This is the largest appellation for vin doux naturels at 10,821 hectares. Moderately sweet wines used to be made here once from both red and white Grenache grapes. There has been a change under way here though since 1996. The areas cultivated have been significantly reduced, with the yield per hectare lowered as the growers seem to have become aware of the potential quality of their French wine. Various grape varieties are used to make these vin doux naturels: red and white Grenache, Macabeu, Malvoisie, and Muscat. There are two types of Rivesaltes: the amber-coloured wine produced with white grapes, and the roof-tile red wine of at least 50 per cent Grenache Noir. The better cuvées (Rivesaltes hors d'age) should be kept for at least five years.
The young ordinary Rivesaltes should be drunk at approx. 12°C (53 .6°F), while the better ones are best at 14-16°C (57.2-60.8°F) for a good French wine taste.
Muscat de Rivesaltes
Amidst the vineyards of Maury, Rivesaltes, and Banyuls, 4,540 hectares are planted with Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Petits Grains. The Muscat of Alexandria imparts breadth to the Muscat de Rivesaltes in addition to aromas of ripe fruits, raisins, and roses, while the Muscat Petits Grains is responsible for the heady bouquet of exotic citrus fruit and suggestion of menthol for a good French wine. This Muscat de Rivesaltes is at its fruitiest when still very young. Drink this French wine at 8-10°C (46.4-50°F) .