Côte d'Azur tourisme antilles reservation hotel hotel reservation worldwide
Riviera websites

"Give me a bowl of wine. In this I bury all unkindness." Shakespeare. Richard III.


Let's dispel one rumour forever. Rosé is not a recent product of the vintner's art. Neither is it a mixture of red and white grapes. Rosé in fact is one of the earliest wines ever made and even today is probably one of the most difficult.

A Vintner will tell you that the colour is dictated by the length of time that the grapejuice and the grape skin are in contact with each other. And that's the rub! The art of making an acceptable rosé lies in knowing how long this marriage between juice and skin should be maintained. The procedure is complicated by the fact that each variety of grape has different characteristics, and so the time required for the union between grape and juice varies.

Rosé wine is especially treasured if it is grown on the Côte d'Azur because the ambient temperature as well as the special kind of soil is ideal for its production.

"From wine what sudden friendship springs." John Gay. Fables.


Only vineyards chosen by a government commission have the right to use the name Côte de Provence, although, strangely, not all wines bearing this official name are grown in Provence alone. Some of these wines are light and fruity, others are rich in aroma, still others are robust, but they all have one thing in common: they are grown in a special kind of soil which must be in humus, permeable and stony.

Such soil abounds in the general area of the Côte d'Azur , which a benevolent Diety could well have prepared especially for this purpose, because it is not only the soil that is important but also the ambient temperature which is ideally found here. The winters are mild - scarcely any frost, rainfall alternating with hot sun in Spring to bring out the buds and flowers, and long hot summers with little wind to allow the grapes to mature.

The French government imposes very strict rules about the cultivation of quality wines, and the best of them carry the seal of approval - AOC (Appellation d'Origin Contrôlèe).

France generally has excellent weather for wine growing - unlike Britain - and a well-deserved reputation for it too, but undoubtedly the area with the best all-year-round weather is the Côte d'Azur. Perhaps that is why some expert Vintners from Bordeaux and elsewhere find themselves being lured to the area - the reliable weather and, who knows, higher salaries.

Although it could be said that Rosé is a speciality of the Riviera, an astonishing array of very good red wines are produced there also - perhaps 33% of the total wine production. White wines, golden in colour and with great aromatic qualities are produced with pride, although in much lesser quantity.

Visitors to the Riviera should not hesitate to try the local wines, especially the Rosés they are generally cheap - certainly cheaper than elsewhere - and are good value for the money. One golden rule is always to taste, (degustation de vins sur place) if you can, the wine before you buy it. This is positively encouraged if you visit one or two of the hundreds of private vineyards around the Côte d'Azur, and that is something you just can't do if you buy your wine in a supermarket. Don't be in a hurry. A day spent visiting the vineyards of the Côte de Provence, to experience the hospitality of the Vintners, will pay rich dividends. You'll probably learn something you didn't know about quality wines too. . . .

Did you know that an important wine event takes place every year in November? It's called the Route du Rosé and it takes the form of coachmen and passengers arriving in traditional drays drawn by shire horses. Coming from a wide area and travelling for up to three days they collect and taste the rosé wines from the vineyards along their route. In St Tropez the procession is led down to the harbour by a troupe of gaily-dressed dancers, and these are traditionally followed by officials dressed in the robes of the Chevaliers de Meduse - an order created in 1660 by the French king.

The rosé wine is loaded into the sailing ships, each ship having in its holds cases of wine from twelve different châteaux and domaines that make up the Amis de la Route du Rosé. It should not be supposed that these ships sail without also taking some parts in the celebrations, and in fact persistent rumours abound that up to 3000 bottles of Vin rosé are broached before the tall ships eventually depart with their precious cargoes for the West Indies.

Created, composed, constructed and caressed by vr@i 1995