Benevolent, restful, and cut through with little valleys, Saint-Maurice is an accessible, luminous hillside. A tremendous breeding-ground for chunky, warm-hearted wines.Christophe Tassan
There are more than 60 communes in France bearing the name of St. Maurice. So who was this character? A Roman officer, head of the Theban legion, Maurice was recruited in Egypt and converted to Christianity together with his soldiers. Rather than break a promise he had made with the Christian adversaries of the Emperor Maximian, he refused to fight against them. His cohort was decimated (one in ten executed), and Maurice martyred, at the beginning of the 3rd century AD. The little village of St-Maurice is built around a vineyard protected by the proudest of Christian centurions!
Already operative in the Gallo-Roman period, the vineyards were really developed in the 14th century, when the village was owned by the “Dauphins”. In the 18th century, St-Maurice wines first came to prominence, thanks to the arrival of the “Tinto” (Mourvèdre) and Xérès grape varieties, which were cultivated among the olive trees. In 1952, St-Maurice wines were granted Côtes du Rhône status, and in 1964, earned the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation.
Native to the Drôme area, the vines grow on plots totalling 158 hectares, where they are protected from late frosts and freezing fog. On the south-facing slopes, they enjoy maximum exposure to the sun and are sheltered from the prevailing wind: the Mistral. The reds are elegant, not overpowering, firmly held together by subtle, silky tannins. The whites have a bouquet of violets and white blossom. Like the rosés, they are invigorating and refreshing on the palate.
The appellation’s still red wines must include more than 50% Grenache noir grapes and a minimum of 20% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre, with other varieties making up no more than 20% of the mix. They can be aged for several years.
Rosés must contain at least 50% Grenache, 20% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre and no more than 20% of other grape varieties. White grape varieties (Grenache, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Viognier) must not account for more than 20% of the mix. These wines should be drunk young.
In the composition of AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages white wines, Grenache blanc, Clairette blanche, Marsanne blanche, Roussanne blanche, Bourboulenc blanc and Viognier blanc make up more than 80% of the blend. These are “vins de table”, which should be drunk without delay.
The minimum alcohol content for the appellation’s red wines is 12,5°, while for the rosés and whites it is 12°.
Many artefacts (pottery, amphorae, coins) were found in the 19th century during archaeological excavations on the site of Saint Maurice sur Eygues. They bear witness to the importance of the Roman colonisation of this area and its link with viticulture.
The village wine cellar boasts an item which is unique in the Rhone Valley: a barrel dating from the 13th century. A charter drawn up in 1333 sets out the liberties granted to the village folk in return for feudal rights over the vineyards and their wine. In the early 18th century, the Marquis de la Charce, governor of the Nyons region, sang the praises of Saint Maurice wines.
In 1953, the local wines were was granted the appellation Côtes du Rhône Saint-Maurice sur Eygues and, in 1967, Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint-Maurice sur Eygues
View the decrees granting appellation status (INAO)1967Birth of AOC Saint-Maurice
The wine-growing area is in the territory of Saint-Maurice sur Eygues, at the gateway to the Nyons region, in the département of Drôme.
Mediterranean type, sheltered from the mistral, exposure north-south.
Layey limestone, more or less gravelly; lighter sandstone areas.
surface area184 hectares
Total production6 935 hl
- 90% Red
- 9% White
- 1% rosé
Average yield achieved38 hl/ha
*Export figures according to the most recent research
Source : Harvest statement 2016