Provençal wines

In around 600 BC, the Greeks founded Marseilles and planted the first vine stock on the hillsides there. From that date, viticulture and winemaking spread throughout Provence. It was not until the Roman conquest that winemaking moved up the Rhone Valley, from where it spread across what would later become France. The wines made during this epoch were light and rose-coloured, since the grapes’ skins and pulp were not yet macerated.

A complex geologic history

The geologic history of Provence can be divided into four main periods:

  • In the Paleozoic Era, a vast mountainous area was formed, made up of crystalline rock. This ground played host to rather intense volcanic activity in the east, near what is now the Massif de l’Estérel.
 
   
 

Côtes de Provence aoc: geographic and geological situation

The Côtes de Provence appellation’s production area extends across three départements, the Var, Bouches-du-Rhône and a small part of the Alpes Maritimes, and a total of 84 municipalities. This area measures 20,500 hectares.

The terroir of the Côtes de Provence appellation has a complex geology, since it contains both limestone (North and East), crystalline rock (South and West), volcanic soils in the extreme east around Fréjus.

The overall climate is Mediterranean, but there are considerable differences depending on the relief and the maritime influence.

The Pierrefeu designation was a natural match for the Côtes de Provence appellation. In a decree published in the Official Journal on 7 March, Pierrefeu became the 4th designation to bear the Côtes de Provence appellation. Starting with the 2013 vintage, these wines will bear the text ‘AOC Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu’ on their labels.

 
 

The climate

Provençal vineyards are conditioned by their climate, which is characterised by low rainfall and the mistral, the strong north wind that purifies the atmosphere and limits parasites.
For these reasons, planting density (2.5 m’ per vine) is suited to the soil’s moisture potential.

The vines are pruned short, generally using the double cordon technique, to ensure even distribution of the bunches in the fruit-bearing zone and limited production, which guarantees the products’ concentration.

Finally, due to the Mediterranean climate, the soils are very low in organic matter, a characteristic specific to the Provençal terroir. A large majority of the vineyard is treated with organic manure from sheep farms in La Crau, in Bouches-du-Rhône, near the vineyard.

 
 

Vineyards

The Château la Gordonne is one of the largest properties in Provence with over 350 hectares, 300 of which are vines. The Pierrefeu terroir in the Massif des Maures is an exceptional site. In its beautiful setting within a natural schist crater, the Château La Gordonne vineyard enjoys a very special microclimate. Its winters are mild and the summers are hot and dry, sometimes scorching, which means that the vines can soak up all the strength of the Provençal sun, with 3,000 hours of sunshine a year.

The Mistral, a dry, strong wind, plays a major role as it sweeps across the plantations, protecting the vines from damp-related diseases. The vines are grown on a limestone and clay plain and on the schist slopes. The soil has little humus and is permeable, shallow, stony and well-drained, bringing together the ideal conditions for the vines to flourish.

A wide range of varietals typical to Provence can be found at our estate. These include Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mourvèdre, Tibouren, Rolle, and Sémillon. These noble varietals allow us to produce rosé, white and red wines, all with the AOC Côtes de Provence appellation.

 
   
 

Varietals

Our estate grows the typical Provençal varietals that are used in making our red, white and rosé Côtes de Provence:

• Grenache
• Tibouren
• Cinsault
• Syrah
• Cabernet-Sauvignon
• Mourvèdre
• Rolle
• Sémillon

 

Champagne

Provence

Camargue

Portugal

Sparkling Wine

 

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