Ventoux is a large wine region in the far southeast of the southern Rhône, on the border with Provence. The appellation was known as Côtes de Ventoux until October 2009. It is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of Avignon, in the Vaucluse department.
The wines made in the Ventoux appellation are very similar to those of the Côtes du Rhône title and employ much the same combination of grape varieties. The classic southern Rhone red grape varieties of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre are used in the production of most of these wines, with Cinsaut and Carignan also used to a smaller extent.
The area does produce some white wines. These are made from Clairette, Bourboulenc and Grenache Blanc, with the occasional use of Roussanne. Quantities of these are far outweighed by red and rosé wines.
Mont Ventoux looks down over the wine-producing areas of the Rhône Valley to the west and Provence to the south and east. The mountain (often referred to as the Giant of Provence) stands alone from the Alps mountain range, of which it is technically a part, and towers over the landscape for miles around.
On the western slopes and foothills of this iconic mountain, in an area roughly 30 miles (50km) from north to south and covering 51 communes, are the vineyards of the Ventoux appellation. The Côtes du Luberon region lies on its southern border.
Wines have been made here since the 1st Century AD and have been consumed (and written about) by popes and kings throughout the centuries. The official Côtes du Ventoux appellation was created just before the harvest of 1973, for red, white and rosé wines.
The style of these wines varies according to the combination of grape varieties used and the terroir from which they originate. The style is overall one of lighter, fruit-driven wines, compared with wines from neighbouring regions. This reflects the increased altitude and slightly cooler mesoclimates that the Ventoux slopes provide.
The intense southern French sunshine that covers the south- and west-facing slopes of Ventoux helps the wines to achieve a good level of phenolic ripeness, The cooler temperatures from altitude moderate this effect and grant the grapes extended hang time. Grapes grow so well here that the Muscat produced for table grapes has its own AOC Muscat du Ventoux appellation.
As with appellations and regions all over France, there has been a recent increase in investment and experimentation in the area, resulting in wines of higher quality from several Ventoux producers.