AOC Beaume de Venise
Vin Doux Naturel
The vineyards are located on the east and south-east slopes at the foot of the rocky Dentelles de Montmirail. While the name “de Venise” conjures up an Italian city it’s actually a distortion of “de Venisse”, meaning “of the Comtat Venaissan” or “Comtat Avignonnais”.
Beaumes de Venise‘s reputation owes much to the wonderful fortified Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) Muscat de Beaumes de Venise wine. Greek colonists planted the first Muscat vines in Beaumes around 600BC. From 1309 onwards, Pope Clement V owned muscat producing facilities. Even though the religious wars caused the vineyards to shrink during the Middle Ages, the nobility consumed Muscat on a regular basis.
Vin Doux Naturel Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise was officially awarded AOC Cru status in 1945, and applied retroactively to the 1943 vintage. In 1957, Beaumes de Venise dry red wines were included in the Côtes du Rhône production area.
Then in 1978, having recognised of the quality of the terroir, Beaumes-de-Venise growers were able to label their red wines Côtes du Rhônes Villages Beaumes-de-Venise. Thanks to almost thirty years of dedicated work in the vineyards and the cellars, the improved quality of the reds meant that Beaumes-de-Venise officially became a Côte du Rhône cru. So now, Beaumes de Venise is cru for dry red and VDN Muscat wines.
The Dentelles de Montmirail hills protect the hillside vineyards from the mistral winds. Facing East-South-East, they receive optimum exposure to the sun and guarantee uniform maturity. Beaumes-de-Venise wines come from three major soil types that give the cru its unique personality.
The VDN is produced from Muscat à Petits Grains Noir and Blanc with a fortification of the wine through an addition 5 to 10% addition of virtually pure alcohol that arrests the fermentation, thus leaving a small amount of residual sugar (minimum of 252g/L). The wines must contain at least 100g/L of sugar and feature at least 15% alcohol content.
The VDN wines are golden in colour, with a nose of flowers and tropical fruits, and have a long finish. Though typically drunk young, the wines often acquire delightful toffee aromas and flavours with age which pair well with appropriate deserts.
The red wines take their character from a group of grape varieties, with the two main varieties being Grenache (at least 50% of planted vines) and Syrah (25% to 50% of vines planted). Grenache noir is rich in phenolic compounds and brings hints of summer fruits, licorice, and spices. Syrah brings colour, greater fragrance, and a long finish. Mourvèdre complements the first two varieties with its more complex aromas of black fruits, leather, and woodland.
Dry white is not a permitted style for the cru label, but many growers produce dry Muscat white wines under the IGP (Vin de Pays) label which are ideal for aperitifs.