Eight villages on both sides of the Alpilles. Twelve (*) estates on each side of the rock on which the village of Les Baux-de-Provence has been built. The character and uniqueness of the land at Les Baux are evident in the raw beauty of the landscapes in this other Provence.
The wines of Les Baux can be defined as much in terms of the unique, multi-faceted character of the soil as by the choices made by the men who work it. The Baux-de-Provence Vignerons formed an association and have been officially recognised since 1995 by a “Registered Designation of Origin”. These winemakers are united by their mutual determination to preserve their land as it is, naturally protected and dried by the mistral wind.
Care for the environment is central to the work of the vignerons who, more than 50 years ago, founded the great vineyards in the Baux Valley. Nowadays, AOP Les Baux-de-Provence wines are unusual in that the grapes are grown using organic or biodynamic methods over 85% of their geographical area and most vignerons have been demanding the inclusion of this characteristic in the decrees that have regulated the registered designation of origin for more than a decade.
In 2007, when the Agriculture Act was revised and the decrees relating to AOP wines were rewritten, the vignerons included two significant demands in the specifications that they proposed to the CRINAO (regional committee of the national quality institute). Not only did they ask for an AOP Les Baux-de-Provence for white wines (to date, the white wines they produce are listed either as AOP Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, as Vin de Pays des Alpilles or as Vin de Pays des Bouches du Rhône), they also asked for the organic farming method to be included in the specifications. This would have made theirs the first organic AOP wine in France.
The new specifications have been in effect since 1st April 2009. The vignerons’ wishes were not met but the national quality institute is launching discussions on the subject. In his last letter, Pascal Laville, regional delegate for South-Eastern France, said of the decree, “It enables us to take another step forward and propose work on the modifications that you are seeking, especially the acknowledgment of white wines and the introduction of environmentally-friendly growing practices and vinification.” Refusal is no longer an option and the vignerons of Les Baux may have succeeded in convincing the authorities of the justification for an issue that they have always defended – that the growing method is part of the identity of a wine-growing area, a “terroir”. In Les Baux, the method is organic.
*Château d’Estoublon, Mas de la Dame, Mas Sainte Berthe, Château Dalmeran Domaine de Lauzières, L’Affectif, Mas de Gourgonnier, Domaine de la Vallongue, Domaine de Terres Blanches, Château Romanin, Domaine Hauvette, Domaine Guilbert.