In 1931, the ‘Syndicat de Defense des Côtes de Provence’ was created. They aimed, and still do, at maintaining the quality and image of the wines of the region. In 1960, as increasingly more vineyards bottled their own wine using either the Burgundy or Hollandaise bottle, the Syndicat decided to design and copyright its own bottle.
The ‘flute a corset Provençal’ bottle, nicknamed the ‘Mae West’ (for obvious reasons) is only allowed to be used for domaine bottled wines and permission to use this bottle, nicknamed the ‘aubergine’ is reserved for use by négociant bottled wines but this is less strictly controlled. Only appellation Côtes de Provence wines are permitted to use either of these bottles.
Attractive posters and advertising has associated, in the consumers mind, the voluptuous curves of the Provençal bottle with hot sunny Provence; wines to be drunk under umbrella pines by the sea along the Riviera and Cote d’Azur. Many tourists return from their holidays with memories of a wonderful wine, but they cannot remember the name, their only description being the unusual shape of the bottle. The image-making has succeeded, maybe too well, in symbolizing the wines of Provence. In England it was almost de rigeur for Provençal Rosé wine to be served in the Mae West bottle and many feel that repeated efforts to achieve serious recognition for rose wine is thwarted by this presentation.
An idea was mooted in the early 1990s, that it would be a constructive policy to establish a corporate image for the wines of Cotes de Provence, but resistance is strong. The favored design is an elongated Bordeaux-style bottle – broad shouldered with a tapered base, long neck and a high punt, similar to those found at the famous Maison Belle Claire, Domaine de la Courtade, Château Ferry Lacombe, Castel Roubine and Domaine Rabiega. This elegant bottle is similar to the antique Italian and old Bordeaux bottle and harks back to the classical history of the Provençal vineyards in much the same way that the ‘flute a corset Provençal’ reflects the shape of the classical amphorae.
So many of the “me too” Rosé wines that have entered into the fast-growing market, have opted for the less expensive, Bordeaux-style bottle. But, at Maison Belle Claire, the traditional ‘flute a corset Provençal’ remains important as a symbol of origin and very superior quality.
A voltre santé!
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