Wine(actually French Wine) has been made for more than 2,000 years between Vienne and Avignon in the valley of the Rhone river. The basis of arguably the best known wine-growing region of France - Cotes du Rhone was established by the Celts, Greeks, and Romans.
This very extensive French wine region with its many different terroirs and micro climates eventually became established as a distinctive entity.
A fresh breeze
The French wine from the district around Uzes in the department of Gard enjoyed so much fame in the seventeenth century that it was readily imitated. To protect its origins and quality it was officially recognised in 1650 and its area of origin strictly defined. After a further battle lasting more than a century the Appellation Cotes du Rhone Controlee eventually became a fact in 1937. In 1956 the feared winter mistral blew at speeds of more than 62 miles/100 km per hour for three weeks and the thermometer remained stuck at about minus 59°F (15°C). Disastrously this killed all the olive trees but since the vines had survived these conditions the ruined farmers decided to switch to wine-growing.
This was the start of the enormous growth of Cotes du Rhone.
23 types of grape
There are at least 23 different varieties of grape permitted to be used in the wine-growing region of Cotes du Rhone plus the Muscat Petit Grain that is used for the naturally sweet Beaumes-de-Venise. In the northern part ofthe Rhone Valley red wine is exclusively made with Syrah but white wines are produced from Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne.
In the south they use some Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsauit, and Carignan grapes in addition to Syrah for their reds with the Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc for the white French wines.
Rhone wines are divided into four categories: the generic Appellation Cotes du Rhone Regionale, the better Cotes du Rhone Villages, the Crus, and the satellites that are geographically related but have their own identities (Clairette de Die, Cremant de Die, Vins du Diois, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux en Costieres de Nimes).
CÔTES DU RHONE AC - FRENCH WINE
About 80 per cent of the generic Côtes du Rhone produced are very good. Because this category represents such a wide diversity of terroirs, micro climates. and winemakers, the wine has an equally diverse range of aromatic properties.
Generally these are comforting and friendly wines. The red is well structured, full of aroma and taste and very rounded. It can be drunk when still young but can also be left for a while.The rose wines come from the south of the region and they range from raspberry colour to salmon pink. These roses are always fruity and yielding. The white wine is dry, well-balanced, well structured, very aromatic, and thirst-quenching.
CÔTES DU RHONE VILLAGES AC
There are 77 communes in the southern Rhone Valley which are permitted to use Côtes du Rhone Villages on the label of their wines and of these sixteen may also use the village name on the label.
The stipulations about the planting, care of the vines, yield, and wine-making for these white, rose, and red wines are more rigid. Certain of the best known Côtes du Rhone Villages are Beaumes-deVenise (red and rose), Cairanne (red, rose, and white), Chusclan (red and rose), Laudun (red, rose, and white), Rasteau (red, rose, and white), Rochegude (red, rose, and white),
|| Seguret red, rose, and white), Valreas (red, rose, and white), Vinsobres (red, rose, and white) and Visan (red, rose, and white) . These wines are ideal for drinking with Proven~al dishes. Drink the red French wine at approx. 60.8°F (16°C), the rose at approx. 57.2°F (14°C), and the white at about 53.6°F (12°C).