The southern part of the Rhône-valley area, around Orange and Avignon, is home of some of the finest wines anywhere (by popular recognition and our own testing). Some of the more popular wines of Beyond are listed here.
The appellation Côtes du Rhône vineyards are mostly south and west of Orange, and overlap with vineyards of other Rhône Valley appellations. Although many of the communes are in the department of Vaucluse (84), and therefore on the Beyond maps, many are also in the Drôme (26), Gard (30) and Ardèche (07) departments.
Côtes du Rhône
Produced just about anywhere in the region, from Avignon to Vienne, a Côtes du Rhône is usually a red wine, and made primarily from the Grenache grape. Some white and rosé wines are also produced.
Côtes du Rhône Village
Inside the Côtes du Rhône region is a area of 3200 ha that produces about 150,000 hl, with stricter criteria and producing a superior quality Côtes du Rhône. The 16 villages historically recognized for Côtes du Rhône Village are, Gard (30): Chusclan, Laudun, Saint Gervais; Vaucluse (84): Beaumes-de-Venise, Cairanne, Sablet, Séguret, Rasteau, Roaix, Valréas, Visan; Drome (26): Rochegude, Rousset-les-Vignes and Vinsobres.
A fine Côtes du Rhône Village is produced by the Château de Suze-la-Rousse, 20 km north of Orange. The Université du Vin, in Suze-la-Rousse, gives courses on the wines of France.
Chusclan; Gard (30), northwest of Avignon.
Laudun; Gard (30), northwest of Avignon.
This is the only site in the entire Rhône valley where the Muscat grape is used, probably planted by the Greeks. The Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise is a rich and fruity red wine, however, Beaumes-de-Venise is used more to refer to the sweet white muscat wine.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is famous for its full-bodied red wines, but also produces an excellent white wine. The Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines have been actively promoted since the 14th century, by the Popes who had their summer palace here
One of the reasons for the wine's special properties and color is that up to 13 different grape varieties can be used. Another of the secrets of the outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine is the amazingly stony ground: the large round stones act as a storage heater, soaking up the Provencal sunshine during the day, and releasing the heat into the night, long after sunset.
Côtes du Luberon
Côtes du Ventoux
The Côte du Ventoux wines grow on the southern slopes of the dominating Mont Ventoux. Most of the production is red, but with a little white wine as well.
The Gigondas red wines progressed from the simple Côtes du Rhône to appellation contrôlée in 1971, thanks in part to the dynamic promotion by a couple of local wine merchants.
Vacqueyras red wines, like the neighboring Gigondas, also advanced to appellation contrôlée in the early 70's.
Fortified Wine. Rasteau is a fortified wine made from the Grenache grape.
Gard - Avignon Northwest
The Côtes du Rhônes vineyards in the department of Gard (30), northwest of Avignon, are known best for their rosé wines. The land is garrigues and the soil chalky, covered by layers of flat stones that act as heat storage similar to those of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Like Tavel, Lirac is best know for its rosé wines, but more and more red wine is being produced here. The Lirac appellation comes from four villages: Lirac, Roquemaure, Saint-Laurent-des-Arbes (just across the river from Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and xxx.
This is reputed to be the finest rosé wine in all of France
Much of the land was left fallow following the phylloxera plague. Replanting started in the 1960's, under the initative of the local cooperative.
Wines from the land of salt and sand - Camargue
One of the largest vineyard companies in France is Les Salins du Midi, traditionally one of the largest salt producers in France. Les Salins du Midi has diversified by planting over 1600 hectares (4000 acres) of vineyards along the Rhône delta coast, from Sète to the mouth of the Rhône. Sète is southwest of Montpellier.
Vin de Pays des Sables du Golfe du Lion
This appellation includes a wide range of wines from the western Camargue. The largest vineyard is the Domaine de Jarras, located between Le Grau-du-Roi and Aigues-Mortes.