Côtes du Luberon
At approximately the same size as neighbor Grignan-Les Adhemar, Côtes du Luberon is a large but rather obscure appellation of the southern Rhône. The wines are produced in an impressive 36 communes, one of which is the titular Vitrolles-en-Luberon. About 6,700 acres are under vine. The red wines themselves are pretty typical expressions of southern Rhône, with good balance and spicy fruit flavors, while the rosés and whites are less complex and for early drinking only.
Wine has been made here since Roman times, but Côtes du Luberon did not receive AOC status until 1988.
Climate and Viticulture
The soil here is very sandy, with some deposits of higher-quality marl and limestone. The climate is similar to the other wine-producing appellations of the southern Rhône.
The red wines must be composed of at least 60% Grenache and Syrah. Mourvèdre, Cinsaut, and Carignan are used as supporting varieties; Pinot Noir is for some reason also allowed, but is rare. Clairette Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Trebbiano, Marsanne, and Roussanne are allowed white grapes.
A trio of producers in Côtes du Luberon, all of which produce wines of a generally above-average quality, are listed below.
- Château Val Joanis: This domaine's fancily labeled Réserve Les Griottes red cuvée has been getting better lately. Their other wines are good too.
- Domaine de la Citadelle: All generally reliable wines, especially from the Chataignier vineyard. This vineyard's three cuvées, one in each color, cost about $15 and offer excellent flavors. The Gouverneur red is also good.
- La Vieille Ferme: This domaine's plain Côtes du Luberon and especially the Blanc version are notable here; at less than $10, they have excellent bargain prices.
Citadelle's Chataignier vineyard is well-known, but there are no official subregions.