The northern Côtes du Rhône Villages, Tricastin and Vivarais
By Liz Berry MW
This Guide was last updated on 26 January 2012
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Rolling fields of lavender are intersperced with vineyards in the Coteaux du Tricastin area near Grignan. © Mick Rock/Cephas
This part of the southern Rhône is probably vinously the least known of the southern section of the Rhône, although there are some very enjoyable wines here, at a less expensive price range. There is a plethora of middling quality wine here, below five euros as well as a few very pleasant surprises, and some remarkable quality in the middle price range up to 15 euros. Stretching south from the home of nougat, Montélimar, the countryside is very attractive, with the beginning of the red terracotta tiled roofs of the south and rolling fields of lavender. This is lovely countryside with olive groves, truffle oaks, fruit orchards, and some fine châteaux, interspersed with vineyards and garrigue. The higher altitude, mountainous country around the Vivarais, produces elegant wines more reminiscent of a lighter northern Rhône style, whilst the baked, garrigue hillsides further south produce a more Provencal, southern earthy style of wine.
The micro-region includes several newly promoted individual ‘Villages’ in the Côtes du Rhône (such as Vinsobres), as well as large volumes of wines from the appellations of Côtes du Rhône; Côtes du Rhône Villages – including the better Valréas wines; Coteaux du Tricastin, whose producers promote themselves as part of a group (with Ventoux, Luberon and Costières de Nîmes) as Les autres vins des Côtes du Rhône (the other wines of the Côtes du Rhône); and Côtes du Vivarais on the borders of the Ardèche and Gard departments. Many producers make a range of Vins de Pays and Vins de Table alongside the appellations. There are some exciting new growers starting to appear around here.
This micro-region is at the northern limit of the influence of the Mediterranean, and especially those vineyards on the right bank of the Rhône have a slightly more northern feel about them. These westerly vineyards of Côtes du Vivarais are amongst the coolest and wettest vineyard regions of the southern Rhône, nestling beside the Ardèche River, north of the Gard department, they are more exposed and at higher altitudes. On the other hand, the vineyards on the left bank, in the Vaucluse and Drôme department, including Vinsobres, Valréas and Coteaux du Tricastin are much warmer and mainly protected from the northern Mistral wind.
The Côtes du Vivarais vineyards have mainly limestone soils. On the left bank, the vineyards of Vinsobres, the other northerly Côtes du Rhône Villages and Coteaux du Tricastin are situated on a mixture of soils: stoney, pebbly, ancient alluvial soils with gentle rocky or sandy slopes.
This wine region can by reached by road from Paris by taking the A6 to Lyon then continuing south along the A7. To reach the vineyard areas either exit the motorway south of Montélimar at junction 18 or at Bollène at junction 19. By train, the TGV goes direct from Paris to Valence the journey time being around 2 hours 10 minutes and also to Montélimar. The nearest airports are found at Nîmes and Avignon, both have flights to the UK and other European destinations. The closest large international airports are Marseille to the south or Lyon, a little further to the north.
6 Rue des 3 Faucons, 84000 Avignon
Tel: 04 90 27 24 00 Fax: 04 90 27 24 38
Montélimar Tourist Office,
Allées Provençales, 26200 Montélimar
Tel: 04 75 01 00 20
Orange Tourist Office,
5 Cours Aristide Briand, 84100 Orange
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