France: Languedoc Roussillon

South and East of Perpignan

Collioure and Banyuls, plus inland Côtes du Roussillon
By Richard James

This Guide was last updated on 23 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 of Grenache Blanc and Macabeu. Some Vermentino, Tourbat are also grown.

Côtes du Roussillon Aspres

This appellation was created in 2004 for a wide zone in central-southern Roussillon. Although the delimited area covers 37 villages, barely a handful of committed growers are making distinctive wines labelled as Les Aspres whereas others have opted out. Based predominantly on Syrah blended with the region's other red varieties, it produces some rich smoky reds often aged in new oak.

Collioure

Small appellation for red, rosé and a tiny amount of white wine. Reds are made from a blend of varieties with at least 60% comprising Grenache, Syrah and/or Mourvèdre and are usually aged in oak for a year before sale. The AC covers the same area as Banyuls.

Banyuls

A Vin Doux Naturel produced from old Grenache vines. Red and white wines are produced in diverse styles from rancio, towards dry to very sweet. Vintage wines or Rimage are made in a less oxidised style with shorter ageing in cask, and Mise Tardive (Late Harvest) versions are aged in unfilled barrels. The designation Banyuls Grand Cru can only be used for Banyuls that has been aged for 30 months in wood. More recently established and younger producers tend to make fruitier, denser and less aged styles.

Muscat de Rivesaltes

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

Rivesaltes

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.

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, which may be named after the department or a smaller zone. The IGP des Côtes Catalanes designation is also more widely used by Roussillon growers, as Oc has too much of a Languedoc connotation!

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