About the Region
In the Southeast of France, with Italy to the east, the Rhone and the Mediterranean sea to the south, it’s steeped in history! The Greeks are responsible for the naming much of the area, include the main river, the Rhone (Rhodanos) along with the region’s largest city, Marseille (Massalia). The Roman’s followed Greece and they are responsible for the the region’s name –they called the region Provincia nostra.
As a wine producing area, it can be traced back 2,600 years! The region is best known for it’s Rose wine which accounts for more than half of the total production with red close to a third and a small amount of white.
Whilst Cotes de Provence is the largest and most popular designation other wines from the area include Bandol and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. Cotes de Provence accounts for three-quarters of the regions production of which rose is by far the most important. The rose wine is always a blend of grapes, using Carignan (no more than 40% of the blend), Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and Tibouren although some do use Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. 60% of the blend must be from Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and Tibouren and 20% of the wine must be blended from wine produced by the saignee (removing juice from the must) method.
Provence is the only French wine region, outside of Bordeaux, that has a classification system for wine estates versus vineyards – Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne. There are 18 ‘Cru Classes’ and the rules are set that none can be added and none can lose their status.
About the Winemaker
Having been with Boutinot since 1989 it’s fair to say Samatha Bailey’s seen more than a few changes. To rewind a little, what happens when you visit France as an au pair, study French at university and then end up with a work placement in Burgundy (Beaune)...wine gets to be a (big!) part of your life, despite career advice suggesting you should go into accounting!
Her first job was with the very prestigious UK-based Wine Society in their marketing department, and then with Boutinot. The learning curve wasn’t so much a curve as a vertical climb but so exhilarating – tasting, playing, blending, learning. When you start with good ingredients the result can be formidable… BUT it’s not good enough to do formidable once – it’s got to be done every time and that’s demanding but then life without a challenge would be boring!
Originally it was just French wine but as time passed we started to work in South Africa then Australia, Chile, Argentina, California, New Zealand and more. She does have a soft spot for South Africa, especially Chenin and Sauvignon.
Samantha is probably now more than half French if one considers the length of time she’s been there. She lives in a lovely part of France with her Portuguese husband and two girls, having managed to integrate into the village community and becoming almost one of the locals.
As she simply states: ‘I was born in England but France is home, and I absolutely love the wine adventure that started 28 years ago and is still ongoing.’