Domaine des Féraud
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Wine & Provence: a long history

With the agreement of its author Isabelle Bono, we have chosen and translated this article published in 2019 to illustrate the history of Provence wine:

« Provence, the roots of rosé wine...

...We still sometimes hear the myth that rosé is a blend of white and red wine. Yet this method is prohibited, except in Champagne for their magnificent rosé sparkling wines. By plunging us into the history of wine, we discover that red wine did not exist in the past! In Provence, as elsewhere, only white and rosé wines were produced.

Indeed, in ancient times, the juice was extracted as soon as the crushing was finished and there was no time to be coloured by the skins of the black grapes before being stored in amphoras. For thousands of years, the wine therefore did not go beyond the rosé colour. The history of the vine is linked to that of the Mediterranean basin, where it was already growing more than a million years ago. Trade and invasion then spread the knowledge of « clear» wine all around the Mediterranean. As early as 600 B.C., the Phocaeans brought the culture of it in their holds when they founded Marseille. Later, at the beginning of the Christian era, the extension of the Roman Empire would spread wine-growing in Gaul, Spain and as far as the northern regions. A wine will remain rosé for a long time. Even the archives of Bordeaux show that 87% of the wine produced in the Middle Ages was « claret », compared to barely 13% of red and anecdotal white.

Red wines only developed in the Bordeaux region from the end of the 17th century onwards. The other wine-growing regions followed suit in order to meet the desires of the European aristocracy and also supply workers under the belief that the darker the colour the more nourishment and strength it would bring! 

The only terroir to resist and remain faithful to its original rosé wines was our beautiful Provence. Exporting them little, the revolution of paid holidays as of 1936 would change the destiny of its wines. The great summer migrations of holidaymakers to the Mediterranean coast immediately associated rosé wine with festive summers, relaxation and pleasure. Since then, rosé has earned its letters of nobility by improving a little more each year with the unique know-how of its passionate wine-growers.

History has also built up an exceptional terroir. First crossing the Hercynian massif, of which the Massif des Maures  is one of the vestiges, the sea invaded Provence 300 million years ago. It deposited thick limestone layers of plankton and shells of the time there, which are so much to the liking of today's vines. Then, a hundred million years ago, the African and Eurasian tectonic plates raised mountains from the Alps to the Pyrenees. The sea then freed Provence from its waters. These limestone mountains and barriers create microclimates and sculpt the landscape which since Antiquity wine-growers have tamed to dry stone terraces. Since then, vines have never stopped growing in Provence...and the rosé wine has never stopped flowing.»


L'Appellation Côtes de Provence

The wine-growing region of Côtes de Provence, declared a region of “Appellation d’Origine Côntrolée “ on 24th October 1977, is by far the largest area of origin in South East France. Approximately 20,000 hectares are entitled to an AOC label; the area extends throughout the Var, the Alpes-Maritimes and the Bouches-du-Rhône. The majority of the vineyards are to be found in the Var. Here, in the heart of the Provence, near Vidauban, you will find Domaine des Féraud.

Adjacent, in the West, you will find the Appellations of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence and Palette; at the Mediterranean coast, east of Marseille, the small Appellations of Cassis and Bandol; near Nice, the Appellation of Bellet.

90% of the Côte de Provence production is rosé wine. With approximately 130 million bottles, Provence is by far the largest producer of rosé wines in France, accounting for 40% of French production and 6% of worldwide production. Good 6,5% of the wine production in the Provence is for red wines and about 3,5% for white wines.


Climate and Soil

Wine growing in the Côtes de Provence area directly benefits from the mild climate near the sea. The fierce mistral, which blows 150 days a year, regularly provides dry air coming from inland and helps keep away diseases. The mistral also blows the clouds away thus allowing the sun to shine for more than 3,000 hours a year - that's a French record! The generally stony soils of the wine region are able to store this heat optimally.

The average monthly rainfall of 600 mm distributed over autumn and spring ensures for good recovery of the vineyards in winter and plant growth in the spring. The vines benefit from early flowering and the hot summer which ensures full ripening of the berries. Chaptalisation (sugaring) the must is therefore not only forbidden, for the winemakers of Provence it is a foreign word.

The vines of the Appellation Côtes de Provence generally grow on very lean, well-drained, stony soils – by and large ideal conditions for good wines. Although that said, two fundamentally different soil types do occur in the Provence. Clay-limestone soils in the north and very old massifs of shale rock in the south, near the sea.