The St-Péray appellation for white wine is the dark horse of the northern Rhône region, since unlike any other appellations in the northern Rhône, it makes sparkling wine. Though these wines can have good fruit flavors, the still white wines are significantly better. There are only about 130 acres under vine, making all the wines obscure and hard to find.
Interestingly enough, St-Péray has had a long and prestigious history, having once been considered the best region in the world for sparkling wine. It was among the first appellations in the Rhône to be officially recognized in 1936. Since then, technological advances in Champagne and other sparkling wine regions have made St-Péray wine much less renowned.
Climate and Viticulture
Although similar in climate to much of the rest of the northern Rhône, St-Péray is noticeably cooler, which makes it possible to make sparkling white wine.
Only two grape varieties are allowed in St-Péray: Marsanne and Roussanne. The former makes up most of production of both still and sparkling styles, in general making a wine with thick, heavy fruit flavors. No red wines are made.
Champagne-style sparklers are easy to find here, but more distinctive and ambitious are the still wines of the region. Here are five good producers of these styles.
- Domaine Yves Cuilleron: Better known for their Condrieu, the Cuilleron producer nonetheless makes good still wines here. The Les Cerfs is intense but rounded, with light fruit and floral scents, while the more nervy, vivacious Les Potiers has more citrus-driven flavors.
- Bernard Gripa: Gripa has a good presence here, making a lush, creamy basic St-Péray and two good cuvées. These are the spicy, fruity Les Figuiers and the stony, sharp Les Pins.
- Domaine du Tunnel: Good wines abound here: the fresh, smoothly floral Cuvée Marsanne, the dusty, herbal, and strongly mineral Cuvée Prestige, the unconventionally spicy, bright, and persistant Cuvée Roussanne, and the more exclusive, limited-production herbal bomb that is the Pur Blanc.
- Les Vins de Vienne: Two good cuvées here: the nervy, intensely herbal and mineral Les Archeveques, and the similarly firm but more rounded and fruity Les Bialères.
- Domaine Alain Voge: All of Voge's St-Péray wines are terrific. Their Les Bulles d'Alain sparkler is notable for its dense but very floral and aromatic flavors. The Fleur de Creussol is likely the top still wine of St-Péray, with wild, thick, almost Burgundian yellow fruit and herb flavors.
St-Péray has no subregions.