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Vacqueyras


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Often compared to Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas, Vacqueyras is another heavyweight appellation of the southern Rhône. The Grenache-based red wines are rich, dusty, and spicy, with mellow, resonant flavors of fruit and herbs. While certainly powerful, the wines are less intense than those of Gigondas and closer to Châteauneufs in style. Among the three appellations, Vacqueyras offers the best prices.

Vacqueyras is slightly larger than Gigondas, with about 3,200 acres of vineyards located in the eponymous village. Between 400,000 and 500,000 cases of wine are produced per year; due to the warm climate, white grapes do poorly here, and hence production is mainly made up of red wine.

History

Vacqueyras' history is less impressive than that of Gigondas or Châteauneuf-du-Pape; with "only" about 400 years of wine production history, the region is young in comparison. Also, it did not receive AOC status until 1990. As a result, Vacqueyras still slightly lags Gigondas in terms of the wines' quality and name recognition. As the climates of the two are very similar, this is likely to change.

Climate and Viticulture

The vineyards of Vacqueyras are highly similar to those of Gigondas, and hence produce similar wines. Many of the best vineyards are located on lofty, sloped mountains with cool climates; at sea level, the warmer, more balmy climate can make for less interesting wines. Many of the hills are made up of limestone, but clay and other soil types are also common.

Grape Varieties

Grenache is the main grape in these reds, often making up 90% or more of the blends. Syrah is also common. Mourvèdre and Cinsaut are allowed as supplementary varieties. With flavors of dusty, warm herbs, rich red fruit, and spice, these powerful but balanced wines are among the most characterful in the Rhône. They are estimated to have less aging potential than the more intense wines of Gigondas, but can still be cellared for a good 20 years.

Major Producers

We list seven excellent producers located in Vacqueyras.

Subregions

There are no official subappellations. A few producers use vineyard names, but none of these have become well-known as of yet.