Terroir Influences Grapes Provence’s Biodiversity
The United Nations established International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) on December 29, 1993. The date was later changed to May 22nd so that end-of-year celebrations do not impact the participating countries. There is a theme associated with the date each year, such as “Our solutions are in nature” in 2020.
This article “Celebrating Provence’s Biodiversity” first appeared on Michèle Foster’s Think Pink Blog.
May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity. This is a great occasion to take a moment to relax, pour ourselves a glass of chilled rosé, and celebrate the incredible biodiversity of the Provence wine region.
Many Grape Varietals
Provence is one of France’s most diverse winemaking regions, and I would say in the world. There are 14 different grape varieties permitted for rosés in Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence alone. If you count up all the grape varieties permitted for reds, whites and rosés in all nine AOP Provence appellations, there are 43 varieties permitted!
The most diverse Provence wine appellation in terms of how many different grape varieties are permitted in its wines is a tiny little appellation you may not have heard of: Palette. It’s near Aix-en-Provence, and the whole appellation spans only 1.5 hectares. To put that in perspective, the average vineyard in Provence is between 11 and 16 hectares, and by world standards, that is considered fairly small. But the entire Palette appellation is only 1.5 hectares! There are only three producers with plots inside this appellation. Given its size, it doesn’t make very much wine, so if you want to taste it, you’ll have to come to Provence to get some. Altogether between the reds, rosés and whites, Palette allows a whopping 30 different grape varieties to be used!
One of the reasons Provence has such a diverse planting of grapevines is that it is one of the world’s oldest winemaking regions. The Phoenicians planted the first grapevines here in 600 BC, and Provence was the first winemaking region in France. Throughout history, Provence has been populated by different people groups who planted different grapevines. Some of the grape varieties used in Provence today are ancient varieties that are all but obsolete elsewhere.
Provence is so diverse because of the varied terroir – simply put, a lot of different grape varieties grow well here. We have the Mediterranean coast, the Southern Alps, and everything in between. As a result, we have a wide variety of different soil types, like clay, limestone, gravel, sedimentary rock, sand, and schist.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate biodiversity than to enjoy a chilled glass of Provence rosé. Cheers!
About Michèle Foster
Michèle Foster is the creator of Solière rosé, an estate-grown AOP rosé from Provence. Her passion for both Provence and rosé began when she moved to the region in 2007. Originally from Texas, Michèle has lived in Provence for 13 years. Passionate about Provence wines, she exports these drops of joy to the United States and offers an on-demand online course about Provence rosé.