Côtes du Rhône
After the Bordeaux, the Côtes du Rhône is the biggest wine producing region (35,000 ha) in France that produces primarily red wines (> 95%). The different soils, micro-climates and grape varieties mean that the wines are highly diverse. The current classification system for this region, which divides wines into three categories, also provides a general indication of quality. They are, in ascending order:
- Côtes du Rhône: these wines may come from anywhere in the entire Rhône region, although the lion’s share are from the southern Rhône.
- Côtes du Rhône Villages: wines from 95 different villages in the departments of Drôme, Vaucluse, Gard and Ardèche in the southern Rhône. These wines generally have more depth and character.
- Côtes du Rhône Villages plus the name of the municipality (18): also from the southern Rhône, but the names of the villages are explicitly stated. These wines are typical of a specific village, and therefore distinctive.
Although young, fruity wines are popular right now, the wines from all three Rhône categories offer good concentration and complexity. A substantial portion of the Côtes du Rhône wines are of very high quality, pleasant to drink, and well worth the price. This is largely due to the independent wine growers who are active in this region.