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A.O.C of the Rhône Valley

Luberon

The vineyard: The Luberon Regional Natural Park acts as the setting for the Luberon vineyards. These currently cover 36 communes, which are all situated in the south east of the Vaucluse department.
The Soil: The Luberon stems from an emerged band of land that formed, in the secondary era, an isthmus between the Vocontian Basin (Alpine sea) and the Mediterranean. There are three major geological units:
The Apt Basin, a synclinal zone where calcareous and marl strata alternate,
The Luberon massif, calcareous stratum where erosion uncovered calcareous-marl horizons,
The Pays d’Aigues, formed mainly from Miocene sands and a molasse in the Cucuron region. Calcareous strata have reappeared in the western part of south Luberon.
The Climate: Classified as Mediterranean but under the influence of a more continental climate from the Alps and Rhone Valley. The Luberon ranks among one of the most sun-drenched regions in France with approximately 2,600 hours of sun per year.
Background: The presence of vines in the Luberon goes back to antiquity. The Romans planted these vines in particular in the Pays d ’Aigues region, and then in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, the wine-growing areas spread widely, especially to the north of the Petit Luberon.
The development of the vineyards increased at the end of the 19th century and subsequently between the two wars. At the beginning of the 70s the winegrowers of the Appellation, who were conscious of the need to modernise, undertook major works. Their efforts were crowned with success in 1988 when the Cotes du Luberon obtained the Appellation of Controlled Origin.
Surface of production* : 3,756 hectares (9,277 acres), annual production: 181,484 hectolitres: basic yield: 50 hectolitres per hectare.
*Source: the Official Harvest Report 2005
Grape varieties: For red and rosé wines: Syrah and Black Grenache (minimum of 60%), Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault (maximum of 20%), other grape varieties of the Appellation that are accepted (Black Picpoul, Black Counoise, Black Gamay with white juice, Black Pinot). For white wines: White Grenache, White Ugni (limited to 50%), White Clairette, Vermentino (or Rolle), White Bourboulenc, and other secondary grape varieties that are accepted (Roussanne and Marsanne).
Minimum alcohol level : For red, rosé and white wines: 11%.


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Grignan les Adhémar

The vineyard:  Situated between Provence and Dauphiné on the left bank of the Rhone River, comprised in the triangle of Montélimar, St. Paul les 3 Châteaux and Grignan, the Appellation Grignan les Adhémar covers 2,830 hectares spread out over 21 communities. An entity where  lavender, white oak trees favouring the growth of truffles, aromatic plants and olive trees prosper. The Mistral, a predominant wind , contributes to an exceptional amount of sunshine which gives fullness and generosity to the Coteaux du Tricastin wines.
The Soil: The appellation area is made up of many different types of soil. The sub-soil is mainly clayish-limestone or sand, however, the surface changes with each zone. Frequently the vines grew in garrigue lands and brushwoods.
The Climate: Tricastin wines are the furthest north of the Mediterranean zones of the Rhone Valley; thus its climate is influenced by the nearby hills. At the foot of the Lance mountain (limestone) the weather conditions are colder with more humidity in the air. On the other hand, in St. Paul les 3 Chateaux or in Baume le Transit, the climate is typically Mediterranean.
Background: The planting of vines in the Tricastin area dates back to Antiquity. The Romans called in for help, settled here and colonized the Gallic tribe that they baptised “Tricastini”. In the 11th century a chart reveals the donation of the vines to the Abbey of St. Chaffe in Grignan … And it is in the XVIth century the famous Marquise de Sevigné immortalized the Tricastin wines in her elegant writings. Classified as VDQS wines in 1964, the vines at that time only covered 365 hectares compared to 2,500 a century before! In the 60 ’s and 70’s, the vineyard quickly expanded thanks to winegrowers coming from different wine producing areas, soon to be followed by local farmers. Coteaux du Tricastin became an appellation on July 27,1973.
Surface of production* : 2,830 hectares, annual production: 95,000 hectolitres; basic yield: 52 hectolitres per hectare.
*Source: the Official Harvest Report 2005
Grape varieties : for the red  and rosé wines: Black Grenache and Syrah (80% minimum), secondary wine varieties : Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault.
For the white wines: White Grenache, Viognier, White Clairette, Roussane, Marsanne, Bourboulenc.
Minimum alcoholic content : for red, rosé and white wines: 11°
Characterisitics of Coteaux du Tricastin wines
Tricastin is a transition zone between the northern and southern part of the Rhone Valley. Its wines can be considered in the same way. The climate and soils certainly play a big part but the grape varieties used are also a major factor.
The red Tricastin wines are made essentially with Grenache grapes, as for the most part of the southern Rhone Valley wines, but in this appellation the Syrah grapes counts for 25% of the planted varieties used for the red wine. This is sufficient to give our Tricastin wines a different and original touch.
The red Tricastin wines are therefore less heady, less ‘sunny’ wines than the other Rhone wines from the south, but they are more elegant, well-balanced, aromatic and complex. The cellars often produce several blends resulting in fruity ,well-balanced wines as well as more complex and well-structured keeping wines.
As for white wines, the grape varieties initially allowed in this appellation, were Grenache, Clairette and Bourboulenc. But in the last 15 years, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane grapes have joined the ranks. The production of white wine amounts to 5%, but they are varied and rich. The winegrowers ’ blends often reserve pleasant surprises with aromatic and well-balanced wines.
The rosé wines, made by the bleeding method, are almost always dominated by the Grenache grapes along with Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan. Wines with character, they conceal their robustness with balance and intense fruit which seduces the consumer.
The Tricastin wines are indeed to be tasted. Little known to the public, due to their newness and limited means, this appellation wine deserves to be better known as they can be impressively compared to their elders. Their personality is well in line with what consumers are looking for in a wine:  seductive wines.
Words about…
Where the “black diamond” grows…. In the midst of  rows of vine plants, you can sometimes spot an oak tree with precious truffles prospering at its base, one of the other great riches of the Tricastin area.

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Ventoux

The vineyard: situated at the foot of the Mount Ventoux, called « the Giant of Provence » 1912 metres high . The vineyard extends from south to west of the mountain range. 51 communities make up the Appellation area and are all located in the Vaucluse county.
The Soil: the soils date back to the Tertiary Era : hard limestone, fallen earth as well as ancient alluvial soils with rounded pebbles.
The Climate: benefiting from maximum sunshine, protected from strong Mistral winds, the different soils transmit specific characteristics to the wine.
Background: a recent discovery of a potter’s workshop in the heart of the appellation, allows us to trace the production of wine in the area back to 30 years after the birth of Jesus Christ. It can be said that the C ötes du Ventoux vineyard perpetrates a long term tradition of vines existing in the area since Antiquity. In Loriol du Comtat, near Carpentras, one of the oldest wine silos, dating more than 2,500 years, has been discovered. After  the end of the Barbarian invasions , the cultivation of vineyards resumed in the Middle Ages. The Archbishop of Carpentras gave his monks a property in Mallemort du Comtat in 882. 11 centuries later, Saint Mayeul, the most famous and illustrious Abbey of Cluny, born in Apt, with his family, started to plant vines on all his properties around Apt. In the XIVth century, the Popes in Avignon had wines from Malaucene, Pernes, Malemort and Carpentras delivered to their Courts. The King Louis-Philippe, in the middle of the XIVth century made the “Old Grenache” wine from Mazan his official wine of the Court. The Côtes du Ventoux wines became appellation wines on July 23, 1973a recent discovery of a potter ’s workshop in the heart of the appellation, allows us to trace the production of wine in the area back to 30 years after the birth of Jesus Christ. It can be said that the C ötes du Ventoux vineyard perpetrates a long term tradition of vines existing in the area since Antiquity. In Loriol du Comtat, near Carpentras, one of the oldest wine silos, dating more than 2,500 years, has been discovered. After  the end of the Barbarian invasions , the cultivation of vineyards resumed in the Middle Ages. The Archbishop of Carpentras gave his monks a property in Mallemort du Comtat in 882. 11 centuries later, Saint Mayeul, the most famous and illustrious Abbey of Cluny, born in Apt, with his family, started to plant vines on all his properties around Apt. In the XIVth century, the Popes in Avignon had wines from Malaucene, Pernes, Malemort and Carpentras delivered to their Courts. The King Louis-Philippe, in the middle of the XIVth century made the “Old Grenache” wine from Mazan his official wine of the Court. The Côtes du Ventoux wines became appellation wines on July 23, 1973.
Surface of production:* : 5,900 hectares produced annually: 251,622 hectolitres; maximum yield: 50 hectolitres per hectare.
*Sources: Official Harvest Report 2005
Grape Varieties : for red and rosé wines: Black Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Carignan for the main varieties, Black Picpoul, Counoise, Clairette, Bourboulenc, White Grenache and Roussane as secondary varieties. The proportion of Carignan must not exceed 30% of the total of grapes planted and the secondary varieties must not exceed 20%. For the white wines: Clairette, Bourboulenc, White Grenache as the main grape varieties, Roussane not exceeding 30% for the plantation of the secondary varieties.
Minimum alcoholic content : for the red, rosé and white wines: 11°

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Costières de Nîmes

The vineyard: extends over more than 10,000 hectares on the right bank of the Rhone River and the hills bordering the delta, where Languedoc and Provence meet.
The Soil: hills and plateaux situated between 20 and 130 metres above sea level are made up of siliceous rounded pebbles (les Gress). The thickness of this alluvial soil varies between 3 and 15 metres, which allows the vines ’ roots to go as deep as 4 or 5 metres to find the water vital for proper ripening of the grapes.
The Climate: Mediterranean climate with its sea-side influence gives an exceptional bonus in the production of these authentic wines. The 3 essential characteristics being the wind: the Mistral helps to keep the vines healthy; the rainfall: a limited number of intense rainy days and an exceptional number of sunny days.
Background: already appreciated by the Greeks, then by the Romans, the Costières de Nimes wines are intimately entwined with numerous historical vestiges such as: the Arena in Nimes, the Square House, the Abbey in St.Gilles, classified as a world wonder, which was a favourite destination for pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, whose wines were delivered to the Popes of Avignon.
Surface of production :* 4,164 hectares with an average annual production of 213,728 hectolitres with a yield of 60 hectolitres per hectare.
*Sources: the Official Harvest Report 2005
Grape Varieties : for the red and rosé wines: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Cinsault. For the white wines: White Grenache, Marsanne, Roussane as well as Clairette, Bourboulenc, Maccabeo and Rolle.
Minimum alcoholic : 11 ° for the 3 colours.

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Côtes du Vivarais

History: More than 2,000 years ago, between the River Rhône and the Cévennes Mountains, vines were already being cultivated by a Gallic tribe, the Helvii. In the late 16th century Olivier de Serres, the father of modern agronomy, praised the wines of the Vivarais as “so precious and delicate that one need not seek wine elsewhere”. Much later, in the early 20th century, growers formed co-operative cellars, which today still vinify most of the crop.
In the 1960s, a handful of vignerons focused fully on quality. Hybrid vines were pulled up and replaced by noble grape varieties better suited to the local terroirs: Grenache Noir and Syrah for the reds; Grenache Blanc and Marsanne for the whites.

The talent and efforts of the growers and négociants were rewarded in 1999, when the Côtes du Vivarais were awarded Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status. In this rustic terroir, the vines rub shoulders with truffle oaks, prickly juniper, and nettle trees.
The Côtes du Vivarais vineyards are situated either side of the famous Ardèche River Gorge, on the Plateau des Gras at 250 metres altitude. The vines thrive in shallow chalky soils rich in scree and marly limestone, and benefit from springtime warming of the soil and from the night-time release of heat stored up during the day.
The subsoil is rife with hidden treasure: caves, sinkholes and resurgent springs. The Côtes du Vivarais vineyards, set between olive trees and holm oaks, enjoy a Mediterranean climate and the influence of the Mistral, which help yield completely ripe grapes.

The AOC wines of the Côtes du Vivarais
More than 30 producers, co-operators and négociants invite you to share these heartfelt wines, with warm and mineral flavours and a tender or muscular frame. Like the limestone plateau carved open by the River Ardèche, these wines are both lushly fruity and hewn from the rock.

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Duché d'Uzès

History: a duchy and vineyards freighted with history, between the Pont du Gard and the Cévennes! Northwest of Nîmes, the vines stretch westward from the Roman aqueduct to the Cévennes foothills. Grapes have been grown here since the sixth century BC, and the Church developed the activity in the Middle Ages. The bishop’s wine was not only used for communion; it was also liberally served to prestigious guests at social functions. Although the bishop was duty-bound to offer hospitality and assistance to travellers and pilgrims, his comfortable and well-guarded palaces more regularly hosted princes, kings and emperors. In the 15th century, vines were grown on sun-baked slopes reclaimed from the garrigue, in enclosures ringed by dry-stone walls that protected livestock but also marked property boundaries. At this time, the wines of the Duchy of Uzès already enjoyed a fine reputation. Period documents refer to the quality of the vines and to “noble wines”. The renowned playwright Racine, sojourning in Uzès, described the wine as “the best in all the Kingdom”.Today, the Duchy’s wines have sealed their credentials once and for all, with AOC status being granted in July 2012.
Historical footnote: The vines of the Monsieur d’Uzès. The Promenade des Marronniers (“Horse Chestnut Tree Walk”) and the park, which long ago were part of the Bishop’s Palace estate, were planted with vines and separated from the Palace and the cathedral by a rampart running between two towers, the Tour Saint Julien and the Tour Martine. Circa 1400 the Bishop, who was very proud of his wines, created a door in the wall so that he could easily visit his vines. But the Consuls in charge of security were keen to prevent this facility, and had the door blocked up. But this “gentleman of Uzès” then had the pleasant idea of spreading the word around town that, “on New Year’s Day, he would gift a jug of his white wine to all young married couples who did not argue during their first year of wedlock”. The tale does not say how many couples savoured his generosity! But it gave rise to a local saying, “Ceux-là veulent gagner la vigne de Monsieur d’Uzès” (“Those two want to win the vines of Monsieur d’Uzès”), in reference to young couples who pledge never to quarrel – and, by extension, to those who make over-optimistic plans for the future.
Vineyards: The Duché d’Uzès appellation stretches between Nîmes and Alès, with the town of Uzès to the east. The area is hemmed to the west by the first Cévennes foothills; to the north by the limestone hills of Lussan, with Mont Bouquet their highest point (630m); and to the east and south by vast, often-wooded limestone plateaux, which separate the production area from Nîmes, Sommières and the Rhône Valley. Lastly, the River Gardon, a major component of the local hydrographic network, flows southeast through the area.
Climate: The area has a Mediterranean climate, tempered by its distance from the coast and by stretches of higher ground that limit the sea's influence. Temperature differentials are greater than by the sea, and annual average temperatures are one to two degrees lower in the northwest than in the southeast of the appellation.
Soils: The local geology contains a variety of formations covering small surface areas, such as types of sandstone, marl, pebbles, scree, ancient alluvial deposits, hard limestone, etc. These formations recur through the landscape, giving the mosaic of soils that are the Duché d’Uzès vineyards’ greatest asset. In 1985, potential vine-growing plots were identified, making it possible to map homogeneous units of terroir; plantings were chosen accordingly, with grape varieties adapted or optimised for AOC-grade production.
Varieties: Duché d’Uzès wines (red, white and rosé) are all blended. The local varieties are: Grenache, Syrah, Viognier, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Marsanne. They release all of their flavours to give Duché d’Uzès wines their high-class pedigree.
Key figures: 282 ha cultivated; 10,602 hl produced annually; 38 hl/ha average annual yield.

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