Follow the river! Along the length of its winding waters and gentle banks, Côte du Rhône vineyards thrive across 171 rich and varied terroirs and vineyards, all bathed in the same bountiful sun.
Take the time to explore them: their variety and distinctive characters are sure to surprise. Among them, unsuspected gems await discovery... The vineyards of AOC Côtes du Rhône work in harmony with a single same aim: to give you the best wines, from culture to assembly. And one thing is sure: the wines of this AOC are predominantly red, and all of them are generous, fine, pleasant, and spiced.
21 grape varieties are officially included in the appellation. While the climate and the soil has conditioned the vines, the resulting clean properties, finesse, and rich assembly are primarily the result of the winemakers’ hard work. The reason behind their hard work? To instill, within each bottle, perfect balance and harmony.
In the red wines, Grenache, the base variety, brings fruity flavours, warmth, and body. Syrah and Mourvèdre give the wine their spicy aromas, and a colour and structure suitable for ageing. Cinsault adds to the wine’s finesse and is perfect for nouveau wines that are sold in the same year they are harvested and rosés.
The white wines marry aromas and freshness through the assembly of different grape varieties such as Bourboulenc, Grenache blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette, and/or Viognier.
Once again at the behest of the winemakers, the Appellation was modified in 1996 with the aim of consolidating the character of the Côtes du Rhône’s wines. For red and rosé wines, Grenache must constitute at least 40% of the grapes (except for wines in the northern area made using Syrah).
Likewise, for white wines, 80% of the grapes must be made up of Grenache blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, and Viognier.
The grape harvest: this traditional festival brings both banks of the Rhône together as well as the towns that lie along them from Switzerland to the Camargue, and Vienne in Avignon. The grape harvest has become a traditional festival that has been taken to heart by the residents of Avignon and neighbouring regions, and is of course popular with the many tourists still around over this period.
A genuine Roman “river”. The Rhône Valley has always been a convenient corridor between the Mediterranean and Northern or Atlantic Europe. Significant archaeological finds have been unearthed in the region, establishing the Côtes du Rhône as one of the world’s first wine producing regions.
In 125 BC, the Romans founded the town and vineyards of Vienne. They planted vines and built the walls that protect the terraces, making the region one of the most beautiful in all Narbonese Gaul, the Roman province stretching from the Mediterranean in the south to the Alps and the Cévennes in the north and west.
In the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, wine production is detailed in various documents, and the 17th and 18th centuries saw the region’s wine production flourish and the vineyard began to export its wines. In the 15th century, one of the Viguerie d’Uzés’ administrative courts was named “Coste du Rhône”, and produced well-known wines.
In 1650, regulations were introduced to ensure that the wine was genuine and to preserve its quality. A royal decree in 1737 stated that all barrels destined for sale or transport must be branded with the letters “C.D.R”. But it was not until the 19th century that the Côte du Rhône became the Côtes du Rhône, when it extended to include the vineyards on the Rhône’s left-bank.
It’s reputation, centuries in the making, was confirmed by the Tournon and Uzés District Court in 1936. Propelled by Baron Le Roy – a bold visionary – this reputation was consolidated and in 1937 took the form of Côtes du Rhône AOC (Registered Designation of Origin).
In 2004, the Côtes du Rhône appellation encompassed 10 new areas suitable for the production of Côtes du Rhône AOC (nine in Gard and one in Vaucluse).
View the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)1937Birth of AOC Côtes du Rhône régional
The appellation’s vineyards extend from Vienne to Avignon. The Côtes du Rhône appellation includes 171 counties across 6 different departments (Ardèche, Drôme, Gard, Loire, Rhône, and Vaucluse), covering an area of 44,000 hectares.
Mediterranean climate. Nourished by the cleansing Mistral wind, the vineyard enjoys an exceptional climate with four distinct seasons: two dry seasons (one short winter dry season and a longer one in summer), and two rainy seasons (one in autumn with very high rainfall, and another in spring). Summer is hot and dry, owing to climbing subtropical anticyclones, interspersed with sometimes violent storms. Winters are mild. Precipitation is infrequent and snow is rare.
The regional appellation includes five main soil types. The pebbly soil of the clayey earth, stony soils, and stony spread soils (on inclines) provide the vines with a regular water supply, and throughout the night they continue to radiate the heat stored by the rocks during the day. The earth is especially suited to the production of wines intended for ageing.
Loess and sandy soils provide a contrasting water supply. They are better suited to white and rosé wines, as well as lighter reds.
surface area31 926 hectares
Total production1 205 746 hl
- 89% Red
- 4% White
- 7% rosé
Sales1 609 909 hectolitres
Export*27% exported abroad
Average yield achieved38 hl/ha
*Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2013