French Riviera Secrets

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French Riviera Wines

The Côte d'Azur and the Provence are home to a number of very well known wines: think for example of Côtes the Provence, Bandol and Cassis.
The Mediterranean climate, with its abundant sunshine, sufficient rain in winter and spring, very dry in summer, is ideal for growing vines.
Which may, in fact, leave some people to wonder why the Provence has not come up with more internationnally renowned wines, and why instead one associates Provencal wines mostly with rosés. In recent years there has been more focus on producing quality red wines, which is in part due to foreign buyers becoming owners of some vineyards.


Côtes the Provence

Château de Berne, Lorgues Château de Berne, Lorgues

The largest wine region is called Côtes the Provence, located roughly between Toulon and Fréjus. Wine from this region will carry the label "Appelation d'origine Côtes the Provence". Because of the relatively large differences within this region, in terms of soil, exposure to sun, rainfail etc., quality and taste of wines from this region can vary significantly, and are therefore typically better known and distinguished by individual vineyards. The main grape varietes used in this region are Grenache and Carignan, which produce the bulk of the rosé wine. Red wines are based on the Syrah, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Mourvèdre grapes.
Grapes used for the few white wines produced here are Clairette and Ugni Blanc; the better whites are made from the Bourboulenc, Rolle, Sémillon and Sauvignon grapes.


Bandol

Mourvèdre grape Mourvèdre grape

A much smaller, but equally well-known region is that of Bandol.
Bandol is a small coastal town, just about half way between Toulon and Marseille. Most of the Bandol wine is red, and for a red wine to be called Bandol, at a minimum 50% of the grapes it is made from need to be Mourvèdre; the remainder of the grapes are usually Syrah and Grenache. Bandol red wine also needs to mature for at least 18 months in oak barrels, before it can be sold. The resulting wines can be of excellent quality, dinstinctly Bandol and can age for up to 20 years.
More on Bandol wines can be found on www.vinsdebandol.com.


Examples of local wine producers

Abbaye de Lerins, Ile de Saint-Honorat Abbaye de Lerins, Ile de Saint-Honorat

The monks living in the Abbaye de Lerins produce a number of wines from locally grown vines, on Ile de Saint-Honorat. 20mins by boat from Cannes, visitors can taste and buy these excellent wines.

Château de Berne, Lorgues Château de Berne, Lorgues

Deep in the undulating hills of the Var département, near the village of Lorgues, lies Château de Berne. Some excellent rosés and reds are produced here, bearing the appelation d'origine of Còte de Provence, from the Cinsault and Grenache grape varietes.
The château frequently organises wine tasting events and has 5 star accomodation on-site (see also their website Château de Berne)

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