The Roussillon vineyards: exceptional red and sweet wines
It is a vineyard in "amphitheatre" in which a most exciting wine show is played out. The Roussillon vineyards are spread out between the Mediterranean Sea and various mountain ranges: Canigou to the west, the Corbières to the north and the Albères to the south, on the border with Spain. In this setting of steep coves, mountainous foothills and sunny plains, the winegrowers are the actors of a whole new act where the rich and authentic wines are now in the spotlight. The reputation of the Roussillon vineyards is largely due to its red wines and, to a greater extent, to its exceptional natural sweet wines. Banyuls, Maury and other Rivesaltes are increasingly popular with wine lovers. All of this with a very attractive quality/price ratio.
General presentation of the Roussillon vineyard
The Roussillon vineyard covers a large part of the Pyrénées-Orientales department. It extends in the continuation of the Languedoc vineyard. Its 20,600 hectares of vines are spread along the Mediterranean coast, between the Etang de Leucate and the Spanish border, as well as on the Roussillon plain, the Agly valley to the north and on the south.e de l'Agly to the north of the Têt and Perpignan, the Aspres, the Corbières du Roussillon to the west and the foothills of the Albères to the south.
In this region, which is among the warmest in France, between the sea and the mountains, the vines benefit from a soil and climate that are conducive to exceptional terroirs. Many grape varieties are grown throughout the Pyrenees-Orientales. On the red side, Grenache noir is regularly grown alongside Carignan, lladoner pelut, mourvèdre and Syrah. On the white side, Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris are used along with Macabeu, Malvoisie du Roussillon, Marsanne and Roussanne, Vermentino and Muscats à petits grains and Muscats d'Alexandrie.
The appellations of Roussillon
The Roussillon vineyards produce numerous AOCs, as well as IGPs, a label that replaces the former vins de pays. Several natural sweet wines are also typical of the region and deserve to be known.
The wines of Roussillon have 5 AOCs:
- AOC Collioure: the famous port dear to the painters of the "fauvist" movement gives its name to this appellation. Grenache, mourvèdre and syrah on the red side and white and grey grenaches, macabeu, tourbat and vermentino on the white side, to name but a few, are grown on steep terraces overlooking the Mediterranean around the communes of Collioure, Banyuls, Cerbères and Port-Vendres. The AOC includes mainly red and rosé wines; some white wines, often unknown, are also concerned.
- AOC Maury Sec: located to the northwest of Perpignan, this appellation is fairly recent, having been in existence since 2011. Here, the Grenache Noir grape variety dominates. Natural sweet wines are also produced in this area.
- AOC Côtes-du-Roussillon: the wines of this AOC are produced around Perpignan and throughout the Roussillon plain. They are mainly red wines, which are the result of a blend of at least three grape varieties including Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache Noir and Carignan.
- AOC Côtes-du-Roussillon Les Aspres: only red wines are produced here, which require at least 12 months of ageing.
- AOC Côtes-du-Roussillon villages: between the Corbières massif and the Têt, in the Agly valley, this appellation concerns only blended red wines made from syrah, mourvèdre, carignan, grenache noir, cinsault, lledoner pelut and, in small proportion, macabeu.
The AOC Côtes-du-Roussillon villages is enriched by 4 geographical denominations, all concentrated north of the Têt:
- Côtes-du-Roussillon villages Caramany
- Côtes-du-Roussillon villages Lesquerde
- Côtes-du-Roussillon villages Tautavel
- Côtes-du-Roussillon villages Latour-de-France
The PGI (Protected Geographical Indication)
In 2009, the local wines became PGIs. The Roussillon currently has three of them:
- IGP Côtes-Catalanes: this extends from Barcarès in the north of the Roussillon coastline, to Cerbère in the south, on the Spanish border.
- PGI Côte-Vermeille: this covers four communes on the Côte Vermeille, south of Argelès-sur-Mer, namely Collioure, Port-Vendres, Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère. The king grape variety is Grenache.
- IGP Pyrénées-Orientales: it is produced throughout the department.
Natural sweet wines (VDN)
The Roussillon vineyard is distinguished from the Languedoc essentially by its important production of natural sweet wines. The Pyrenees-Orientales region is responsible for 80% of French production. These wines are the result of a mutage process developed in the 13th century. They are the result of traditional vinification methods based on sugar-rich grapes. During fermentation, neutral alcohol is added to stop the process.
The natural sweet wines of Roussillon are available in 5 appellations:
- AOC Banyuls
- AOC Banyuls grand cru
- AOC Maury
- AOC Muscat de Rivesaltes
- AOC Rivesaltes