BFM Business interview | Do Provence wines make a good investment?

bfm business provence wine investment

Angélique de Lencquesaing spoke to Cédric Decoeur on the BFM Business programme, this time taking a look at the vineyards of Provence, a goldmine of exciting wine.

Perhaps it’s the threat of a new lockdown that has us longing for our next escape…I think you’re taking us on a tour of the southern vineyards today, is that right?

Exactly. I think we’re all looking forward to a bit of sunshine and warmer days, and the wines from this region carry all the beauty of the southern terroir.

Provence is first and foremost a land of rosé, no?

Definitely! France comes out on top in every respect when it comes to rosé: number 1 for producing, consuming, and exporting the drink. Most of Provence’s production is this kind of wine, around 90%, making it the flagship rosé region. We can note in passing that rosé was the only kind of wine that saw an increase in consumption during the first covid lockdown of 2020, up +3.5%. This phenomenon is pushed by younger wine drinkers, meaning we can predict an upward trajectory in upcoming years.

If things are looking so good for rosé, why does Provence produce other kinds of wine?

90% of its production is already a huge proportion. But the South of France has some magnificent terroirs for making fine, red wines, and it would be more than a shame to leave these to the side. The proportion of these wines sold at auction is really minimal, around 1% of all bottles sold at iDealwine. However, from the perspective of expanding horizons and diversifying your options, the region has some really interesting wines on offer. They don’t reach the sky-high sums we sometimes cite here for bottles from the more traditional regions.

What are these wines like and do they have investment potential?

Absolutely, and the feature that makes them right for investment is their wonderful ageing potential. Some of Provence’s reds can be cellared at great length. Unlike the region’s rosés, it is advised for these cuvées to be kept in the cellar for a good few years before opening them.

I’d add that the southern Rhône, where some truly fine wines are made, is not so far from Provence. Just a few kilometres south of the regional border is Baux de Provence where we find Domaine de Trévallon. In 2020, this was the region’s top featured property at iDealwine, selling no less than 400 bottles. We should also note the hammer prices which are on the up for collectors vintages like the 1985 and 1988. Last month, a Belgian client bought these two bottles for €258 and €221 respectively.

So we’re talking about the Baux de Provence appellation?

It’s a little bit more complicated than that. Eloi Dürrbach founded his domain in 1973 and contributed to creating the appellation in 1993, but had his own wine refused due to his grape choices. The appellation accepts Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah as its main varietals. At Trévallon, half of the vines are Syrah, and the other half are Cabernet Sauvignon, meaning that the wines are classed simply as IGP Alpilles. Fans of the domain don’t care about this, though…

The famous Bandol appellation is also in Provence

Yes, and this is indeed one of the best reputed in terms of fine reds. In our ranking of the top domains at auction, this appellation represents half of the top 20.

An appellation carried by some emblematic domains…

Yes, vines have been cultivated here since the 5th century BC and it is home to historic domains like Domaine Tempier, a property whose vineyards date from before Louis X. It was really from 1940 that the domain took off with the arrival of Lucie Tempier and her husband, Lucien Peyraud. Today, the estate has a magnificent heritage of very mature vines, particularly the Mourvèdre varietal, from which the Cabassaou cuvée is crafted. Last year, its 1990 vintage went under the hammer for €307.

Another historic Bandol domain is Château Pradeaux, currently run by the Portalis family. Their wines are vinified following traditional methods with some excellent results for their best vintages (1990: €104).

More recent is Château de Pibarnon which was founded at the end of the 1970s. Another ambassador for Mourvèdre (blended with a bit of Grenache), these wines are now produced organically. Their first vintages have become collectors’ bottles (1982: €150).

To the trio of Tempier, Pibarnon and Pradeaux, I’d add Domaine de Terrebrune, still in Bandol, which is one of our top 10 best-selling Provence domains.

Is there much hope for investment in Provence wines from outside Bandol?

There’s definitely fine wine to be found elsewhere in Provence, and I’m thinking particularly of Château Simone, to the South-East of Aix-en-Provence. This is an exceptional property in the region as it obtained an appellation status of its own in 1948: Palette. The wines from this domain are exciting, with reds crafted mainly from Grenache noir and completed with Mourvèdre, Cabernet, Syrah and Cinsault. Their white cuvées are mainly made using Clairette, and they also produce beautiful rosés that should be aged for a couple of years in order to reveal their aromas of rose and tea.

Do these wines gain value on the auction market?

In a certain way, yes, since they’re rare. In our auction rankings, a 2007 bottle of red Château Simone sold for €160, and what’s interesting is that the winning bidder was an American client. This signals how the domain’s reputation stretches far beyond the borders of the Hexagon.

Any more names we should be keeping an eye on?

Yes, there are plenty! Domaine Hauvette in the Alpilles, Henri Milan at Saint-Rémy de Provence, the wines from Abbaye de Lérins near Cannes, and Bellet which is north of Nice. All these as well as other Bandol domains. And since organic, biodynamic, and natural wines are on the increase in this region, too, we can cite Château Sainte Anne, Domaine Baravéou, and Domaine Gros’Noré.

When the summer comes around, I’m sure I’ll get to telling you about the magnificent wines we find in Corsica…

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