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Wines from Cotes du Rhone: When Bigger is Better

Wines from Cotes du Rhone: When Bigger is Better

Cotes du Rhone is the second largest appellation in France, exceeded only by Bordeaux. This massive wine producing region has over 44,000 hectares and 140,000 acres under vine. This adds up to over $100 million worth of wine production, every year. The largest buyers are from the UK, with France a close second.

The Beginning of Branding

Not only is the area massive, it is old; the Romans began cultivation and importance in the 18th century. In 1737 a Royal Decree determined that all wine barrels from the region had to be branded with the initials CDR (Cotes du Rhone), to ensure quality. Until the beginning of the 19th century the region was known as the Coste du Rhone and classified different terroirs and soil types ranging from rocky hillside to stony vineyards as well as land with sand, clay, rocks, stones and pebbles. The area was declared an AOC in 1937.


Plantings include wines for red, wine, and rose sparkling wine, as well as dessert wine with 89 percent red, 7 percent rose and 4 percent white. The dominant red wine grapes include: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan. For production of white wines, the grape varietals include: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne, Bourboulenc and Viognier.

AOC law for Cotes du Rhone requires that all red wines, including rose, must include at least 40 percent Grenache in their blend. The requirement for white wines? At least 80 percent of the blend must come from Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne, Bourboulenc and Viognie.

Roses must include a substantial portion of red Grenache in the blend and are likely to be deeper in color and more intense than the pale-pink roses from Provence.

Pairs Well With Others

Cotes du Rhone wines are generally medium bodied, fresh, and spicy with red fruit characteristics, and they pair easily with beef, pork, duck, lamb, veal and Asian cuisine, as well as soft and hard cheeses. White Cotes du Rhone pair well with fish, shellfish, and sushi as well as hard and soft cheeses. Read the full article at

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