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Fortified wines (Vins Doux naturels)

A.O.C. Muscat Beaumes de Venise

Vineyards: located around the slopes of Beaumes-de-Venise, on the south facing slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail.
Soil types: sandy loam to the south, and argilo-calcareou to the north.
Climate: Mediterranean, hot and dry with the mistral winds moderated by the Dentelles massif.
Background: in the 1st century A.D., Pliny the Elder mentioned the existence of Muscat in his natural history, this lively and fruity wine, long cultivated at Balme. It was nicknamed “The Bees’ Vine”.
Nearer to our own times, in the fourteenth century the Pope Clement V, a fine connaisseur, had a 70 hectare muscat vineyard planted on the slopes of the Beaumes-de-Venise.
It was in 1945 that the decree dedicating the title of A.O.C., with effect backdated to 1943, was awarded to Beaumes-de-Venise Vin Doux Naturel Muscat (Muscat forified wine).
Area under cultivation*: 489 hectares, yearly production: 13556 hl, basic yield: 28 hl/hectare.
Grape variety: Small berried Muscat, also known as ‘Muscat de Frontignan’.
The grapes must have a sugar content of more than 252 g/l.
Mutage during fermentation with pure alcohol of a minimum 95 degrees proof.
The wines must contain 110g/l of sugar and have a minimum alcohol titration of 15%.

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A.O.C. Rasteau

Vineyards: they straddle the communes of Rasteau (mainly), Cairanne and Sablet having just twenty land parcels.
Soil types: similar to those of the Côtes du Rhône Rasteau Appellation, brown calcerous soils, poor marly soils and red earthed clay based terrain. The main exposures are southern, offering a high level of grape maturity to the vine.
Climate: typically Mediterranean, characterised by heat and sun, which explains how harvests often promise high alcohol production and lend themselves easily to the creation of fortified wines.
Background: in 1934, the wine makers made an audacious experiment in the creation of fortified wine. The result was satisfactory. At this time, the commune was divided between vines, fruit trees and olives. Production of fortified wines expanded. The Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel A.O.C. was recognised by the decree of the 5th January 1944 (effectiveness backdated to 1943) which was to later be superseded and replaced by the decree of the 18th May 1972.
Area under cultivation: 47 hectares, yearly production: 1403 hl, Basic yield: 21 hl/hectare.
Grape variety: the grape variety mix is simple: Grenache black must represent at least 90% to the exclusion of other fortified wine grape varieties (malvoisie, maccab éo and muscats). The remaining 10% is made up with grape varieties accepted within the C ôtes du Rhône A.O.C. In practice, the fortified wines are most often produced using 100% Grenache.
Minimum alcoholic strength: the production rules comply with the legislation for other fortified wines. Mutage must be carried out with neutral alcohol having an alcohol titration of at least 95% proof, in a proportion of 5% minimum to 10% maximum.
The minimum proof (acquired alcohol and fermentation alcohol) must be 21.5% in volume with a minimum of 15% acquired alcohol.
The minimum sugar content in the must is set at 252 gr/l.

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