Côtes-du-Rhône wines are produced since Antiquity in the Rhône valley. Gallic, and before them Greek winegrowers already used the river as a mean of transportation. Romans went on cultivating vine and developing trade in the area, annexing the right bank of the Rhône - Côte Rôtie, Saint Joseph - and the left one, Hermitage.
Wine producing met a new expansion with the setting of the popes in Avignon in the 14th century. Avignon blossomed and became a capital, with 40.00 inhabitants. The pontiff, his court and the town had great needs that local producers supplied. From this period on, we have a wine named Châteauneuf du Pape.
The Côtes du Rhône AOC - Appellation d’Origine Controlée - was granted to the wines in 1937. These are red, rosé, and white wines, and also sweet dessert wines. The AOC covers a wide variety of grape, soils and climates. The production area goes from Vienne to Avignon, all along the Rhône.
The Rhône valley climate can be characterized first by the Mistral, a strong wind that goes down to the South, then by high temperatures and a great amount of sunshine. The soils, composed of granite in the North of Montélimar, give birth to Northern Côtes-du-Rhône. Southern crus, bred in the South of Montélimar, grow in limestone.
The grapes used are mainly Grenache (Gigondas, Coteaux du Tricastin, Côtes du Ventoux), Syrah (Côte-Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph), Mourvèdre, and other vines like Viognier.
Southern white wines taste fresh and flowery, with aromas of rose, raspberries, vanilla, honey, apricot, and Southern red wines evoke black and red berries, cherries, spices. Natural sweet wines taste like very ripe grape, exotic fruit, honey, nuts...
Northern white wines smell of white flowers (acacia, hawthorn), peach, melon, apricot ; red wines from the North are stronger with black berries notes, truffle, spices, a delicate hint of smoke ; straw wines taste of honey, fudge, peach...