Côtes du Vivarais
Encompassing about 1,400 acres sourced from 14 communes in the northwest part of the southern Rhône, Côtes du Vivarais AOC doesn't compare to its similarly named competitors Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Luberon in terms of size. This small appellation offers higher quality, although the drawback is that the wines are less often exported. Classical and sometimes rustic in style, these wines are best if aged for a few years.
The exact year in which Côtes du Vivarais began to grow wine grapes is unknown, but wine has been produced here at least since the 1st century A.D. Originally becoming a VDQS in 1962, this appellation finally received AOC status in 1999.
Climate and Viticulture
Since they are located in the northern part of the southern Rhône, these vineyards are somewhat cooler than those of Vivarais' southern Rhône competitors. In addition, they are located at high altitudes, on limestone hills.
In red wines, at least 30% of the blend must be Grenache, at least 40% must be Syrah, and Cinsaut and Carignan can each comprise up to 10% of the blend as supplementary varieties. Clairette Blanc, Grenache Blanc, and Marsanne are the main white grapes; the latter is particularly good here due to the cooler climate.
Most Côtes du Vivarais wines are good, but one particular leader can be cited.
- Domaine Gallety: Gallety is the clear, undisputed leader in this appellation. Their basic Côtes du Vivarais is ripe, full of black fruit flavors, with great thickness and earthiness as well as a strong tannic structure. La Syrare de Alain Gallety is a fine cuvée, with smoky flavors of black fruit, spice, herbs, and chocolate, and even stronger tannins than the basic wine. These wines are comparable to northern Rhône cuvées from regions like St-Joseph.
No subappellations of note here.