Côtes du Rhône Villages
The second largest Rhône appellation, just behind the Côte du Rhône appellation, is for wines from the group of villages in the southern Rhône that do not have their own appellation (such as Gigondas). There are a bit less then 10,000 hectares of vineyards and the wines are divided up between those who can simple use the word “Villages” on the label and the 17 villages who can append the name of the village to the label (such as Plan de Dieu). A large variety of Rhône grapes can be used for the wines but most often the reds are made from Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre and the whites from Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne.
There are a great variety of soils in the area but the best-known feature is the pebbles (or galets) that are found in the ancient glacial soils. The climate is Mediterranean with a strong influence from the Mistral wind. This is a large area covering 95 communes in the departments of the Vaucluse, the Gard, the Ardèche and the Drôme. The red wines are full-bodied and spicy with rich, earthy flavours that go well with game, stews and casseroles. The white wines are generous and aromatic with aromas of peach, honeysuckle and blossom. They match well with shellfish, baked fish in cream sauce and blue cheese and goats’ cheese. These wines can be enjoyed quite young and for up to 5-10 years after their vintage.