Sprung from the river Rhone, the Mistral wind and Mont Ventoux, AOC Ventoux wines will give your life dimension and spice. Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence – labelled "Biosphere Reserve" by UNESCO – and its foothills are unanimously renowned for their biodiversity.
Ventoux wines – red, rosé and white – defy conventions. They are free, bold and incredibly luscious.
AOC Ventoux wines are produced with the grape varieties of the Rhone Valley. For red wines, Grenache has roundness, Syrah silky tannins, and Mourvèdre and Carignan spicy aromas. The latter two varieties bring structure and potential to the ageing process. Cinsault – especially for rosé wines – brings a unique fruitiness.
For white wines, the associations of white Grenache, Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier give wines subtle aromas and an exhilarating freshness.
The history of vineyards in Provence merges with that of the men who have grown, enhanced and developed them. Gauls, Greeks, Romans, Provençals, popes, emperors, kings... all have contributed to give AOC Ventoux wines their pedigree.
As the first Greek settlers arrived on the Mediterranean coast, trade with the Gallic tribes started to develop. Wine was of course a main part of the trade. The Gauls, though ale enthusiasts, quickly fell in love with the Greek and later Roman wine productions. Dolia – large vessels used to store wine – from the 4th century B.C. were found around the town of Malaucène.
Though wine trade is proven to have taken place in France as early as the 5th century B.C., production had only been dated back to year 10 B.C.
After a potter’s workshop and wine pottery were recently discovered in the heart of the Côtes du Ventoux appellation,, the first wine production is now thought to date back to year 30 B.C.
The craftsman/artist was a Roman that had settled there to supply the surrounding wineries.
60 rock vats – probably used for winemaking or storage – predating the 6th century AD were discovered across an area stretching from Gordes to Venasque.
Vine growing and especially the production of quality wine developed in France with the expansion of church land. The great abbeys of the Middle Ages have thus contributed to the growth – in quality and quantity – of the vineyards of Ventoux. Indeed, between 909 and 970, Don Mayeul, 4th Abbot of Cluny and a native of Apt, gave his villas to the Abbey, which planted vine and ensured the sustainability of vine growing around Mont Ventoux.
The Church especially contributed to the growth of the future Ventoux vineyards while the Popes were in Avignon. From 1309 to 1414, AOC Ventoux wines regularly ended up on papal tables in Avignon.
Pope John XXII (2nd Pope) had old wine brought from Malaucène, proof if needed that Ventoux wines were of superior quality; indeed, wine did not often get better with age in those days.
In 1365, Apt hosted a Council concluded by Pope Urban V, who discovered Apt country wines and candied fruit in resinated wine, or wine syrup.
Finally, in 1376, Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome and appointed his brother William Roger de Beaufort as Rector. To welcome him, he had red and white wine from the foothills of Mont Ventoux brought in.
Throughout the centuries the kings of France had on their table the entire production of quality French wines. AOC Ventoux wines were not left out.
In the 19th century King Louis-Philippe made the old Grenache of Mazan court wine. According to Mr Julien, a vine and wine historian, it was one of the best wines of the region, alongside the Hermitage straw wine and Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.
In modern times, the concern for quality became all encompassing. The early 20th century saw the emergence of the concept of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. As early as 1939, AOC Ventoux wines created a union to promote the quality and characteristics of Ventoux wines.
They became ’Superior Quality Wine’ (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure, VDQS) in 1953, and got the AOC on 27th July 1973. This was the natural result of centuries of work and effort to achieve the quality and character of AOC Ventoux wines.
The Provençal climate of AOC Ventoux wines is Mediterranean. The sun is a fundamental part of it. The sky is more intensely blue, fragrances are enhanced, colours are magnified. The sun shines between 2,700 and 2,900 hours a year in Provence; as early as May, vineyards as well as olive and almond trees get a record amount of sunshine.
But without the Mistral wind, the picture would be incomplete. The Mistral is inseparable from the land of AOC Ventoux wines. It bends trees, and urges the local ’Comtadins’ to protect their homes and crops against it. It also prevents dampness, drying vineyards and plantations in record time.
So, thanks to the Mistral blowing along the Rhone Valley, the excellent Provençal weather and the protective mass of Mont Ventoux, the land of AOC Ventoux wines offers a rich combination to produce wines with real character.
Mont Ventoux is classified as a Provençal-Pyrenean fold. The Vaucluse Mountains are a natural extension of Mont Ventoux.
These formations have evolved as a result of the orogeny (the building stage of mountains) of the Alpine peaks, the emergence and disappearance of various seas and the transition from humid tropical climates to much colder and dryer climates.
The highly contrasting topography of the current landscape (mountains, plateaus, valleys, in- and outliers, and hills) is the direct result of that climate change. Spanning over a timescale of -230 million years to the present, the substrates identified in the Ventoux area are mostly colluvium, debris accumulated over the years and resulting directly from the change in the geological formations of that time. More or less ancient river terraces are another major part of these Quaternary deposits. These are alluvial placers of sand, gravel and pebbles, covered with silt of highly variable thickness.
Furthermore, the sandstones ’Safres’ of Comtat-Venaissin (from Tertiary sediments), the ochre sands (Cretaceous), Oligocene soils and, more locally, the Triassic Barroux, also play a part in the character of AOC Ventoux wines.
With the Provençal climate and the multiple microclimates of the mountains, plains and valleys of the region, the rich geological variations of the Mont Ventoux area enhance the unique character of AOC Ventoux wines.
Breakdown of Rhone Valley sales in 2010
Breakdown of AOC Ventoux marketing volume in 2010