In the centre of Provence you’ll find the alluring mid-mountain range of the Luberon. It is at once a mountain range, a national park, and a dynamic and inspiring AOC. We take you on a tour of this wonderful region and explore some of it’s top wines.
The Luberon is a magical mid-mountain chain that rises to 1,125 meters above sea level at Mourre Nègre. This limestone massif is bordered, to the north, by the valley of the Calavon, to the south by the valley of the Durance, to the east by Manosque and the start of the Alps, and to the west by Cavaillon and the plain of Vaucluse. It stretches 55 km in length and is crossed by the valley of Lourmarin which separates the Petit Luberon from the Grand Luberon. Being attached to the southern Rhone vineyards, the appellation is in fact a link between the Rhône Valley and Provence.
The region has a rich and varied history, dating back to the Greek and Roman civilisations when the first vines were planted here. The vineyards flourished in the Middle Ages, particularly during the Avignon Papacy, then enjoyed varying degrees of success from the Renaissance through to the early modern era. Growth intensified again towards the end of the 19th century and throughout the first half of the 20th, and since the 1970s, Luberon’s winegrowers have been involved in a series of major projects to upgrade and modernise the appellation vineyards.
The Luberon way of life
It’s impossible to talk about the Luberon without talking about the people and their way of life. Famed for their stress-free way of living in harmony with the world and with nature, their slow way of life is reflected on street corners in every stunning one of the local villages. In fact, no trip to the Luberon is complete without visiting the many beautiful villages of the Luberon including the 7 that are listed within the ‘Most beautiful villages of France‘; Ansouis, Gordes, Roussillon, Lourmarin, Ménerbes, Séguret, and Vénasque.
All the vineyards of AOC Luberon are located within the giant Parc Régional Naturel, which covers 1850 km2 and both the Vaucluse and Alpes de Haute-Provence departements. It is also now recognised as a Biosphere Reserve and Global Geopark by UNESCO. The winegrowers of Luberon are proud to coexist with this magnificent natural heritage and are committed to its protection and alongside this, passionate about supporting development that is sustainable.
The vines grow in this environment, around the massif on its Northern and Southern sides, on the hills, and slopes up to 500 meters high in altitude. This elevation becomes more significant when it’s considered that the territory of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation is located at an altitude of only 120 meters.
The climate is a mix of Rhone influences and benefits from the cooler temperatures of the highProvençal plateaux. The mountain range brings about significant variations in temperature, which ensure that the red wines retain their bite, and that there is a substantial production of white wines.
The Luberon AOC produces on average 21 million bottles a year of which 23% are red, 23% are white and 54% are rosé. To reach classification Luberon wines must be a blend of at least two grape varieties.
The red wines tend to possess aromas of dark fruit, truffle, and leather and are big wines that are racy on the palate. Syrah is the main red grape variety of the AOC Luberon; planted since the 1960s, it now represents 46% of the appellation. Other varieties include Grenache noir, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.
The rosé wines are full and expressive. They come in shades ranging from very pale to very bright pink. On the palate, they are characterised by pronounced red fruit aromas (strawberries, redcurrants), or more exotic aromas, and by a delightful freshness.
White wines now represent more than 20% of the appellation and are constantly progressing both in proportion of the total production, and above all, in quality, within the appellation.
Two white wine styles are produced today within the appellation: the most generous style favours Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grape varieties and are reminiscent of classic styles of the Rhône Valley Vineyards. Others favour Clairette, Vermentino and Bourboulenc grape varieties and combine freshness, finesse, and minerality with subtle aromas and an overall moderate alcohol content.
We taste some of the Luberon’s stand out wines
Château la Canorgue
Located at the heart of the Luberon Regional Natural Park, between Avignon and Aix en Provence, Château la Canorgue is a family-owned estate. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the successive generations it has remained in the family for more than 200 years.
In the 1970s, Jean-Pierre Margan, a pioneer in organic farming started tending to the vineyard located on an exceptional terroir and began producing high-quality wines of character. His daughter, Nathalie, now represents the 5th generation of winegrowers!
Château la Canorgue wines are regular winners of the highest awards with their white Luberon AOC being the winner of the Gold Medal in the 2015 Paris Concours Général Agricole.
Tasting notes: This is a wine with a pleasant complexity and freshness, holding wild notes of citrus and exotic fruit. It pairs deliciously with fish, shellfish, or as an aperitif.
Château Val Joanis Réserve Les Aubépines, Luberon, 2020
Producing wines since Roman times, today the Château Val Joanis estate is owned by the Roozen family, who are continually striving to produce delicious wine, whilst protecting their environment. The estate comprises 400 hectares including stunning gardens and views over the Luberon.
The vines grow at altitudes ranging from 280m to 450m and also benefit from a sunny exposure and a favourable microclimate with late ripening giving the wines freshness and balance.
Tasting notes: Made with 70% Roussanne and 30% Rolle, Aubépines is a rich, elegant, and complex wine, with notes of white flowers, toasted brioche, and pear. It is the perfect partner for grilled fish such as tuna and is also great with roast poultry and some cheeses.
Sylvain Morey Barraban Luberon Blanc 2021
Sylvain Morey is the youngest in a 400-year line of Moreys in Chassagne-Montrachet. Starting in Burgundy, in the late 1990s, Sylvain acquired the Bastide du Claux near La Motte d’Aigues in the Luberon, bottling his first Luberon AOC wine with the 2002 vintage.
The “Barraban” showcases the wide variety of grape varieties found in the Luberon with a blend of 30% Grenache Blanc, 25% Vermentino, 15% Ugni Blanc, 10% Viognier, 10% Clairette, 7% Roussanne, and 3% Marsanne.
Tasting notes: It presents a brisk acidity with expressive aromatics and round and dry stone fruits, with good texture and lift.
Château La Verrerie Rosé 2021
Château la Verrerie is located on the borders of the Luberon Regional Natural Park, a few kilometers from Lourmarin, one of the most beautiful villages in Provence.
Tasting notes: This delightful rosé combines delicious citrus fragrances, with a very smooth floral finish. It’s pale pink in colour with purple highlights. It pairs well with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and wild garlic pesto, aubergine with ginger and carrot coulis, and chickpea salad with cumin.
Mas des Infermiéres Rosé Source 2021
Owned by the famous director Ridley Scott since 1992, this winery is located near Oppède. The name “cuvée source” given to the first vintage made in 2009 under the Scott family’s ownership, takes its inspiration directly from the historic abundance of water nearby. A symbol or suggestion of health, healing, and good fortune.
Tasting notes: The nose elegantly reveals notes of red fruits and exotic fruits. The palette opens with notes of fresh fruit developing into a beautiful aromatic complexity with notes of ripe fruit and citrus. It has a beautiful, brilliant pale pink colour. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif or alongside barbecues, charcuteries, or mixed salads.
Cave de Lumières Château Thourame Luberon Rosé 2021
The Cave de Lumières is a wine cooperative located in the commune of Goult. Chateau Thourame, a Provençal fortification built in the 15th century near Bonnieux, is on the northern side of the Luberon mountain. The vines grow at the property, as they have for years, in limestone and clay soil. Their rosé is made at the Cave de Lumières in Goult following the “saignée” method which involves “bleeding” off a portion of red wine juice after it’s been in contact with the skins and seeds. The result is a stronger and more complex wine than some other Provence rosés.
Tasting notes: A mineral rosé with peaches and elegant floral notes. It pairs well with salads, grilled fish, paella, barbecued food, and pizza.
Les Clefs de Mille Luberon 2021
Château de Mille is the oldest wine estate in the Luberon, first documented in the Avignon archives in 1238! Their Les Clefs de Mille 2021 is made from 70% Syrah, and 30% Cinsault-Carignan.
Tasting notes: It has a palate balanced between freshness and roundness, with red fruits, peach, and almonds on the nose with a gooseberry, peach colour. It pairs well with toast and tapenade, stuffed peppers, tomato squid, and Asian dishes.
Marrenon Petula 2021
The winegrowers of Marrenon operate as a collective, having come together to produce wine over 40 years ago. Today the many local winemakers come together to grow the wines, with harvest and production orchestrated with the precision of head winemaker Philippe Tolleret. This fresh and fruity rosé is composed of 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache noir
Tasting notes: It’s round with touches of mango and redcurrant. The nose boasts aromas of red berries supported by raspberry and spice and has an intense salmon pink colour. It pairs well with a Provençal salad, stuffed zucchini flowers, salt-crusted sea bream, vegetables or even sushi.