The wines of Côte Rôtie, Condrieu and Saint Joseph
By John Wheeldon
This Guide was last updated on 08 August 2011
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A red wine appellation produced from the communes of Saint Cyr sur Rhône, Ampuis and Tupin-Semons. Wines are sometimes labelled as ‘Côte Brune’ or ‘Côte Blonde’ according to which slope they are planted (see 'Geography' above). These are Syrah-based wines with up to 20% of the white Viognier grape permitted in the blend, though in practice most producers who use Viognier blend in less than five per cent. Aged in oak from 18 months to three years.
Appellation for white wine from 100% Viognier, produced in several communes near Condrieu and Chavanay. There is some overlap with the Saint Joseph appellation. Modern winemaking techniques often include some fermentation in oak as well as stainless steel. Occasionally late harvest wines may be made, depending on the vintage though the term ‘Vendange Tardive’ is not allowed to be used officially in this appellation.
With only 3.5ha of vineyards this counts amongst the smallest appellations in France. Only white wine is produced using 100% Viognier with at least two years spent in oak barrels.
This large red and white wine appellation extends into the other Northern Rhône micro-region ‘Around Tain l'Hermitage’ and here includes the villages of Chavanay, Malleval and Saint Pierre du Boeuf. There is some overlap with the Condrieu appellation. The reds are made mainly from Syrah with up to 10% Marsanne or Roussanne permitted. They are aged in oak or occasionally chestnut barrels from ten months to two years. White Saint Joseph wines are blends of Marsanne and Roussanne and may be aged for several months in oak. In general the wines from the southern sector opposite Tain l’Hermitage are the best as there are older vines on steep slopes here. However most Côte-Rôtie and Condrieu producers also make a Saint Joseph.
Although fairly unimportant in the northern Rhône, this is an extensive appellation in the southern Rhône accounting for about half the Rhône Valley’s production, 95% of it for red wines, the rest rosés and whites. In the north, the few reds are based usually on 100% Syrah; there are a very few whites and virtually no rosés.
There are a number of IGP (formerly Vin de Pays) designations that can be used by producers within this micro-region. But by far the most common here is the departmental one of IGP de l’Ardèche or the local VIGP des Collines Rhodaniennes. Rules are more flexible than for AC wines so many wines are from a single grape variety that would not be permitted under the AC rules. The designation is widely used here for 100% Syrah from young vines and for Viognier. A few growers make some Gamay from vines grown on the flatter lands near the river.
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