The Coteaux Varois appellation of Provence is noteworthy and underrated. Located completely inland, it is a midsized appellation neither as large as Côtes de Provence nor as small as Bandol. It is situated between the two largest Provence appellations, Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence. Known for its unusual, cool inland climate, which bears some similarity to that of southern Burgundy, the appellation makes mostly rosé wine.
Coteaux Varois is one of the most recent Provence appellations, having been officially designated only in 1993.
Climate and Viticulture
The dark horse of Provence appellations when it comes to climate, Coteaux Varois is surrounded by a large mountain range, which blocks the influence of the Mediterranean Sea and, considering that there is no shoreline acreage, makes Coteaux Varois effectively an inland appellation. The weather is cool, and the soil is chalky, factors which stand in contrast to the warm limestone hills of the neighboring regions. Due to this distinctive climate, some experts have speculated that Burgundy-style wines should be grown here.
Grapes currently used in rosé and red wine production include Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, Grenache, and Carignan. There are some plantings of international grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is mostly in the experimental stage now.
Chardonnay is being experimented with in the region, but it is doubtful that the soil will be satisfactory. As of now, the main white grape of the region is Clairette.
Here is a list of three producers whose wines are both very good and commonly exported.
- Château Calisse: All three colors of wine are made here. The red has smoky, thick red fruit flavors as well as chunky earthiness; the rosé is floral and intelligent with zesty flavors. The white is intense but not particularly rounded or complex, with flavors of citrus and minerals.
- Domaine du Deffends: Clos de la Truffière is probably the best red here, and also the cheapest, with a price tag typically under $20. It boasts intelligent, ageworthy flavors of fruit and herbs.
- Château Routas: Routas makes a number of cuvées here; Cyrano is clearly the best among red wines. With smoky herbal and fruit flavors, it is unconventional but very good. The smooth, fruity Rouvière is the best of the rosés.
There are no subregions of note here.