When you think of Provence wines, you might instantly think of rosé; after all, 75% of the region’s production is rosé. Then you may picture the Mediterranean coastline and the almost 3000 hours of annual sunshine. But Provence is not all rosé and sunshine. The Mistral, a strong, cold northwesterly wind, can blow up to 150 days across the Provence region. It is the strongest in the winter and spring, with winds ranging from 60 to 110 miles per hour. When these cold Mistral winds blow, hearty fare like Provencal Braised Beef (known locally as Beef Daube) paired with a Bandol Rouge is a classic winter combination.
This month the French Winophiles are exploring the red wines of Provence. Join us for our Twitter chat, Saturday, February 20th, 2021, at 11:00 AM ET (using hashtag #winophiles). Don’t miss more articles from the Winophiles at the bottom of this post).
Provence is located along the southeast Mediterranean coast of France, bordering the Rhone River to the west and the Côte d’ Azur on the east. The most mountainous region is in the east, Southwest Provence near Arles and Marseille is flatter, and the Rhône Delta known as the Camargue to the west is an extensive salt marsh.
Nine Main Provence Wine Regions known as AOCs (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée)
Cote de Provence AOC
– the largest appellation in Provence
– accounts for 75% of all production; 90% is rosé, 7% red, and 3% white
Coteaux d’ Aix en Provence AOC
– second-largest appellation in Provence
– 84% rosé, 11% red, and 5% white wines
– significantly impacted by the Mistral winds
Coteaux Varois de Provence
– protected by limestone hills and mountains
– production is 88% rosé
Les Baux de Provence
– 41% of the growers farm organically or biodynamically
– produces mainly red wines; 57% red, 39% rosé, and 4% white
– first AOC of Provence
– known for white wines; Marsanne and Clairette are the main varieties
– 67% white wines, 30% rosé, and 3% red
– one of the oldest vine-growing regions in Provence
– hillside vineyards form a natural amphitheater
– Mourvèdre is the regions signature grape variety
– 60% rosé, 30% red, and 10% white wines
– the smallest AOC in Provence
– over 25 grape varietals are grown here
– 44% red wines, 37% white, and 19% rosé
– Mourvèdre is the main grape varietal in the red and rosé wines
– this appellation surrounds Nice
– does not allow any Bordeaux grape varieties
– the only Provence AOC to allow Chardonnay
– equal proportions of white, rosé and reds are produced
– the region’s newest AOC (1998)
– 60% rosé, 30% red, and 10% white wines
– the average altitude of the area is 1500 feet, with strong alpine influences
– the style of wines produced here are similar to the Rhône Valley
– no red Bordeaux grape varieties are permitted here
Sources Used: Wine Scholar Guild, Wine Folly, and “The Wine Bible,” Karen MacNeil
My Wine Tasting Notes
2017 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge
14% abv | $36.00 375ml Kermit Lynch | 75% Mourvèdre, 14% Grenache, 9% Cinsault, 2% Carignan
- All grapes are harvested by hand
- After de-stemming, grapes are fermented with natural yeast and vinified for 2 to 3 weeks in stainless steel
- After maceration is finished and must is pressed, the wine is moved to oak foudres for malolactic fermentation
- Aged in oak foudres (25 to 50 hl) for 18 to 20 months
- Bottled unfined and unfiltered
(from Kermit Lynch)
Deep ruby in color. Aromas of black fruit, spice, herbs, and leather. On the palate, dry with medium(+) body, medium tannins, and acidity. Flavors of blackberries, cherry, raspberry, and herbs.
2017 Domaine du Gros’ Nore’ Bandol
14.5% abv | $53.00 Kermit Lynch | 80% Mourvèdre, 15% Grenache, 5% Cinsault
- Grapes are partially de-stemmed
- Grapes are vinified separately
- Fermentation in stainless steel for 3 weeks, pumpovers twice a day
- Aged in foudre for 18 months
(from Kermit Lynch)
Deep ruby in color. Aromas of black fruit, leather, and herbs. On the palate, dry with full bold body, medium(+) tannins, and acidity. Flavor notes of blackberry, black raspberry, cherry, herbs, spices, and gaminess.
Provencal braised beef or beef daube is a slow-braised beef stew. The hearty dish is a natural pairing with the full-bodied red wines of Bandol. The tender beef tames the tannins in the wine, and the thyme and rosemary in the stew are echoed in the flavors of the wine.
A winter salad with seasonal greens, fennel, cheese, and oranges is a welcome side dish to the Provencal braised beef, adding freshness and crunch to the meal.
- Fine sea salt
- 1 + teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Extra pepper for seasoning.
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 4 lbs. boneless beef stew meat, cut into 2-inch size pieces I used top round and short rib meat for more flavor and texture
- 5 + tablespoons extra virgin olive oil You may need more olive oil when searing the beef if the pan gets too dry.
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bottle hearty dry red wine
- 1 qt. low sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 lb. shallots, sliced 1/8-inch thick
- 1 orange, finely grated zest
- 1 cup Picholine olives, pitted
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 lb. pasta for serving I used Seggiano Toscani organic pasta from Whole Foods or use a penne pasta shape.
- Flaky sea salt
In a large bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of fine sea salt, black pepper, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Add the beef stew pieces and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 two hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 F
In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches and sear until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Use tongs to transfer browned beef to a platter. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining beef.
Add the wine to the dutch oven and scrap up any brown bits. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, and browned beef with the juices. Bring to a simmer, then cover the pot and bake for 2 -1/2 hours.
After 2-1/2 hours, add the shallots, olives, and orange zest to the pot, stir gently to mix. Cover and bake for another hour.
Transfer the meat, shallots, olives, and orange zest to a large bowl and cover. Leaving the sauce in the pot. In the mean time, boil the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta well removing any excess water. Add the pasta to the sauce, stir to mix and coat the pasta. Let the pasta absorb the sauce for a few minutes.
To serve; In an individual shallow soup bowl add some pasta and top with some of the meat, shallots, olives, and orange zest. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
A winter side salad to a hearty dish like Braised Beef with pasta.
- 4 small heads little gem lettuce, washed
- 1/4 lb. radicchio, washed
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 + teaspoon salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup celery hearts, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons shallots, finely minced
- 3/4 cup fennel, thinly shaved
- 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, thinly shaved pieces
- 1/2 cup orange segments
In a small jar, add the olive oil, vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper. Shake well to combine.
In a large shallow salad bowl, add the lettuce and radicchio torn into bite size pieces. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten the lettuce. Toss in the celery, shallots, fennel, cheese, and orange segments. Add more vinaigrette and seasoning to your taste.
More articles on red wines of Provence from the French Winophiles
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla presents Provençal Pork Stew + Clos Cibonne Cuvee Speciale Rouge 2019.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Beef Daube Provencal with a Bandol Rouge.
- Payal at Keep the Peas serves A Bandol Red and Lamb Biryani.
- Jane of Always Ravenous showcases Provencal Braised Beef with Bandol Rouge.
- Lynn over at Savor the Harvest offers Winning Red Wines from Provence with Lamb Meatballs: Domaine Hauvette and Clos Cibonne.
- Susannah from Avvinare tells us how Beef Stew and A Glass of Bandol Rouge Warms the Heart.
- Jeff of Food Wine Click! shares Provençal Memories and Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge.
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator posts The Magique of Provence.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles writes Bandol Rouge – An Elegant and Wild Provençe Red Wine from Château Ste. Anne.
- Cathie of Side Hustle Wino offers Off the Beaten Path in Provence.
- Melanie at Wining with Mel shares Rosés are Red? Love for Provence’s Big Red Wines and Château Calissanne