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Vallée du Rhone: Contemporary wines
Rhone Valley: Contemporary wines
It has become customary to divide this extensive wine growing region into two
completely different parts – the North, where vines grow on a thin strip of land
alongside the Rhône, before widening out towards the South. This guide book is
no exception. We will review the two parts separately, starting with the North.
NORTHERN CÔTES DU RHÔNE: unquestionably a fully-fledged member of the
world’s elite circle of premium quality wines, with a string of household names
(Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Condrieu…). Here, vines cling to the Rhône Valley’s
steepest inclines, making it sometimes impossible to introduce mechanisation.
In fact, as far back as winegrowers can remember, some sites have never seen a
tractor. The only justification for enduring such adverse growing conditions is the
quality of the wines (coaxed out of the outstanding ‘terroir’ and remarkable
microclimate). Their reputation stems not only from the ‘terroir’, though, but also
from quality grape varieties and the expertise of the wine growers. The wines are
well-structured, robust, aromatic and complex. Both the reds and the whites
(probably with the exception of the Viogniers) are suitable for laying down. Low
yields and boutique vineyards, where harvesting can often be completed in a
day, enable wine growers in the northern Côtes du Rhône to provide an
extremely comprehensive range of wines in each appellation.
SOUTHERN CÔTES DU RHÔNE: this region stretches from the southern part of the Drôme department, over half of Vaucluse, the southern tip of Ardèche and along the right bank of Gard. The name ‘Côte du Rhône’ dates back to the 15th century when it referred to one of two areas around Uzès under the control of a
magistrate which was branded onto barrels dispatched from the port of
Roquemaure. Unlike its more northerly neighbour, single-crop farming is
characteristic of the southern wine region. Many villages are entirely devoted to
wine growing. ‘Côtes du Rhône’ wine is by far the most prevalent and the
‘villages’ (16 villages are allowed to append their name to the appellation) stand
at the pinnacle of the local growths.
Producing vast quantities of wine does not preclude quality, neither at regional
AC or Côtes du Rhône Villages level, and of course, even less so for the five local
(or growth) appellations - Lirac, Tavel, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and
Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Blending (see under varietals) is the norm for these
appellations. The rosés (interestingly, Tavel only produces this colour of wine) are
made by the ‘bleeding’ process or the direct-to-press method. Yield restrictions
(35 hl/ha in Vaucluse and 42 to 48 hl/ha in Gard for the growths, 42 hl/ha for
Côtes du Rhône Villages and 52 hl/ha for regional Côtes du Rhône) are one of the
reasons why respectable cellars and restaurants, in France and abroad, stock
southern Côtes du Rhône.
THE ‘SATELLITE’ WINE REGIONS: Five appellation areas are now joined to Côtes
du Rhône, even though they are slightly further away from the river:
Die: Three appellations including two still wines (Clairette de Die, 88% of output)
and Crémant de Die (12%), and one still wine appellation (Châtillon-en-Diois).
Grignan les Adhémar: Along the left bank of the Rhône in the Drôme department.
Côtes du Ventoux: Further south, stretching over 7,500 hectares amongst the
foothills of Mont Ventoux, Provence’s highest peak.
Côtes du Luberon: The second-largest area in Vaucluse, this proud ‘terroir’ growth
is set within an area of outstanding natural beauty (the Luberon national park)
north of the river Durance.
Costières de Nîmes: This is the most southerly Rhône valley region, so much so
that it borders on Languedoc (Gard department).
VARIETALS: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cinsault take centre stage for
the reds. The whites use primarily Clairette, Bourboulenc, Viognier,
Roussanne and Marsanne. In Die, Clairette Pointue and Small Berry Muscat.
Thirteen grape varieties are permitted in Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Clairette,
Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Picpoul, Cinsault, Counoise, Muscardin, Terret noir,
Vaccarese, Picardan, Roussanne and Bourboulenc. In actual fact, though, few
wines nowadays take full advantage of this huge potential.
WINE STYLES: the northern red growths are vigorous, and in some cases (see
Châteauneuf-du-Pape) warm. They require several years’ cellaring (at least three
to five years and more for the likes of Côte Rôtie).
The Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône-villages are immediately more
approachable, except when certain styles of winemaking or ageing are used.
The whites are also heady, fragrant, sunny-clime wines with a framework
supported by their acidity. As they age (Châteauneuf-du-Pape again), some scale
the heights for complexity and finesse.
Review of latest vintages:
2010: Low quantities yet very high quality wines. The reds are dense, aromatic
and complex. The white and rosés are pure and show wonderfully refined
expression. The reds need to mature but should start to produce some excellent
efforts this year. Superlative wines in the north, definitely designed for cellaring.
2011: an extraordinarily inconsistent year, particularly for red wines which
account for the bulk of production. Harvesting began in late August, around 10
days early compared with 2010. For Syrah and Mourvèdre, the vintage is
generally of an excellent standard with wonderful varietal expression and full,
complex wines. Grenache shows clear differences depending on the area, where
rainfall and harvest dates have a significant impact. The 2011s show abundant
fruit and are similar in style to the 09s with aromas of cherry and prunes, a hint
of over-ripeness and a warm edge.
2012: This region experienced incessant rain combined with quite mild
temperatures, causing the vines to grow exuberantly. This led to late ripening,
which was compensated by uniform development. The reds are dense, with a
tight tannic structure. The whites harvested early have retained a good level of
acidity. A reasonable vintage.
THE Rhône Valley appellations
A.C. Beaumes de Venise
Overview: previously subsumed into the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation,
Beaumes de Venise was recently promoted to growth status. The area stretches
across the south-eastern face of the Dentelles de Montmiral range (at elevations
ranging from 100 to 600m), in four villages in the Vaucluse department. The soil
is derived from Oxfordian marl from the Upper Cretaceous series and the Triassic,
unique to the Côtes du Rhône. The climate is particularly hot because the
landform acts as a buffer against the Mistral wind.
Wine styles: Beaumes de Venise produces powerful, mellow red wines which are
generous and aromatic. They make suitable partners for meat in a sauce and
A.C. Château Grillet
Overview: Château Grillet is one of France’s smallest appellations, covering just
four hectares belonging to a single owner. The area forms an enclave within the
Condrieu appellation along the right bank of the Rhône. Only white wines are
made here from Viognier. The soils are formed of stony sand on a granite
bedrock. The vines grow on sheer, south-facing terraces sheltered from the wind.
Wine styles: as the grapes are harvested earlier than for Condrieu, the wines tend
to be more austere, less fragrant and heady. Blessed with an attractive pale
golden hue and a fresh, delicate bouquet, they are subtle, well-structured wines
with a long ageing capacity (10 to 20 years). Principal aromas are lychee and camomile. They can be paired with grilled fish, seafood, shellfish, goats cheese
and mi-cuit foie gras
Overview: this area encompasses five towns and villages set in the southern part
of the Rhône Valley - Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange and
Sorgues. The soil is extremely stony, covered with pebbles interspersed with red
clay and sand. This type of soil retains heat during the day which it releases by
night. Châteauneuf-du-Pape boasts the driest climate in the region with some
2,800 hours of sunshine annually.
The wines are vinted traditionally at controlled temperatures. The reds are vatted
for around three weeks to ensure maximum extraction. The permitted range of
grape varieties is extensive, although many are not widely planted. For the reds:
Grenache noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Carignan, Terret noir, Counoise,
Muscardin, Vaccarese, Camarese, Calitor and Picpoul noir. For the whites:
Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Picpoul blanc, Picardan,
Marsanne, Viognier, Pascal blanc, Ugni blanc and Maccabeo.
Wine styles: the appellation produces both red and white wines. The red wines
with their intense colour are redolent of red fruit, leather, aniseed, spices and the
occasional balsamic note. They are round, unctuous, full and supple with good
length on the palate. The white wines sport a translucid pale yellow colour. They
are fresh and aromatic (floral notes reminiscent of vine flowers, honeysuckle and
daffodils) with good staying power on the palate. The reds pair with game (leg of
venison, jugged hare, roast woodpigeon) or cheese. The whites are equally
delicious as appetisers or with grilled fish doused with olive oil, shellfish and
rosemary-flavoured goats cheese.
Overview: a diminutive appellation area (60 hectares) located in the vicinity of
Die, in the far eastern portion of the northern Rhône Valley. Although they are
grown on the same soil types as Clairette de Die (stony hillsides, calcareous clay),
wines from Châtillon-en-Diois come from the cooler zones of the Drôme Valley.
Wine styles: the appellation produces light, fruity red wines from Gamay, Pinot
noir and Syrah which reward early drinking or pleasant, vigorous still white wines
from Chardonnay and Aligoté. The reds can be served with barbecued meats
cooked on a wood fire and the whites with grilled fish.
A.C. Clairette de Die
Overview: this area covers 32 towns and villages dotted along the Drôme Valley.
The soils are calcareous clay on stony hillsides. Once the grapes have been
pressed, the juice is filtered and chilled and the partially fermented must is then bottled. Alcoholic fermentation continues in the bottle, resulting in a naturally
sparkling wine. Sediment is removed at least six months after bottling.
Wine styles: Clairette de Die is a light, fruity sparkling wine with a brilliant golden
hue. The wines develop aromas of green apple, white fruit and floral notes of
rose. They can be served either as appetisers or with desserts, frozen sweets,
chocolate or foie gras.
Overview: the Condrieu area, a producer of white wines, is situated 11 kilometres
south of Vienne, on the right bank of the Rhône, just below the red wine
appellation area Côte Rôtie. Seven villages feature within the area and the vines
are planted on sheer granite slopes enriched with patches of loess. The steep
inclines make mechanical harvesting impossible and the crop is therefore
hand-picked. Low yields warrant the expensive price tag on these wines which
are intended to be drunk in their youth (between two and four years old).
Wine styles: the appellation only produces white wines, made from the only
permitted grape variety, Viognier. Pale gold in colour, they are heady, yet supple,
rich and unctuous with a touch of acidity. Principal aromas are acacia honey,
violet, musk, apricot and peach. They can be served with freshwater fish, mi-cuit
foie gras, goats cheese, king prawns and duck breast with peaches.
Overview: this appellation area is set in the northern half of the Rhône Valley,
opposite the town of Valence. The only permitted varietal is Syrah which forms
the basis of the area’s red wines. Similarly, only one village is entitled to the
appellation, Cornas in Ardeche. The vines grow on terraces supported by dry
stone walls and enjoy maximum sunshine which promotes good ripening. The
neighbouring hills also shield the vines from the wind, resulting in significantly
higher temperatures than in Hermitage, just 11 kilometres away. The soil is
granite with patches of calcareous clay. At the base of the hills, they are sandy
with decomposed granite whilst in the northern part of the appellation, there
tends to be more limestone. The only varietal used is Syrah.
Wine styles: Cornas is a powerful, robust wine in its early years. Its tannins only
begin to mellow several years down the line though even then, the wines remain
robust with a dark hue. Strangely, it is unlike any of its northern Rhône Valley
neighbours and is often described as rustic or wild. The younger wines display
aromas of red fruit and pepper, leading into aromas of truffle, amber, hazelnut
and liquorice after five to ten years’ ageing. They pair with wild boar in a sauce,
venison cutlets marinated in Cornas wine, roast venison or jugged hare.
A.C. Costières de Nîmes
Overview: an appellation situated between Arles and Nîmes, north of the
Camargue. This is the most easterly of the Languedoc appellations although it is
officially joined to the Rhône Valley. It covers 24 towns and villages in the Gard
department, on ancient alluvial soils formed of pebbles, gravel and sand
bordering one of the Rhône’s former river beds.
The climate is Mediterranean and the varietal range is traditional. Carignan (40%
maximum), Grenache (25% minimum), Syrah and Mourvedre (20% minimum)
and Cinsault (40% maximum) for the reds. Clairette, Grenache, Bourboulenc,
Ugni blanc (40% maximum), with a 50% maximum supporting range of
Marsanne, Roussanne, Maccabeo and Rolle for the whites.
Wine styles: the red wines are expressive and well-balanced. They are powerful
and robust when sourced in the southern part of the appellation (facing the sea).
In the northern zone, they are more supple, fruity wines for quaffing. Their
aromas belong to the red fruit, wild berry and small venison range. Try with
grilled meat, Sète-style rabbit or small game. The rosés, which are made using
the bleeding process, develop aromas of exotic fruit (mango) and citrus fruit.
They are lively wines which pair remarkably well with shellfish fritters, squid in a
sweet and sour sauce, cooked cold pork meats. Shellfish and fish are a perfect
match for the white wines, which are mainly drawn from Grenache blanc and
Clairette and are fresh and aromatic.
A.C. Côte Rôtie
Overview: an appellation set in the far northern part of the Rhône Valley. The
vines grow on terraces supported by dry stone walls facing south-east, which
provides them with maximum sunshine. Three villages are entitled to the
appellation: Ampuis, Saint-Cyr-sur-le-Rhône and Tupin-et-Semons.
The Côte Rôtie area is divided into two parts: Côte Blonde and Côte Brune. Côte
Blonde is home to steep granite terraces covered with a layer of siliceous
limestone, whilst in Côte Brune the soil is iron oxide-rich clay. The wines are
vinted traditionally with relatively long vatting periods (two to three weeks) and
aged for 18 to 36 months in oak casks which are often new.
Wine styles: these red wines are single varietals made from Syrah, occasionally
augmented with a tiny proportion of Viognier. Their deep red colour with purple
tints takes on orangy-yellow tints when they reach 10 to 15 years of age. The
wines are extremely well-structured, tannic and unctuous with a characteristic
intense bouquet. Wines from Côte Blonde tend not to keep for as long as those
from Côte Brune. They display aromas of violet, spices (pepper, vanilla), red fruit
(raspberry), black fruit and undergrowth. They pair with water fowl,
subtly-flavoured meats (roasted young wild boar), truffles and asparagus.
A.C. Coteaux de Die
Overview: this is a young appellation set in the Die area, east of the northern
Rhône Valley. The soils are primarily calcareous clay and shale marl. The grapes
(Clairette) are sent straight to the press, vinted traditionally and then aged for six
to eight months.
Wine styles: Coteaux de Die are still white wines sporting a golden hue with
greenish tints. Usually dry and fresh, they develop fragrances of flowers and
green apple. Recommended pairings include fish, shellfish and goats cheese.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône
Overview: this is the Rhône Valley’s largest appellation (the second-largest in
France, after Bordeaux). It covers 163 towns and villages spread over six
departments, from Vienne to Avignon – Loire, Rhône, Ardèche, Gard, Drôme and
Vaucluse, with most of the area under vine in the last three. The soils are granite
in the north and alluvium on limestone in the south. Many areas are also home to
gravel from the Alps mountain range.
The climate is Mediterranean with the characteristic Mistral wind. Seasonal
rainfall, hot temperatures and outstanding sunshine are all distinctive features of
the region. The wines are vinted traditionally at controlled temperatures. Most of
the wines are aged in tanks though occasionally oak casks are used. The
varietal range is extremely broad. Grenache noir, Syrah, Mourvedre,
Cinsault, Carignan, Terret noir, Counoise, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Camarese,
Calitor and Picpoul noir for the reds. Clairette, Bourboulenc,
Roussanne, Grenache blanc, Picpoul blanc, Picardan, Marsanne, Viognier, Pascal
blanc, Ugni blanc and Maccabeo for the whites.
Wine styles: 95% of the wines grown in this appellation area are red and can be
divided into two main styles. Some are rich, generous wines with mellow tannins
that are intended for cellaring. Others are not unlike ‘primeur’ wines and are
light, fruity and vigorous. Predominant aromas are small red and black fruit (red
currant, blackcurrant, bilberry, blackberry), spicy and animal notes. Try with
Provençal beef stew, leg of mutton with garlic, chicken sauteed with onions… The
white and rosé wines, produced on a much smaller scale, are well-balanced and
round. The rosés with their fruity bouquet of pear drop and quince paste, pair
with barbecues and cooked cold pork meats. The whites exude floral fragrances
(linden) or white peach and honey, depending on the varietal. Notes of kiwi and
grapefruit may also be present. They are well suited to grilled fish and shellfish.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages
Overview: set within the Côtes du Rhône area, this appellation embraces 95
towns and villages spread over the departments of Drôme, Vaucluse, Gard and Ardèche. This takes it either side of the Rhône, from the south of Montélimar to
the south of Avignon. Soil types vary from granite in the north, alluvium on a
limestone bedrock in the south, both of which often come together in the shape
of gravely terraces. The climate is Mediterranean, hot and dry, with the
characteristic Mistral wind and maximum sunshine. The term Côtes du Rhône
Villages can feature as such on the label or it can be extended with the name of
one of 17 villages – Cairanne, Chusclan, Laudun, Puymeras, Roaix, Rochegude,
Rousset, Sablet, Saint-Maurice, Saint-Gervais, Saint-Pantaléon, Séguret,
Signargues, Valréas and Visan, as well as two site-specific areas: Plan de Dieu
and Massif d’Uchaux.
Wine styles: AC Côtes du Rhône Villages produces sturdy, heady wines which do
not go overboard on tannic astringency and have a silky finish. Principal aromas
are fig, stone fruits and liquorice. They pair with cured mountain hams, wild boar
stew, bull casserole and cheeses.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne
Overview: Cairanne is situated in the Vaucluse department, in the southern
Rhône Valley. Vines grow here on red soil, sandstone, clay terraces and sandy
molasse. The appellation produces red, rosé and white wines.
Wine styles: the red wines are well-structured, unctuous and spicy with an
elegant finish. They display aromas of small black fruit, leather and spices. This
type of wine does in fact pair well with spices, Asian or exotic cuisine. The rosé
wines are lively and well-balanced. The white wines are round and elegant with
floral and vegetal tones (grilled fish).
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Chusclan
Overview: an area spread over five villages in Gard. The vines occupy gravely
hills and terraces and occasional sandy patches. The appellation produces red
and rosé wines.
Wine styles: the reds are well-balanced, easy drinking wines with average
strength. Try with stew or roast beef. The fleshy, unctuous rosés make good
partners for subtly-flavoured cold cuts or barbecued meats.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun
Overview: the vines are planted on stony or gravely slopes, terraces formed of
pebbles, covering three villages in Gard. Laudun produces red, rosé and white
Wine styles: the red wines with their crimson hue are powerful and tannic. They
exude aromas of stone fruit and spices. They can be served with meat, game or
cheese. The delicate, supple rosé wines display enticing floral aromas. The fat,
fruity white wines are buttressed by moorland notes. They pair with shellfish,
grilled fish and poultry.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Massif d’Uchaux
Overview: AC Massif d’Uchaux is spread over five villages in Vaucluse. Soil type is
mainly siliceous and limestone sandstone at elevations of between 100 and
Wine styles: tightly-woven red wines displaying attractive body and fat are grown
here. The standard of quality is excellent and the wines are very consistent.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu
Overview: the area embraces four villages and occupies an extensive alluvial
terrace topped with Quaternary limestone stones. Beneath the stones is either
blue clay (Pliocene) or sandstone beds which draw up all-important water during
the summer months. The name ‘Plan de Dieu’ is derived from the many local
religious foundations which grew vines here over a long period of time.
Wine styles: Plan de Dieu produces powerful, well-balanced red wines suited to
barbecues and meat served in a sauce.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Puyméras
Overview: this area extends over five villages set in steep-sided valleys
(elevations ranging from 220 to 600 metres) straddling Drôme and Vaucluse. It
occupies stony terraces littered with pebbles.
Wine styles: Puyméras produces powerful, well-structured red wines.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Roaix
Overview: the Roaix area is set between Rasteau and Séguret. It stretches over
land belonging to the village of the same name, in the Vaucluse department. The
vines occupy stony or gravely terraces and decalcified clay slopes. Roaix
produces red, rosé and white wines.
Wine styles: the reds are supple, delicate and extremely feminine wines with
subtle tannins. They display aromas of red fruit and spices. The rosé wines are
extremely fruity and refreshing. The white wines are fresh and well-balanced. Thereds pair with game and red meat, the rosés barbecues and cooked cold pork
meats and the whites, fish.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Rochegude
Overview: the Rochegude area is spread over a single village of the same name
in southern Drôme. It produces red, rosé and white wines.
Wine styles: the red wines are supple, round and warm with fragrances of black
fruit and peach stone. The rosé wines are powerful and unctuous with a slightly
acidulous flavour. They display aromas of red fruit (red currant, raspberry). The
whites exhibit tell-tale vegetal flavours and floral tones (honeysuckle).
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Rousset-les-Vignes
Overview: the area covers just one village, Rousset-les-Vignes, in the Drôme
department. Sheer hillside sites of sandstone and stone soils are home to the
Wine styles: only red wines are grown here. They display a characteristic deep
ruby-red hue, compact body, well-integrated tannins and woody flavour. They are
suited to cellaring and reward a few years ageing by gaining finesse. They display
fragrances of red fruit and are a perfect match for all types of meat.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet
Overview: the entire area is set in just one village, Sablet, which is adjacent to
Gigondas in the Vaucluse department. The soils are sandy and clayey. Sablet
produces red, rosé and white wines.
Wine styles: the red wines are full, round and well-structured, with elegant
overtones. They display aromas of red fruit, violet and blackcurrant and pair well
with game. The powerful, fat, warm rosés exhibit a fruity bouquet with
predominant aromas of raspberry. They are a good match for barbecues. The
white wines display well-integrated acidity and fragrances of green apple and
freshly-cut hay, evolving over time into aromas of gingerbread. Try with fish and
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Séguret
Overview: the area covers the village of Séguret in the Vaucluse department.
Séguret produces red, rosé and white wines on hillside sites and calcareous clay
Wine styles: the red wines are supple and fruity with a fruity bouquet, almond and tobacco tones. They can be served with poultry. The rosés and the whites are
delicate and elegant, developing a fruity bouquet brimming with freshness. Try
with fish, seafood and cheese.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues
Overview: this is the most southerly of the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellations
with a site specific name. Pebbled terraces, sand or Pliocene marl reddened by
iron oxide at an average elevation of 150 metres above the Rhône, provide the
context for the wines.
Wine styles: Signargues only produces red wines.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint-Gervais
Overview: the entire area covers the village of Saint-Gervais in the Gard
department. The soils are sandstone on the hillside sites and more stony on the
plateau. Saint-Gervais produces red, rosé and white wines.
Wine styles: the elegant, well-balanced, unctuous red wines are long on the
palate and suitable for cellaring. They display aromas of red and stone fruit and
are a good match for game, either roasted or served with a sauce. The rosé wines
are elegant, fat and warm with fragrances of raspberry and strawberry. Try them
with aubergine caviar, crudités, melon or Parma ham. The white wines are fresh
and light with a fresh, floral bouquet. Marry them with grilled fish, prawn kebabs
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint-Maurice
Overview: the entire area covers the village of Saint-Maurice-sur-Eygues in the
Drôme department. The soil is calcareous clay, with varying amounts of gravel,
and some areas of lighter sandstone. Saint-Maurice produces red, rosé and white
Wine styles: the red wines are elegant, not overly powerful, with a distinctively
full attack and pleasant finish. They display a bouquet of red fruit leading into
woody notes as they age. The rosés are characteristically fresh with a fresh,
fruit-forward bouquet. The whites are extremely aromatic with fragrances of
peach, apricot and violet.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint-Pantaléon-les-Vignes
Overview: the area covers the village of Saint-Pantaléon, in the southern part of
the Drôme department. The vines occupy calcareous clay hillsides with a few
sandy patches and produce red and rosé wines.
Wine styles: the red wines are well-balanced with supple tannins and good length
on the palate. The rosé wines are delicate, with a slight fruit flavour. Both the
reds and the rosés display a fruity bouquet. The reds can be served with coq au
vin or Provencal-style chicken. Cooked cold pork meats are the perfect match for
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas
Overview: the are covers the village of Valréas, in the Vaucluse department.
Hillside sites and terraces of red clay with varying amounts of stones are home to
the vines. Valréas produces red, rosé and white wines.
Wine styles: the red wines are moderately powerful and are well-balanced and
round. They display aromas of red fruit (raspberry, red currant and blackcurrant).
The rosé wines are extremely fruity and acidulous. The white wines are dry, lively
and aromatic, fruity with vanilla tones. The reds and the rosés can pair with
barbecues and the whites with grilled fish and seafood.
A.C. Côtes du Rhône Villages Visan
Overview: the area covers the village of Visan in the Vaucluse department. The
soil is calcareous clay and extremely stony. Visan produces red, rosé and white
Wine styles: the red wines are full and supple with elegant tannins. They exhibit a
complex bouquet of fruit, vanilla, blackcurrant and truffle. The rosés are elegant
and fresh with a slight peppery touch. The whites are unctuous and fruity with
fragrances of crushed grapes and lemon peel. All three are the perfect match for
truffle-based dishes (scrambled eggs with truffles for example).
A.C. Côtes du Vivarais
Overview: situated in the north-western portion of the southern Côtes du Rhône,
this area straddles the departments of Ardèche and Gard, with 577 hectares
under vine. Of the 14 villages it embraces, only Orgnac, Saint-Remèze and
Saint-Montan are entitled to add their name to the appellation. The soils are
shallow calcareous clay. Varietals used are Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault
Wine styles: the deeply-coloured red wines are well-balanced and well-structured
with a long-lasting finish. Aromas of bell pepper, violet, blackcurrant and raspberry are present. Try them with meat served in a sauce or game. The rosés
are harmonious, round and delicious (fragrances of red currant, blackcurrant,
raspberry and floral notes) and pair with lamb loin chops. The whites are vigorous
and well-balanced on the palate. They develop a floral bouquet (acacia,
hawthorn), white fruit (quince, apple, peach) and a touch of hazelnut. Try with
fish soup, trout or goats cheese.
A.C. Crémant de Die
Overview: this appellation shares the same boundaries as Clairette de Die. The
Clairette varietal forms the backbone of the blend, though a little Aligoté and
small berry Muscat can be added. Crémant de Die is vinted traditionally. After
pressing and initial must fermentation, secondary fermentation occurs in the
bottle after a blend of sugar and yeasts has been added. The sediment (dead
yeast deposits) is subsequently removed by disgorging.
Wine styles: Crémant de Die is a sparkling white wine with a brilliant, gold-tinted
hue and small bubbles. As a rule, it is fresh, dry and soft with good length on the
palate. Aromas of fresh flowers and a tell-tale buttery touch are present. Try as an
appetiser or with fish.
Overview: this area is set in the northern part of the Rhône Valley. It forms a
boundary around Hermitage in the north and south and embraces 11 villages
surrounding Tain-l’Hermitage. Soil types vary greatly with primarily granite
hillside sites in the north and alluvium and terraces covered with pebbles of
various origins in the south. The red wines are made from Syrah, the white wines
from Marsanne and Roussanne.
Wine styles: the Crozes-Hermitage appellation produces red and white wines. The
deeply-coloured red wines are supple and aromatic. They display aromas of
blackcurrant, vanilla, cinnamon, liquorice and menthol notes. Try with a rack of