Wine Travels: Cotes du Rhone Villages (v. I)
The name of Côtes-du-Rhône Villages appellation often creates some questions, especially for a starting love lover. What exactly this means? Why these villages were separated from the Cotes du Rhone? Do they produce a special type of wines?
At first glance, it doesn’t look easy to define what unites these 95 southern Rhone villages. But after some research, all the questions become fairly answerable.
While the borders of the Cote du Rhone appellation were designated by a decree of 1937 a more prestigious zone of Côtes-du-Rhône Villages appeared on the map in 1966. The right to produce wines here was first was given to 13 historically recognized villages on ancient terroirs. Over the next two decades, this list increased to 17 names, but after the reform of 1984, the number of villages changed dramatically to become 95 now.
The first 17 though got the privilege to indicate their names on the labels. As times go by, three communes (Beaumes-de-Venise, Rasteau, and Cairanne) dropped out of this union, instead, seven others were added. So as of today, there’re 21 starts in Côtes-du-Rhône Villages constellation.
Chusclan is one of the oldest settlements in the Rhone Valley - local hills abound with artifacts dating from the beginning of the Bronze Age. The vineyards were laid here in the Roman era, and in the Middle Ages were cultivated by monks who claimed that the Chusclan wines add 10 years of life. This might well be that due to this namely legend in 17th and 18th centuries Chusclan became a very popular destination for the wives of Parisian aristocrats looking for ways to rejuvenation.
Now 96% of the wines produced here are red and 4% - rose. Thanks to limestone, alluvial deposits ancient sandstone both local red and rosé wines are light and soft, the best time to drink them is within two years after they are bottled. In reds the aroma of sweet ripe plum is dominated while in rose it’s fresh grapefruit, the wines also are full of Provencal spices and fragrant herbs notes.
Since 15th-century Chusclan wines have traditionally been paired with rabbit dishes, but they are extremely gastronomically plastic and can be recommended for a wide list of meals.
Gadagne is an appellation for red wines only. The parish received the right to have its name on the label in 2012. Cadagne is the most miniature of all Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, it locates on a plateau at an altitude of 115 meters above sea. The first vines were planted in Cadagne in the fifth century BC, while the first commercial success came to local wines came in the middle of the 15th century when they began to be supplied to Paris. That time they were especially appreciated for their pretty high alcohol content and attractive southern aroma.
Today’s Gadagne is deep in color, rich, spicy wines with a dominant note garriga. Aging reveals in Gadagne notes of licorice and pepper. These exact spices, not tannins or acidity, make up the character of unusual Gadagne wines. It is considered that they match the best to wild boar cutlets.
Find here and in Winester Gourmet Library information about Cotes du Rhone Villages wines, as well as hacks about how to best pair the wines and food, useful tips and gastronomy combination cards and more.