Cotes du Rhone Villages

Côtes du Rhône Villages is an appellation for red and white wines from certain villages of the Rhône region of France. All are in the southern half of the region, to the east and immediate west of the town of Orange.

Wines made under the appellation must meet higher standards than those of the generic Côtes de Rhône title. They are from vineyards in areas that show potential to produce distinctive wines of good quality.

The Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation was introduced in 1966 and now applies to 22 villages.

Each of these villages may append its name to the standard AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages statement on its wine labels. If a wine is made from grapes grown in more than one of the villages, the names must be omitted from the label.

There are strict regulations governing the production of these wines, as with any AOC. These are to ensure consistency of style and quality, and are the same for all of the villages. The most obvious of these regulations relate to the grape varieties permitted for use and the quantities of each variety allowed in any given wine.

Red and rosé Côtes du Rhône Villages wines must be made from a minimum of 50 percent Grenache and a minimum of 20 percent of Syrah and Mourvèdre (either together or separately). Rosé wines may also be made from up to 20 percent white grapes, provided that they are of the varieties described below.

Red wines of the appellation are moderately rich in style, with dark fruit flavours and the spice of Syrah ever present. They are generally slightly tannic, but this varies by vintage and according to the particular terroir of the village in question.

White Côtes du Rhône Villages wines are generally made in a fresh, dry style and have a tangy, floral profile. They are made from Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Viognier.

Another key indicator of quality is vineyard yield. Lower yield implies higher quality, as the vines were theoretically able to contribute more of their energy to nurturing a small number of healthier grapes. The yield for Côtes du Rhône Villages wines is between 42 and 45 hectolitres per hectare, compared to the higher yield of 60 hectolitres per hectare for the Côtes du Rhône appellation.

Côtes du Rhône Villages wines are widely accepted as providing a good balance of value and quality. Though they lack the prestige associated with names such as Hermitage and Chateauneuf du Pape, prices are more modest.

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