Crozes-Hermitage is an appellation of the northern Rhône valley in France. It covers a relatively large area on the eastern bank of the river, to the north and south of Tain L'Hermitage town. It is much larger than the prestigious Hermitage appellation which it surrounds, both in area and in terms of production volume.
Around 7.5 million litres of wine are produced and sold under the Crozes-Hermitage title each year. This is more than the other seven northern Rhône appellations combined. There are 1,768 hectares of vines currently recorded for the appellation (4,368 acres).
The vast majority (around 90 percent) of Crozes-Hermitage wines are red, and made predominantly from Syrah. The remaining 10 percent are white Crozes-Hermitage Blanc wines made from Rousanne and Marsanne..
These two white wine varieties are also used to a limited extent in many of the red wines.
In general the wines have plenty of bright fruit aromas but comparatively less structure and complexity than Hermitage. The prices that Crozes-Hermitage commands limit the usage of costly barrels to enhance those aspects.
The better reds tend to age for only five to 10 years. The whites are usually best consumed within a couple of years.
The fruit is grown on more fertile soil than found in the Hermitage vineyards, which encourages plant growth rather than optimal fruit ripening.
However there are many varied terroirs within Crozes-Hermitage. The area north of the town of Tain L'Hermitage benefits from a favorable mesoclimate and a warmth-retaining granite bedrock under predominantly clay-limestone soils.
It produces richer, more-complex wines than those from the flatter lands to the south, where alluvial soils are more common.