Costières de Nîmes
In the most southern part of the Rhône between the city of Nîmes and the western Rhône delta (the Petit Rhône that ends in the Camargue) one finds Costières de Nîmes. As one of the oldest wine regions in Europe and a supplier to Palais du Papes in Avignon, it use to be part of the Languedoc and acquired the AOC status in 1986. Due to the terroir and the grape varieties allowed, Costières de Nîmes felt more close to the Rhône valley. INAO approved and the request was formalized in 2004.
The region has a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and little rain. A refreshing breeze from the Camargue and the terroir makes it possible to produce excellent wines here. The bottom layer contains clay (absorbency that can gradually give off moisture), whereas the top layer contains of pebbles and limestone mainly.
Costières de Nîmes produces for the most part (55% in 2014) red wine from grenache noir (> 25%), syrah and mourvèdre (together <20%), carignan (<40%) and cinsault (<40%). In general, the wines are elegant and balanced, with a lighter structure, less tannin and more fruit expression compared to other AOC’s in the Southern Rhone. The white wines represent only 10% and are an assembly of at least two grape varieties. In addition to the well-known white Rhône grapes, maccabéo, rolle (vermentino) and ugni blanc (until 2010) are allowed too. Varieties used in the assembly to give freshness and a lighter structure to the wine. The rest is rosé, a kind of derivative of their red wine, and the least interesting. The area covers 4,000 hectares and produces more than 2,000,000 bottles on an annual basis, of which only 23% cross the border. The average return in 2013 was 46 hl/ha, higher than for the southern Crus. And although Costières de Nîmes has no real distinctive character in my view, the average quality is reasonable to good and the prices are significantly lower than those of the southern Crus.