Given its location and the role it’s had in shaping the history of the vineyards, Avignon is very much the capital of the Côtes du Rhône. Its history goes hand in hand with the story of the appellations, like a symbiotic relationship where each strengthens the other’s reputation. Avignon’s near-obsession with Côtes du Rhône wines, its love and support for them, is evident all over town: in its buzzing restaurants, and through wine-related events such as the Bar à Vins des Côtes du Rhône in July, the Ban de Vendange (harvest celebrations) in late August, or the Millévin Festival celebrating the new vintage, held on the 3rd Thursday in November.
When it comes to making wine, we know what we’re doing – and so we should; we’ve been doing it for over 2,000 years. That’s quite enough time to get to know our own little part of France and figure out what works best. We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the years – times of crisis and times of plenty – but we’ve always come up smiling. And now we proudly boast over 5,000 winemakers and merchants, making wines the world loves. You can take a Côtes du Rhône wine anywhere – they’re cool enough to party, smart enough to impress.
This has been the basis of our success – countless individual adventures drawn together into one big story – and we hope to make you as passionate about our wines as we are!
Terroir is what gives wine a ‘sense of place’. It’s not an easy concept, but can be loosely defined as the way environment and people affect the flavour and character of the wine. It includes anything that differentiates one vineyard area from another. For example, the Rhône Valley has had a pretty turbulent geological past – as riverscapes often do – creating steep slopes, rolling hillsides and a huge variety of different soil types. All this has an impact on the way the Côtes du Rhône vines grow and ripen, and ultimately on the wine. Meanwhile, 2,000+ years of experience have honed the way we make our wines; that’s included too. Add lots of sunshine and the various weather phenomena we see across this vast appellation and you have an enormous range of different terroirs, all of which produce distinctively different, but always deliciously laid-back, reds, whites and rosés.
The Rhône Valley’s geography and climate would be nothing without the creativity, craftsmanship and sheer hard work of our winegrowers and winemakers, who take the wonders nature has given us and spin them into pure gold. We’re incredibly proud that their skill and expertise inspires generations of new winemakers across the world. One of our particular specialities here in the Côtes du Rhône is blending, and we have quite a selection of varietals to work with, giving us endless possibilities in terms of flavour and aroma. The appellation grows 23 varietals in total, the best-known being Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne, all native to the Rhône Valley.
Our blends have proved a source of inspiration in the New World, where ‘Rhône Blends’ is a term commonly used for wines inspired by the Côtes du Rhône. Quite an accolade!
The Côtes du Rhône appellation was awarded AOC status – a classification denoting quality and authenticity – in 1937, just two years after the AOC system was set up. The sheer speed with which accreditation was granted shows how good the wines must be! The Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation, one step up from the regional appellation, appeared in 1967, followed by the Côtes du Rhône Crus. The latest of these is Cairanne, with Cru status since 2016. This 3-tier hierarchy makes up the Côtes du Rhône ‘quality pyramid’, with the regional appellation at its base, Côtes du Rhône Villages (with and without village name) on the rung above, and the Crus at the apex. Strict production criteria make sure standards are met, and ensures that each wine reflects the intrinsic qualities of its terroir.
The Côtes du Rhône vineyards are in constant pursuit of excellence.