Côtes du Rhône Villages (Named)
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSablet
Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet is a relatively small appellation (345 hectares) surrounding the medieval village which is built on a sandy mound. The southern edge of the Sablet appellation borders the cru of Gigondas and some great value wines can be found from this appellation.
As the village name suggests (“sable” = sand), a large part of the terroir is sandy which gives rise to concentrated but silky reds. The sand also provides freshness which is why Sablet produces a little more white wine (8% of the total) compared to the average of the Rhone (5%). Indeed many producers are continuing to increase their planting of white grape varieties.
The terroir can be split into three distinct types. The majority is gently sloping vineyards of sandy soils, de-calcified red clays and gravelly pebbles which rises from altitude of 112 metres to 419 metres into the beautiful Dentelles de Montmirail hills.
Soils on the Briguières escarpment that borders the Gigondas cru contain more clay and thus a deliver a more fuller-bodied, tannic style of red. Below the village, the sandier soils mix with clay and large rocks the closer they get to the edge of the flatter Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu appellation.
Sablet was awarded AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages status in 1974 for its red, white and rosé wines.
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu
Plan de Dieu (“Plateau of God”) derives its name from the fact that various religious communities encouraged vineyards to be developed on this plateau during the Middle Ages. In 2005, the recd wines were granted AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages status.
The vines grow on a bed or red clay packed to a depth of 10 metres with a mass of smooth-rolled pebbles. The red clay and stone terroir combine to produce concentrated reds with good tannin feel in the mouth. The nose is reminiscent of the surrounding garrigue (scrubland), with scents of thyme and bay leaf.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSéguret
Officially “one of the most beautiful villages in France”, this delightful and historic village is perched on a west-facing hill amongst the Dentelles de Montmirail hills. Séguret was awarded AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages status in 1967 for its red, white and rosé wines.
The majority of the terroir at the foot if the village is sandy which produces very fragrant and silky reds, and fresh white and rosé wines. The terroir above the village is more stoney and a touch cooler, allowing producers, such as Domaine du Pourra produce quite different styles of wines – concentrated with higher acidity – which are best drunk after a few years of ageing.
Rosés and whites also have a distinctive freshness, with flavours of tropical fruit and white flowers.
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas
This northern part of the Vaucluse, is totally enclosed within the Drôme département. Pope John XXII was so impressed by the wine of Valrèas (during the Avignon Papal era of the 14th century) that he annexed the land so that he could have permanent access. He later took possession of Richerenches and Visan and this area became known as the Papal Enclave, with Valréas as its capital, until the French Revolution.
The vineyards were awarded Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas status in 1967.
The vineyards owe their distinctive qualities to their position on the hillsides, which are north and west-facing, at high altitudes. The predominantly clay soils, retain their coolness and humidity, and are less vulnerable to drought than those which experience the full force of the sun. The stream of cold air descending from the Alpine foothills further cools the vines. Syrah benefits from this slightly cooler microclimate is thus more widely planted than in other more southerly areas of the Rhône valley.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesVaison-la-Romaine
This is one of the higher appellations, located in the north of Vaucluse and linking the northern and southern Côtes du Rhône. It successfully grows both the classic southern Grenache and the traditional northern Syrah. The vineyards are based in the hills, between 240 and 280 metres in altitude and are surrounded by olive groves.
Vines have been growing on the slopes of Vaison-la-Romaine since Roman times; remains found at the area’s famous archaeological sites show the grandeur of the region’s illustrious past and confirm the age of the surrounding vineyards.
In the 17th century, two confréries (wine guilds) were established here, both dedicated to St. Vincent – one in 1600 in Villedieu, the other in 1625 in Vaison-la-Romaine.
The vineyards were awarded Côtes du Rhône Villages Valréas status in 2016.
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Chusclun
illsides and terraces of rounded cobbles are devoted to growing Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, the appellation’s three primary varietals. They produce well-coloured red wines with flavours of red and black berry fruit and spices, and are rounded, supple and generous. With a little less body than some of their neighbours, Chusclan reds can be enjoyed young, or after a year or two in the cellar, depending on the vintage.
These are easy-drinking, sun-drenched wines Chusclan also makes very popular rosé wines. Although they make up only a small part of total production, they have plenty of character, and were the reason for the appellation’s early popularity. The rosés grow in sandy clay soils, and are quite unexpectedly bold: candy pink, with red berry fruit and spice flavours, and a striking, intense freshness. And these are just some of the treasures tucked away in this quiet corner of the Gard.
The rosés were awarded Côtes du Rhône Villages Chusclan status in 1967, followed by the reds in 1971.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesRoaix
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne
The Gadagne vineyards lie just a few kilometres east of Avignon, and provide magnificent views over the city and its Palais des Papes. The valley of the Durance lies to the south, the mountains of Vaucluse and the Luberon to the east, the Rhône to the west and the plains of Comtat Venaissin and Mont Ventoux to the north.
On the west side of the hill, the borders of the erstwhile Papal territory also set the boundary for this superb terroir. In the mid-1980s, an experimental vineyard was established with the aim of improving quality further still. By grouping together all the AOC-authorised varietals, this experimental area allowed growers to observe the various facets of Côtes du Rhône appellation wines, and work towards achieving the best possible quality. In recognition of their improved quality, Gadagne wines were awarded AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Gadagne in 2012.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSaint Maurice
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Laudun
History tells us that the first vines were almost certainly planted on the slopes of an oppidum (Roman hilltop settlement) around which the village developed, while archaeologists have found remains of wine amphorae decorated with vine motifs on this site. In 1967, Laudun officially became Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation authorised to feature its village name.
The vineyards cover 561 hectares and produce some delightful, easy drinking reds. They are also justly acclaimed for their whites which represent 25% of the production. The sandy, clay terroirs of Laudun give freshness and acidity to the wines. Laudun’s main white varietal is Clairette, which is more widespread than elsewhere in the Côtes du Rhône. It is blended with Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Bourboulenc. On these light soils, Syrah joins Grenache Noir to give rounded, fruity red wines. Rosés are clear and bright in colour with scents of strawberries and a lovely freshness.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesRochegude
The village was originally known as Roche Aigues (sharp rocks), then became Roche Acuta in Roman times, and changed over the years, as language does, to Rochegude. This was one of the Rhône Valley’s best wine growing areas, producing wines that were highly regarded by the Romans.
The vineyards are planted in light, flint-rich soils, and produce easy drinking, fresh and fruity reds. The appellation has also built up an enviable reputation for its rosés, which combine delicious red fruits, raspberries and redcurrants with a refreshing roundness on the palate. The wines were awarded AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Rochegude status in 1967.
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Rousset-les-Vignes
Perched on the Lance mountain massif, the village is one of the northernmost appellations in the southern Rhône Valley, and with only 60 of its 300 hectares under production, it is also one of the smallest. The hills where the vines grow consist of sand and fossilised seashells deposited by the sea approximately eighteen million years ago. From these light soils comes a range of fruity, supple wines with smooth tannins. As one climbs the slope, the wines become fuller-bodied and more structured. The appellation rosés, show delightful flavours of red berry fruit. Rousset-les-Vignes became a Côtes du Rhône Villages with geographical name in 1969.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSaint-Andéol
Picture a landscape where the red of the Mediterranean earth vies with the blue of the Provençal sky, where the vines draw strength from the rich clay nestling in the hollows of vast limestone mountains between the Ardèche, the Rhône and the Plateau des Gras. A breath-taking landscape in a Protected Nature Reserve.
Wine growing in this small area of 49 hectares dates back to ancient times. Archaeologists have found evidence of a significant Roman settlement on the plain of Alba where, as they worked the land, winegrowers uncovered cut stones and fragments of marble. There are also traces of amphora manufacturing in Saint Just d’Ardèche. In 2017, INAO promoted the wines of Saint-Andéol to Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint-Andéol status.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSainte-Cécile
Here in the lowlands on the banks of the Aygues, wine growing dates back to ancient times. The appellation, where 30% of the vineyards are farmed organically feature three cooperatives and fifteen private wineries. The vineyards of 303 hectares are spread across a wide plain.
A bronze statue of Baron Le Roy stands in the village square in Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes with the dedication: “From the winegrowers of the Côtes du Rhône – with gratitude – to one of their own.” Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarie, also known as Baron Le Roy (1890-1967), was the inspiration behind the new system of wine appellations in France. He was co-founder of INAO, the National Institute for Designations of Origin, and the French Wine Academy. He was also president of the International Office for Vine and Wine. Sainte-Cécile became a Côtes du Rhône Villages with geographical name in 2016.
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages St-Gervais
Wine growing in this commune did not really take off until after the crisis caused by phylloxera, the pest which ravaged vast swathes of European vineyards in the late 19th century. The St-Gervais vineyards were first replanted in the valley of the Cèze and then extended to cover large parts of the hillsides just thirty years ago. The small vineyard area of 62 hectares is based on stony, gravel soils with an east-west orientation. The terroir produces mellow, easy-drinking red wines with notes of red berry fruits and spices. Rosés are full-bodied with good length of flavour, while the whites show attractive floral notes.
Continuing efforts to improve the quality of Saint Gervais wines were rewarded when in 1974 the village was granted Côtes du Rhône Villages status with geographic name.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSaint-Pantaléon-les-Vignes
The vineyards where lavender and olive trees mingle, cover 400 hectares and are planted at the foot of the Montagne de la Lance, protected from wind and west-facing to catch the last rays of the setting sun. Grapes ripen slowly and steadily to ensure good concentration, and grow in clay-rich
soils giving smooth, silky, well-balanced reds with fruity flavours. Rosés have a rounded, supple profile with flavours of wild strawberry and a light floral touch. Whites are much more uncommon here, but are similar in style.
Saint-Pantaléon-les-Vignes was officially awarded AOC status by INAO in a decree dated 1969.
AOC Côtes du Rhône VillagesSuze-la-Rousse
Growing amid fields of lavender and truffle oaks, the vineyards of Suze-la-Rousse are steeped in evocative scents distilled by the mellow sunshine of Drôme Provençale.
Suze-la-Rousse boasts two cooperative cellars and around 20 private wineries producing well-coloured, aromatic wines.
Visitors can view the entire vineyard area in one sweeping glance from the mediaeval fortress of Suze-la-Rousse built on its rocky promontory, Since 1978, the fortress, once the property of the Princes of Orange, has housed the internationally acclaimed Wine University, offering a wide range of wine-inspired training courses. It is also an information centre and wine laboratory, organises regular tastings and is home to the Commanderie des Côtes du Rhône wine guild.
AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues
Signargues is situated halfway between Avignon, the city of the Popes, and the Roman aqueduct of Pont du Gard. In 736, it was the scene of a fearsome battle between Charles Martel’s troops and the Saracens then occupying the south of France. The first part of the name, “Sign”, refers to the blood shed during these historic invasions, while “Argues” derives from the name of the Roman city. And the vineyards are still there, bearing witness to this historic past. They are planted on what used to be the Rhône’s riverbed. As it journeyed down from the Alps, the river deposited rounded cobbles, red with iron oxide. These vines produce some of the best red wines; the ever-present garrigue gives them distinctive aromas of forest undergrowth and black fruit.
The appellation was awarded Côtes du Rhône Villages Signargues status in 2005.