Les Baux-de-Provence AOC is an appellation for still wines of all three colours in the far west of the Provence region, centred around the hilltop town and gastronomic centre of Les Baux-de-Provence, between Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (which it overlooks), just south of Avignon. Until 1995 the appellation was called Coteaux d’Aix en Provence Les Baux AC and covered red and rosé wines only.
Communes (7): Les Baux-de-Provence. | Fontvieille. | Mausanne-les-Alpilles. | Mouriès. | Paradou. | Saint-Étienne-du-Grès. | Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
The name: Les Baux is named after bauxite, a mineral, which was discovered here in 1822, a product of long and thorough weathering of certain clays, and the chief source of the metal aluminium (being composed mainly of aluminium oxide), says James E. Wilson (1999), p.298.
Terroir: James E. Wilson (1999, p.298) describes Les Baux as a highly deformed Cretaceous limestone massif, a promontory at the foot of the Alpilles which rises abruptly to 1,300 feet (400 metres) above the Rhône Valley along the northeast flank of the Alpilles.
Andrew Jefford (2002, p.153) calls Les Baux ‘a fastness’, meaning a secure place protected by natural features, which is ‘grafted onto one of the spurs of Les Alpilles (“the Alplets”), a heavily weathered and deformed limestone massif–thus most of the vineyards of this AOC are not in its high centre, but in the lower foothills to the north, south, east, and west. The vines in general grow in the limestone rubble shattered from the Alpilles during the deep chills of the Ice Ages mixed with varying amounts of clay,’ or what James E Wilson (1999, p.298) calls ‘limestone scree and terrace deposits’.
Climate: Les Baux is slightly warmer and wetter than much of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence (Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition, 2015, p.75).
Ripening variations: Andrew Jefford (2002, p.153) says that despite Les Baux being a relatively small area, ripening times vary considerably with up to 15 days’ difference between Mas de la Dame in the south and Domaine de Trévallon in the north.
Organics: The majority of the growers here are organic or Biodynamic and aim to make this form of viticulture mandatory.
Wine production & vineyard area: 2002 8,891hl of red and rosé from 332ha (Guide Hachette des Vins 2004, p.790).
Les Baux-de-Provence AOC Blanc: Created in 2005. At least 60% Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Vermentino with no single one of the three to exceed 90%. A maximum of 30% Roussane, Bourboulenc, Marsanne, or Ugni Blanc. No more than 10% to 30% can be Roussanne.
Les Baux-de-Provence AOC Rosé: The blend must include two grape varieties of which one must comprise at least 50%. At least 60% Cinsaut, Grenache or Syrah (and no more than 90% of any single one). A maximum of 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Counoise, and/or Mourvèdre. Maximum 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Upto 10% white grapes are allowed.
Les Baux-de-Provence AOC Rouge: At least 60% Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah with no single one of these three to exceed 90%. A maximum of 30% of secondary varietals Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, Cinsaut, Counoise with no more than 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘thus excluding Domaine de Trévallon from the appellation’ (Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition, 2015, p.75).
Château Dalmeran. Château d’Estoublon. Château Romanin. Domaine de Lauzières. Domaine de Terres Blanches. Domaine de la Vallongue. Domaine Guilbert. Domaine Hauvette. L’Affectif. Mas de Gourgonnier. Mas de la Dame. Mas Sainte Berthe.
Andrew Jefford, The New France (Mitchell Beazley, 2002).
James E. Wilson, Terroir: The Role of Geology, Climate, and Culture in the Making of French Wines (University of California Press, 1999).
Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015), p75.
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p.41.