Beaumes de Venise wine appellation
Beaumes de Venise is a tricky appellation to understand. The pleasant village lies just north of Carpentras and a few kilometres to the west of Caromb. The appellation covers this commune and three others in the beautiful mountain range that lies behind Beaumes de Venise. These are Lafare, Suzette et La Roque-Alric.
The drive through these communes to either Malaucène or Le Barroux is one of the most beautiful in France. It is widely known for its stunning dessert wines, however this is not the reason it gained its own appellation status in 2006. Previously it had Côtes du Rhône Villages (named village) status for its reds, which meant that qualifying wines could display Cotes du Rhone Villages Beaumes de Venise on the label. But in early 2006 it was elevated to its own appellation to sit alongside Gigondas and Vacqueyras.
Now the wines simply display Beaumes de Venise on the label.
The main grape varieties in this appellation are Grenache (which must comprise at least 50% of the plantings) and Syrah (which must comprise at least 25%). Other Cotes du Rhone varieties (such as Mourvedre) can be used but are limited to 20%.
White varieties are permitted in the red wine but are limited to a maximum of 5%. These rules will become even stricter in 2015. It is also notable that this appellation specifically prohibits the use of chemical sprays and treatments for weed control in the vineyards. Even irrigating the vines is prohibited and only natural yeasts can be used for fermentation - commercial yeasts are not permitted.
There is a separate appellation for the sweet wines known as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. Look for the reds from Domaine de la Ferme Saint Martin which is owned by Guy Julien, Domaine Saint-Amant in the picturesque village of Suzette, Domaine de Fenouillet and Chateau Redortier.