Cotes du Rhone wine appellation in the Rhone Valley, France Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Cotes du Rhone wine appellation
Wine appellation

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Address: Provence
Country: France

The best known appellation in the Rhone Valley is the massive Cotes du Rhone which covers much of the west of Vaucluse, then across the Rhone into the Gard and then up towards the northern areas of Hermitage, Cornas, finishing at the city of Vienne.
As with Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the main grape is Grenache which must comprise at least 40% of the blend. It is supported by Shiraz (Syrah) and Mourvèdre and small quantities (less than 30% total) of Carignan, Cinsaut Counoise, Muscardin, Camarèse, Vaccarèse, Picpoul Noir, Terret Noir, Grenache Gris and Clairette Rose. Small quantities of white grapes can also be used to make red wine but the amount used must be below 5%.
The white wines used are Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Marsanne, Viognier, Roussanne and secondary grapes Picpoul Blanc and Ugni Blanc.
Because the Cotes du Rhone is such a large appellation and because the quality varies from good to excellent, a number of special appellations have been identified within the area. Wine made from vineyards in 76 villages (communes) have the right to add the word Villages to the Côtes du Rhône appellation.
In addition to these villages there are another 15 where vignerons have the right to add the name of the village to the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation. (The number used to be 16 but one of them, Beaumes de Venise has recently been elevated even further in status.)
In the Vaucluse, the villages are Cairanne, Seguret, Rasteau, Roaix, Sablet, Valreas and Visan.
Then we move up to the four high quality appellations that sit above all others in the area. These are Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and, now, Beaumes de Venise. Each of these villages has their own appellation with Châteauneuf-du-Pape being held in particular regard for the quality of its wine.
One of our favourite Côtes du Rhône producers is the Perrin brothers' Château de Beaucastel. They produce one of the best examples of wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is also useful to know that they also have an adjacent vineyard that falls just outside the appellation north of the village of Courthezon. Therefore if you can find some of their Coudoulet de Beaucastel Côtes du Rhône then grab it because the quality is comparable with the best Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines.
The same applies to Domaine Le Clos du Caillou where the Côtes du Rhône vines are separated from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vines by the A7 freeway.
Côtes du Rhône labels from the Vaucluse to seek out include Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Domaine Catherine le Goeuil, Domaine Le Clos du Caillou, Château de Fonsalette, Domaine Alary, Domaine Brusset, Domaine de la Janasse, Domaine Marcel Richaud and Domaine Trapadise.
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