France’s Côtes du Rhône Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) is home to more than 1,200 wineries (independently owned, cooperatives and wine merchants). It is among the largest AOC vineyards in France.
Through the producer’s collective efforts and art of blending, they have created authentic red, white and rosé wines. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (the original GSM) are the most used grape varietals but the AOC authorizes 23, including Couton, Caladoc and Marselan that were recently added.
Such a variety allows the vine growers to sidestep the region’s unpredictable weather, for instance, some varieties mature later while others are drought-resistant. And of course, such a diversity of grapes allows winemakers to create a wide range of wine.
For instance, the region’s white wines are made mainly of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Clairette and Roussanne. And these wines express notes of white flowers, peach and stony minerals. Côtes du Rhône’s red blends are mostly made with Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. These wines are round, approachable and exhibit notes of red and black berry fruits. The original Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blends (GSM) have been crowd pleasers for decades in the U.S. due to their budget-friendly price points and approachable characteristics. The region’s rosés are made with many of the same grapes as the reds and are fresh, delicate and exhibit red berry notes and acidity. The rosés are usually deep pink and pair well with many dishes. While Côtes du Rhône’s bottles can be enjoyed right away, some will benefit from spending some time in the cellar.
Wines from Côtes du Rhône are made with food in mind. At home or at a restaurant, they pair effortlessly with a large spectrum of cuisines. The great value Côtes du Rhône match perfectly everyday dishes and comfort food like pizza, pasta and grilled cheese sandwiches. Côtes du Rhône Villages open the possibilities with elaborate dishes such as cheese and charcuterie boards, steaks, roasted vegetables, fish and more.
The Côtes du Rhône AOC has a long history and was first established in 1937. Today, it covers about 74,131 acres and encompasses 171 villages, mostly in the southern Rhône Valley. The Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC area encompasses 95 of the southern villages, 22,240 acres and may be supplemented by one of 22 geographical names. These names are derived from an existing village name (such as Séguret) or an area combining several villages (such as Plan de Dieu). On average Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône villages produce more than 42 million gallons of wine per harvest.
Along with quality, the producers of the Côtes du Rhône AOC are devoted to sustainability across the region.
Collectively, Côtes du Rhône producers are adding regulations to the appellation rules (Cahier des Charges) with respect to agro-environmental measures. The region’s producers and trade organizations are playing a leading role in challenges regarding climate change and societal expectations to protect the environment. Already 12% of the total production is certified organic and more acres are transitioning to becoming certified or following sustainable guidelines.