine Reference Articles

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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