Approximately 3.5% of production in Provence is reserved for white wines each year, representing nearly 6 million bottles.
From Harvest to Cellar
This is an extremely delicate step, as grapes for white wines are much more sensitive to oxidation, which may occur during the time it takes to transport them to the winery.
EXTRACTION OF AROMAS
In general, the harvest is stripped and crushed and the run-off juice is collected directly in the press, or the harvest is placed in a vat for maceration with skins. In the latter case, the maceration will take place at a controlled temperature (18°C) for a short period of time, enabling the aromas of each grape variety to transfer from the skins to the pulp. The free-run and pressed juices are separated initially, and then may or may not be assembled, depending on their aromatic potential.
The must is then allowed to settle before it undergoes alcoholic fermentation – either in vats or barrels. This is performed at a controlled temperature (18°C). In Provence, it is extremely rare for white wines to undergo malolactic fermentation.
MATURATION & AGEING
White wines can be drawn off and placed directly in bottles to be drunk when young. They can also be matured for several months on fine lees, and these wines will have a lovely smoothness and an enticing aromatic complexity. Some winemakers allow their white wines to undergo malolactic fermentation, and then let them mature a few months in barrels before bottling. These are excellent wines for ageing that fully express the characteristics of the grape varieties and also have subtle, toasted hints of vanilla and cinnamon due to the influence of the wooden barrels.