Provence is well known for its rosé wines. However, you would be missing out if you haven’t tried the region’s red and white wines. Two of the flagship AOCs of Provence; Cassis and Bandol are producing some outstanding white and red wines. I tasted a Bandol blanc Clairette blend paired with halibut with Meyer lemon and olive salsa. While I am miles away from Provence, the bright, fresh flavors of the wine and halibut transported me to the Mediterranean coast of Bandol.
This month the French Winophiles are traveling (virtually) to the southern French wine growing region of Provence. Join our conversation on Twitter Saturday, February 16th at 11:00 am ET using hashtag #winophiles. Explore Provence further with my fellow winophiles and their blog posts at the bottom of this post.
Provence is the oldest wine growing region in France with a Mediterranean climate of 3000 average sunshine hours a year, 27 inches of average annual rainfall, cool evenings, and the famous “Mistral” wind that all combine make it an ideal grape growing region.
The nine main wine growing regions or AOCs of Provence
Côtes de Provence – The largest AOC in Provence, accounting for 75% of all the wine production (89% is rosé).
Coteaux d’ Aix en Provence – The second largest by size, producing mostly rosé.
Coteaux Varois de Provence – Located in the middle of Provence with rosé being the dominant variety. Noted for its higher vineyard altitudes and limestone soils, resulting in wines with higher acidity, structure, and more complex flavors.
Les Baux de Provence – Known as the warmest AOC with rugged terrain. Thanks to the Mistral wind that helps keep rot at bay. This AOC is also recognized for its biodynamic and organic viticulture.
Cassis – The first AOC of Provence (1936). It is located along the steep limestone cliffs of the Mediterranean coast, east of Marseille. Known for its white wines made with Marsanne and Clairette as the principle grape varieties.
Bandol – One of the flagship AOCs of Provence. The signature grape varietal of this AOC is Mourvedre, but also producing some stunning whites from Clairette blended with Ugni Blanc and Bourbouene.
Palette – The smallest AOC of Provence with just 100 acres. 25 different grape varietals are grown here, all hand harvested with specific blending regulations, and aging requirements.
Bellet – The vineyards here are located on steep hillsides surrounding Nice. Known for growing some of the more obscure grape varietals. It is the only AOC in Provence allowed to use Chardonnay.
Pierrevert – The newest AOC addition to Provence (1998) and also the most northerly location. Producing red, white and rosé wines with a Rhone-style influence.
The Main white Grape Varietals of Provence
- Rolle (aka Vermentino)
- Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano)
- Grenache Blanc
The Main Red Grape Varietals of Provence
- Grenache Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- More obscure Provence red varietals; Tibouren, Braquet, Calitour, Folle Noir, and Barbaroux
2016 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol Blanc, Provence France
13% abv | $39 wine.com | Clairette, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc
Domaine de Terrebrune was established in 1963 when George Delille, a trained sommelier in Paris, purchased vineyards in Ollioules, just east of Bandol. Delille spent ten years renovating the property and following advice from Lucien Peyraud, of Domaine Tempier. In 1980, his son Reynald joined him after finishing winemaking school, together they bottled their first vintage of Domaine de Terrebrune, named for the rich brown soils of the estate. The 30-hectare estate is organically farmed, all grapes are hand harvested, and only indigenous yeasts are used.
Soils: limestone pebbles in brown clay, blue limestone bedrock, marl
Fermentation: low temperatures and malolactic fermentation
Aging: 6-8 months in barrels
Medium gold in color. Medium bodied with fresh medium acidity. On the palate citrus, herbs, fennel, and minerals. Lingering finish with a slight bitterness.
Halibut with Meyer Lemon Olive Salsa served on a bed of arugula, fennel, and herbs is an ideal pairing with the Bandol Blanc. Seafood is a natural pairing with this Mediterranean Bandol Blanc echoing the salinity of the sea. The citrusy Meyer lemon and olive salsa, fennel, and herb salad are all linked to the flavors found in the wine. A bright, refreshing dish that matches those same elements in the wine.
Halibut with Meyer Lemon Olive Salsa
- 4 5 oz. Alaskan Halibut fillets
- 1 Meyer lemon, zested
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley leaves, sliced
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 cup arugula
- 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 1/4 scant cup tarragon leaves
- 1/4 scant cup chives. 1/2-inch snipped
- 1/4 cup small mint leaves
- 1/4 cup basil leaves
- Meyer lemon olive salsa, recipe follows
- kosher salt and frehsly ground black pepper
- Season the halibut with lemon zest, thyme, and parsley. Place in a glass dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Remove the halibut from the refrigerator 15 minutes before cooking to come to room temperature. Season the halibut with salt and pepper.
- In a large frying pan heat the two tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Carefully lay the fish in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until browned. Turn the fish over and reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.
- While the fish is cooking, in a medium bowl, toss together the arugula, fennel, and herbs. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive over the salad and season with salt and pepper.
- To Serve: arrange the salad on a platter and place the halibut fillets on top. Spoon some of the Meyer lemon olive salsa over the fish.
MeyerLemon Olive Salsa
- 2 tablespoons shallots, finely diced
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 2 Meyer lemons
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3/4 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, sliced
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a small bowl, combine shallots, vinegar, and a good pinch of kosher salt. Sit aside for 5 minutes.
- Slice off the ends of the Meyer lemon. Stand the lemons at one end and cut them vertically into 1/8-inch slices. Cut each slice lengthwise into strips and then cut into 1/8-inch size cubes.
- Add the diced lemon to the shallots. Add the honey, olives, parsley, a few grindings of pepper, and the olive oil. Stir to combine and adjust for seasoning.
More blog posts on the wines of Provence from my fellow French Winophiles
This month’s French Winophiles was sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange. They provided some of our members with a copy of “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. You can find Blue Vase Book Exchange on Amazon and on Facebook.
- “A Book, An Inspired Braise, and A (Surprise!) Bottle of Red from Provençe” by Culinary Adventureswith Camilla.
- “At Last! A Provencal Rouge-2006 Domaine La Bastide Blanche Bandol” by Enofylz Wine Blog
- “Beef Daube Provençal with Bandol Red Wine” by Cooking Chat
- “Bellet: Provence’s Urban Appellation” by L’Occasion
- “Blanc de Bellet: Like a Bouquet of Spring Flowers!” by Keep the Peas
- “Curled up with a Bandol and a book.” by Crushed Grape Chronicles
- “Dreaming of Provence with a Rabbit Lasagna and a Clos Cibbone” by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- “Halibut with Meyer Lemon Olive Salsa and Bandol Blanc” by Always Ravenous
- “Lamb Shanks Provençal with Les Baux de Provence and Cassis” by Food Wine Click
- “Pissaladiere and a Provence Red” by Our Good Life
- “Provence: Beyond Rosé” by Kate’s Recipe Box
- “Provence: Viewing the World Through Rose Wine Glasses” by Side Hustle Wino
- “Say Oui to a Glass of Provence Rose and Succulent Seafood” by Chinese Food & Wine Pairings
- “With Love From Provence. A Biodynamic Red and a Kosher Rose with Tritip, Quiche,
Soup, Salad” by WinePredator