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The Crus of Côtes du Rhône Southern Rhône Valley appellations

Beaumes de Venise

Vineyards : spreads out over the south-east side of the Dentelles de Montmirail Hills (between 100 and 600 metres altitude), and the communities of Beaumes de Venise, Lafare, Suzette and La Roque Alric in the Vaucluse county.
Soil types: they are composed of soils coming from Oxonian marl , superior Cretaceous, and some Trias  unique to the Côtes du Rhône.
Climate: Mediterranean, hot because protected from the mistral wind by the Dentelles de Montmirail hillsides.
News: since 1943, the Appellation is known for its natural sweet wine, the Muscat from Beaumes de Venise. In 2005, the Appellation was consecrated as a “Cru” for its red wines which respect precise criteria :
- Suppression of the wooded areas around the defined limits of the vineyard in order to preserve the countryside, the environment, favouring the natural balance and bio-diversity.
- The grape harvest is manual only.
- The yields are moderate and controlled (38 to 42 hectolitres per hectare), with an average maximum load per parcel not exceeding 7,000 kilos per hectare.
- Enriching and flash treatment of the grapes are forbidden in the vinification.
The validity of the certificate of approval was brought back to 8 months to satisfy consumer demands.
Area under cultivation : 600 hectares, annual production : 20,000 hl ; Average yield : 38 hl / hectare.
Grape Variety mix: Black Grenache 50% minimum, Syrah 25%, Mourvèdre and other grape varieties authorized by the Appellation 20% maximum, 5% white grape varieties.
Minimum alcoholic content : 12.5°

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Cairanne

Vineyards: at the foot of the hilltop village of Cairanne, in the Department of Vaucluse, the vineyards have expanded since the 15th century towards the Plan de Dieu and the Plaine de l’Aigues.
Soil types: red earth on sandstone, stony clay-rich terraces, and skeletal soils with plenty of sandy molasse.
Climate: typical Mediterranean climate.
Background: the vineyards chiefly expanded in the Middle Ages, under the aegis first of the Knights Templars, then of the Knights Hospitaller of Saint John of Jerusalem. Cairanne’s wines were named Côtes du Rhône Cairanne in 1953, then became Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne in 1967. On 10 February 2016, Cairanne was awarded cru status and became the AOC Cairanne.
Area under production*: 956 hectares, annual production: 27,333 hl ; average yield: 35 hl/hectare.
* Source: 2013 harvest statement.
Yield: maximum yields have been reduced by 3 hl/ha to 38 hl/ha for red wines and to 41 hl/ha for whites.
Variety plantings: red and white wines may be produced. White wines account for 5% of total output.
For the reds: 50% min. Grenache, the local “king” of grapes, i.e. 10% more than for the “Villages” appellation; 20% min. Syrah or Mourvèdre, 30% max. secondary varieties (Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise).
For the whites: a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussane.
Minimum alcoholic strength: 12.5% for the reds, 12% for the whites.

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Châteauneuf du Pape

Vineyards: these cover almost all of the commune of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as some parts of the 4 neighbouring communes of Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange and Sorgues which has soils of similar composition.
Soil types: of varying depths and varying stoniness, the soil is mainly made up of large round quartz stones mixed with sandy red clay.
Climate: this is the driest region of the Côtes du Rhône; the prevailing wind is the Mistral and there are approximately 2,800 hours of sunshine per year, the heat of the day is stored by the stones and released at night.
Background: When the Papacy was established in Avignon in the 14th Century, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was selected to be the Pope’s summer residence. The seven successive Popes encouraged the wine production and the expanding of the vineyards. The strict way in which wine has been produced has remained a constant factor throughout the history of these vineyards, and acted as the basis for certain provisions when the A.O.C legislation was being drawn up. Ch âteauneuf-du-Pape was consecrated a Local A.O.C. in 1936.
Area under cultivation*: 3167 hectares, average yearly production: 97406 hl, Basic yield: 31 hl/hectare.
* Source: harvest statement 2004.
Grape Variety mix: 13 grape varieties are traditionally permitted.
Today, the main grape varieties are: Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Muscardin, Counoise, Clairette and Bourboulenc.
Pruning: Guyot pruning for the Syrah; for the other grape varieties, goblet or fan pruning with a maximum of 6 spurs and 2 eyes, with a total of 15 eyes per vine in addition to the "bourillon" or first small fertile bud. The use of wire or stakes is forbidden .
Wine making: natural alcohol content by volume for the red and whites, minimum 12.5%.

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Gigondas

Vineyards: these are located entirely within the commune Gigondas in the French Department of Vaucluse.
Soil types: stony red clay alluvium on the slopes and wide terraces.
Climate: dry, hot Southern climate with 2,800 hours of sunshine per year. The prevailing wind is the Mistral.
Background: from the 12th Century, it was the religious Houses that occupied themselves with expanding vine cultivation. Later, and right up to the 18th Century, Gigondas came within the Principality of Orange was owned by the Rh énane de Nassau family up until it was annexed by Louis XIV.
The Local Gigondas Appellation was awarded by decree in 1971.
Area under cultivation*: 1196 hectares, average yearly production: 35484 hl, Basic yield: 30 hl/hectare.
* Source: harvest statement 2005.
Grape Variety mix: for the red: maximum of 80%Grenache black and a minimum of 15% Syrah and Mourvèdre. In addition, with the exception of Carignan, a maximum proportion of 10% of all the other grape varieties within the Appellation are permitted; the grapes are sorted when harvested. For the ros é: maximum of 80%Grenache black. All the other grape varieties within the Appellation are permitted up to a maximum proportion of 25%
Pruning: Syrah, Guyot pruning. For the other grape varieties, goblet or fan pruning on a stem with a maximum of 2 productive eyes per spur, with a total of 15 productive eyes per vine, plus a "bourillon" or first fertile bud.
Wine making: long maceration, and traditional maturing in old oak casks or tuns, natural alcohol content by volume, 12.5%.

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Lirac

Vineyards: these are spread over 4 communes on the right bank of the Rhône, Lirac, Roquemaure, Saint-Laurent-des-Arbres and Saint-Géniès-de-Comolas, in the French Department of Gard.
Soil types: red terraces of rounded stones, loessal and sandy skeletal soils.
Climate: typically Mediterranean with low rainfall, with an average of 2,700 hours of sunshine per year with the Mistral as the prevailing wind.
Background: vine cultivation has been part of the local resources for two thousand years. Over the centuries, the port of Roquemaure became important and prosperous and it was from here that “Côte du Rhône” wines left for Paris, England and Holland. The “Lirac” Local Appellation was awarded by decree in 1947.
Area under cultivation*: 628 hectares, yearly production: 19861 hl, basic yield : 32 hl/hectare.
* Source: harvest statement 2004.
Grape Variety mix: mainly Grenache black, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre for the red and rosé. Mainly Clairette and more especially Bourboulenc Grenache white for the whites.
Pruning: Syrah, goblet of fan pruning with 5 or 6 spurs pruned to2 or 3 productive eyes, or Guyot pruning. For the other grape varieties, short pruning to 2 productive eyes.
Wine making: minimum natural alcohol by volume, 11.5% for red and whites. Long maceration in vats for the red wines, whilst the ros é is made by the bleeding method.

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Rasteau

Vineyards: they form the majority of the village's terrain located in the French Department of the Vaucluse.
Soil types: brow and calcareous, skeletal soil on marl and red soil on sandstone.
Climate: Mediterranean, the slopes have a Southern exposure and are slightly protected from the Mistral.
Background: the vineyards of Rasteau were, in the 17th Century, some of the largest in the Vaucluse and were known mainly for their fortified wines. Little by little, economic considerations forced the C ôtes du Rhône Villages to adopt the conditions of the Appellation, and they were consecrated C ôtes du Rhône Villages Rasteau in 1967 and were elevated to Côtes du Rhône Cru status in 2010.
Area under cultivation*: 938 hectares, yearly production: 26,824 hl; basic yield: 29 hl/hectare.
* Source: harvest statement 2013.
Grape Variety mix:
For the reds, Grenache 50% minimum, Syrah and / or Mourvèdre 20% minimum, other grape varieties of the Appellation tolerated 30% maximum.
Minimum alcoholic strength: for the red 12.5%.

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Tavel

Vineyards: these are situated in commune of Tavel, on the right bank of the Rhône, in the French Department of Gard.
Soil types: three geological formations of light filtering sandstone, fluvial sand and shingle; chalky gravel and red clay, red clay and quartzite shingle.
Climate: typically Mediterranean with low rainfall, with an average of 2,700 hours of sunshine per year with the Mistral as the prevailing wind.
Background: this was the favourite drink of the King Philippe le Bel, and later the Avignon Popes. The popularity of this, which is known as the “king of the rosé”, has never faltered. The “Tavel” Local Appellation was awarded by decree in 1936.
News: The Tavel Appellation has given its name to a rosé “La rose de Tavel”
which is a true Ambassador for the “1st rosé of France”. Actually, this rosé acts as a means of advertising for both the Appellation's wines, and the commune of Tavel.
Area under cultivation*: 933 hectares, yearly production: 39169 hl, basic yield : 42 hl/hectare.
* Source: harvest statement 2004.
Grape Variety mix: Grenache, maximum of 15% Cinsault, Clairette white and Rosé, and 10% maximum of Picpoul, Calitor, Bourboulenc, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Carignan.
Pruning: either goblet with spurs containing a maximum of 2 eyes, plus a "bourillon", or first fertile bud, or Royat cordan pruning with 6 spurs and a maximum of 2 eyes, plus a "bourillon".
Wine making: cold maceration of between 12 and 24 hours. The free running wine and the pressed juice are blended. Alcoholic fermentation at between 18 ° and 20°, takes place over 8 to 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is not automatic and depends on the nature of the wine required. Natural alcohol content by volume, minimum 11%.

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Vacqueyras

Vineyards: these are spread over the 2 communes of Vacqueyras and Sarrians, which stand at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail in the French Department of the Vaucluse.
Soil types: alluvial deposits and glacier terraces dating from the Riss period (ice age period ice period from the 1st Quaternary period, 120,000 - 300,000 years ago).
Climate: hot and dry, particularly high levels of sunshine.
Background: following the A.O.C. Côtes du Rhône Decree in 1937, Vacqueyras was one of the first villages to be acknowledged for the quality of its classified wines which were first classified “Côtes du Rhône Vacqueyras” in 1955, then, in 1995, as Côtes du Rhône Villages Vacqueyras.
Vacqueyras was consecrated Local Appellation in 1990.
News: today, a long tradition of the art of living and culture is being continued, also, since 1998, Vacqueyras has been the official Cru for the prestigious Avignon Festival.
Area under cultivation*: 1285 hectares, yearly production: 42382 hl, basic yield : 33 hl/hectare.
* Source: harvest statement 2004.
Grape Variety mix:
For the red (97% of production), Grenache black (at least 50%), Syrah, Mourvèdre (at least 20%) ; other Côtes du Rhône grape varieties , excluding Carignan, maximum 10%.
For the rosé (1% of production), Grenache (60% maximum), Mourvèdre and Cinsault (at least 15%).
For the whites (2% of production), Clairette, Grenache white , Bourboulenc, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier, each of which must not exceed 80% of the grape variety mix.
Pruning: Guyot for the Viognier ; for the other grape varieties, short goblet pruning or Royat cordon pruning of up to a maximum of 7 spurs and 2 eyes. Planting: minimum of 4,000 vine plants hectare.
Wine making: Minimum alcoholic strength 12.5% for the reds, 12% for the rosé and whites. Grapes are crushed and then fermentation takes place in vats for a minimum of 8 to 10 days; the free run wine is racked. Maturation: 12 to 18 months at 13 °-15°.

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Vinsobres

Vineyards : the vineyards surround Vinsobres, for nearly 7 km on the hillsides in  the Drome county.
Soils :  rocky soils on the hillsides ; sandy soils also on hillsides, quatenary rocky alluvial soils on the terraces.
Climate: Mediterranean, protected from the Mistral wind and alpine influences due to the nearby mountains
Background: the vineyard has always been modest in size. After the big frost in 1956 which destroyed the olive trees, the vines once more regained their honors.  Vinsobres was classified Cotes du Rhone Villages in 1957, then Cotes du Rhone Villages Vinsobres in 1967. The vineyard obtained the local appellation Vinsobres in 2005.
News: Vinsobres is a partner of the of dance and contemperary art of Lyon.
Area under cultivation (1rst harvest) 742 hectares, annual production 26,000 hectolitres ; average yield: 35 hectolitres per hectare with a potential of 1,386 hectares with an annual production of 50,000 hectolitres.
Grape Variety mix (only red wines): Black Grenache 50% minimum, Syrah 25% and/or Mourvedre, other grape varieties allowed 25% maximum.
Minimum alcoholic content : 12.5°
Source of information : official declaration of harvest 2004

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