France: Languedoc Roussillon

North and West of Perpignan

Côtes du Roussillon Villages, Rivesaltes and Maury
By Richard James

This Guide was last updated on 22 April 2010
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Main appellations

Côtes du Roussillon

Appellation for reds, rosés and whites. Reds are the most important and account for up to 70% of the total production with rosés accounting for most of the rest. Reds and rosés are blended from a range of varieties including Carignan, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The whites are mostly a blend from Grenache Blanc and Macabeu. Some Vermentino, Tourbat and Malvoisie are also grown.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages

Appellation for red wines only. The vineyards are clustered mainly north of the Têt river along the Agly valley and its tributaries. Varieties are as AC Côtes du Roussillon above, but the yield is lower. Four village sub-zones can add their names to Côtes du Rhône Villages: Caramany, Latour-de-France, Lesquerde and Tautavel, with the fifth, Maury, under consideration.


A Vin Doux Naturel that can be made in a diversity of styles and colours, from white to amber and red through to chocolate; the terms ambré (golden brown whites) and tuilé (brick red) are seen on labels. The permitted grape varieties in this AC vary accordingly: Grenache Blanc, Noir and Gris; Macabeu, Tourbat or Malvoisie du Roussillon, and Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Single varietal wines are also allowed. Wines cannot be released until 16 months after the harvest. The name ‘Hors d’Age’, literally 'beyond age' can be added to Ambré and Tuilé labels for wines that have been aged for at least five years. Most of them are aged for much longer, 20 years is not unusual.

Muscat de Rivesaltes

The only Vin Doux Naturel that can be made using Muscat of Alexandria as well as Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains.

IGP (Vin de Pays) d’Oc

Regional IGP (formerly Vin de Pays) covering the Gard, Aude, Hérault and Pyrénées Orientales departments. Over 32 different grape varieties are permitted and there is a great diversity of styles and quality. There are many smaller IGP designations within this area including VIGP des Pyrénées, which may be named after the department or a smaller zone. The IGP des Côtes Catalanes designation is more widely used by Roussillon growers, as Oc has too much of a Languedoc connotation!


Vin Doux Naturel which is mostly red wine produced from mainly Grenache Noir and made/aged in a variety of ways to produce rich, heady, sweet wines, and some rancio, that benefit from ageing. A tiny amount of white is made. In general, traditional styles are aged for longer in cask and/or bonbonnes (glass demijohns); whereas the more contemporary, less oxidised style stems from different winemaking techniques (fortified while fermenting on skins before pressing), less barrel ageing and earlier bottling.

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