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Mention the wines of the French Mediterranean to professionals and consumers alike, and images of sun-drenched hillsides, glistening waters, and wines as easy to sip as they are layered and food-friendly immediately jump to mind. The amazing thing is that all of that is true: Wines produced in the IGP Méditerranée bring together sun and sea to craft a wide range of white, red, and especially rosé wines with approachable flavor profiles and exceptional value.
Wines as Varied as the Vineyards They’re Grown In
The bounds of IGP Méditerranée stretch throughout southeastern France, from the iconic hillsides and plateaus of the northern Rhône all the way across Provence and onto the Côte d’Azur of the Mediterranean for which it’s named. It spreads over the departments of Ardèche, Drôme, Hautes Alpes, Vaucluse, Alpes de Haute Provence, Alpes Maritime, Bouches-du-Rhône, and Var.
It’s quite a varied landscape, but all share a commonality that makes the wines of IGP Méditerranée so special: The plentiful sunshine (around 2,500 hours of it per year bathe the vines in light, helping them attain fantastic ripeness and generosity), the Mistral winds that help keep the wines fresh and energetic, and the ancient lands that make each crinkle, fold, and hillside in the indication its own unique character.
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Great wine is nothing new here; even the ancients knew that this was an area uniquely suited to growing grapes and making wines of serious distinction. Winemaking here stretches back to the Phoenicians, whose devotion to wine became renowned all over the region and beyond. Massalia, which is known today as Marseille, provided a perfect port from which to import wines from around the world and to spread their own wines around the Mediterranean.
Even in the ancient world, the winemakers and growers of what is today IGP Méditerranée were passionate about the range of wines that could be produced across their territory. That love of the vine is stronger than ever today, and the wines they produce are nothing short of game-changing.
A Mosaic of Territory and Landscape
Of course, wines produced across such a diverse and varied collection of vineyards require a broad range of grape varieties to best express each one. As a result, the reds, whites, and rosés from IGP Méditerranée can be crafted from a fantastic selection of more than 200 varieties. Classically southern French ones, however, tend to play the biggest role, including Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan for the reds and world-famous rosés, and Viognier, Vermentino, and Muscat among the more important of the white varieties.
But this is also an IGP that is capable of producing astounding expressions of the great international varieties as well, and the Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Chardonnays, and more of IGP Méditerranée are often friendly and delicious. Because around 75 percent of IGP Méditerranée wines are blends, the wines have a spectacular and unique ability to express the land while overdelivering for the price.
This range of varieties—the raw materials that are at the root of all wine—means that winemakers can take full advantage of both the land on which they grow their vines and their own unique sense of what will do best in the land they work. Still, the requirements of IGP Méditerranée govern every aspect of the winegrowing process with quality in mind, from how the land is farmed to specific dictates that guide the winemaking itself.
The result is a unique confluence of creativity and regulation, and the combination of the two allows the 464 producers, 98 cooperatives, and 133 négociants and cellars crafting IGP Méditerranée wines to both constantly push the wines forward to greater and greater heights of expressiveness, all while remaining true to the regulations that are an absolute guarantee of quality and accuracy in the glass. Throughout the process—from vineyard to bottle—expert regional authorities test and monitor 100 percent of the wine, which means that wines labeled as IGP Méditerranée are guaranteed to meet the highest quality requirements, all while still expressing the unique vision of the people who grow and craft them. Few other places in the world showcase this juxtaposition of creativity and regulation so well.
Known for Rosé
The reds and whites of IGP Méditerranée, for all their range of constituent grape varieties and the divergent character of the vineyards in which they’re grown, share several important characteristics, most important among them being their generous fruit, spice (in the reds) that ranges from subtle to more assertive, and incredible food-friendliness. These are wines that often serve as “secret weapons” for sommeliers and wine buyers: They pair with a wide selection of flavors and textures on the plate and fit with seasonal dishes year-round—they’re neither too heavy for the lighter foods of the summer nor too light for the heartier fare of the cooler months—making them particularly important on wine lists and on retail shelves.
Yet it’s the rosés of IGP Méditerranée that tend to get the most attention, and it’s no wonder: This is the part of France that made rosé the international phenomenon it has become. The great pink wines of southeastern France set the benchmark around the world. And while they’re most famous incarnation is the classic pale-pink-hued rosé with effusive cherry and berry fruit, moderate spice, and the kind of mouthwatering acidity that practically calls out for a Niçoise salad to enjoy alongside it, the full story of IGP Méditerranée rosé is far more varied than that. It makes sense: Everything in this IGP offers far more complexity than is initially apparent.
So while there are, of course, the classically delicate rosés that have changed the pink-wine landscape around the world, producers are crafting rosés of all hues and styles: Darker ones with a bit more weight and concentration, and lighter ones that are almost transparent in their nuance. The U.S. gets a good sample of the spectrum of IGP Mediterranée rosés as well: It’s the number one export market for the overall indication, representing 40 percent of the wines exported—a number that is increasing every year.
All of them, however—rosé as well as red and white—have a distinct ability to channel this ancient land, the sun shimmering off the hillsides and glinting across the sea, the warmth and generosity of the climate and the people who so proudly make the wines. In that and so many other delicious and transporting ways, IGP Méditerranée has it all.