Côtes du Rhône Villages

Côtes du Rhône Villages is a higher quality and much smaller appellation than that of Côtes du Rhône, covering more than 5000ha, producing mainly red wine. Yields are lower and the minimum alcoholic strength is 12.5%, the same for that of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Whilst there are vineyards in the northern part of the Rhône, the vast majority are in the south. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape varieties of Grenache Syrah and Mourvedre are the main grapes used and are blended with each other to varying proportions depending on the individual wine. There are some villages that are allowed to add their name to the Côtes du Rhône Villages title: Vinsobres, Rousset-les-Vignes, Rochegude, St-Maurice-sur-Eygues and St-Pantaléon-les-Vignes in the Drôme; Roaix, Séguret, Valréas, Visan, Sablet, Massif d'Uchaux, Plan de Dieu, Puymeras, Cairanne, and Rasteau in Vaucluse, and Laudun, St-Gervais, Chusclan, and Signargues in the Gard. It is possible for these to be elevated to their own Appellation Controlee status, Gigondas was the first to achieve this, followed by Vacqueyras, then in 2005 Beaumes-de-Venise and Vinsobres. Cairanne and Rasteau are thought to be the two next in with a chance. Overall quality is a clear level above that of Côtes du Rhône and is much more consistent. There are a large number of high-quality, artisanal and innovative wine-growing estates in this appellation, together with many fine estates from the grander Châteauneuf-du-Pape region who also have vineyard holdings here. The top wines are to be drunk from 2-4 years after the vintage, but there are several good examples capable of ageing a year or two more than this. The area is, perhaps, one of the greatest value for money sources of red wine in France.

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