The Côtes Du Rhône .. or CDR for the intimate. It is 70 000 hectares of vines, from Vienne to Camargue, in 6 departments. Red wines represent the overwhelming majority with 81% of production, whites represent 6%, and rosés 13%. All for 30% of export. There are 28 appellations, and more than 5000 vineyards. In other words, the wine flows afloat along the Rhône.
What is important to understand is that the area is divided into two parts:
- The septentrional zone, in the North, known for its 8 wines. It is planted with vines planted on the slopes along the Rhone.
- The meridional zone, to the south, known for its 9 wines and its natural sweet wines (VDN). Here, the landscape is much more varied. There are plains and plateaus, but also hills and terraces. And so, vines grow everywhere.
The Mistral marks the climate along the Rhone Valley. It is a violent wind beneficial to the vine by the sunshine it brings, by clearing the clouds.
Finally, let us remember that it is in this vineyard that are produced the Natural Sweet Wines of AOC Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, and AOC Rasteau.
The appellation system of the Burgundy vineyard is divided from the least qualitative to the most qualitative in the appellation:
- Village + geographical name
- Name of the cru (There are 17 crus)
A winemaker must comply with specifications to be able to claim a name, and the more the name is prestigious, the more the specifications is restrictive (for example, no pesticide, a mandatory distance between each vine plan, ect .. .). In addition, it is logical to respect a specific geographical area. Once again, the more prestigious is the name, the smaller the area.
To better know the appellations, you will find for those interested names of appellations after “what you must remember”
Price range :
On the budget side, there are prestigious appellations such as Côte Rôtie, Hermitage or Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which are sold all over the world at very high prices. However reassure you, it is easy to find many very pleasant wines from the Rhone Valley at the wine shops at very reasonable rates. Around 10 €, you will find wines that are really worth discovering. Search for appellations such as Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cairanne or Gigondas, which will delight your taste buds and your wallet at the same time.
Vines and wines:
The grape varieties planted on the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône are:
In the septentrional area:
Syrah (red) :
It is a grape variety with low yield. Rare and precious, it is cultivated only on suitable and privileged territories. Syrah brings color, peppery aromas, fruity (raspberry and blackberry), violet, licorice, truffle and sometimes menthol. This grape allows the development of tannic but delicate wine.
Viognier (white) :
Famous American white grapes, it is mainly used in California. It is also very popular in Australia where it accounts for 70% of the area planted in white.
In our vineyard, this grape brings aromas of violet, acacia, and sometimes honey, peach and apricot. It is often said that the wines from this variety are generous.
Roussane and Marsanne (white) : The blend of these grapes very often brings floral aromas, iris, honeysuckle … It is elegant, fine, complex and offers wines of low acidity.
In the méridional area :
Grenache noir (red) :
This variety is clearly the majority in Côtes du Rhône. It charms with its warmth and the roundness of its character.
Its skin is hard, thick, and bluish, which makes it easy enough to recognize. It brings color, a strong alcoholic potential, fruity and spicy aromas, sometimes pepper. Bold, round and greedy define the Grenache.
Grenache blanc (white) : It is a vigorous grape of intermediate maturity. It offers aromas of stone fruits (peach, pear). The wines are remarkable for their roundness and length in the mouth.
3 anecdotes for the meals:
- In general, the appellations offer a limited number of grapes in its specifications (generally three or four for reds). This is not the case for the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation, which authorizes 13 grape varieties in red over its geographical area. Even so, the vast majority of castles generally use only three grape varieties in red.
- In the Hermitage appellation, straw wine is produced. This type of wine is produced by allowing bunches of grapes to dry on straw in order to concentrate the sugar level. Thanks to this, we obtain excellent sweet white wines, which are today recognized worldwide.
- Another interesting fact about the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation, in 1936, Baron Leroy succeeded after many attempts to make this area recognized as an Protected Designation of Origin , which allowed this vineyard to be part of the first PDO of the history.
What you must remember :
The vineyards of the Côte du Rhône offer us colorful red wines, rich, fruity and greedy, but also bold and aromatic white wines.
The south of this vineyard offers us mainly wines of regional appellation, generally simple and good company. While the north of the vineyard offers us the most popular wines of all by its globally recognized names.
Whatever dish you want to enjoy, you will easily find a wine from the Rhone Valley to accompany it. All in all, you will find mostly red wines that will accompany your grilled meats or cheese platters.
The history of this vineyard is probably one of the oldest of all. She has seen many important characters in history (including several popes). The winemakers of this region are honoring their heritage, offering the world wines of proven quality. Again, do not hesitate to test the unknown names to develop your references, because like everywhere, lots of excellent wines await for you.
Some reference wines:
Wine from the méridional area :
- Grande maison : maison Chapoutier, Delas, Skalli
- wine cooperative : Cave d’Ortas, cave de Cairanne, Cellier des Dauphins
- Rosé : Tavel
- Red : Vinsobres, Rasteau, Cairanne, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise,Lirac
Wine from the septentrional area :
- Grande maison : Chapoutier, Cave de Tain
- Red: Côte Rôtie, Saint Joseph (R&B), Crozes Hermitage (R&B), Hermitage (R&B), Cornas
- White: Condrieu, Château Grillet, Saint Péray (également en mousseux)
If ever the vineyard of Côtes du Rhône really interests you, I highly recommend the site of Inter Rhône which is really very complete: