A clear step up from basic Côtes du Rhône in terms of both quality and price, the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation covers an area of 5,700 hectares entirely within the Southern Rhône. About 15 percent of the size of its generic counterpart, it offers mostly excellent, very good value wines from all three hues that are more serious, concentrated and interesting.
Red wines dominate, made up of a minimum 50 percent Grenache, at least 20 percent Syrah and Mourvèdre, and no more than 20 percent from 10 other named varieties. Out of 95 communes that are eligible to use the Villages name, the finest 18 of them have the right to append their village name, as long as the wine is exclusively from that commune. The classification is quite fluid though, with Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Beaumes de Venise and Vinsobres and Rasteau having been upgraded to AOC status, and other villages like Massif d’Uchaux and Plan de Dieu being added.
Best enjoyed from two to 10 years of age, the best wines probably come from Cairanne and Sablet, but all are well worth a look. The whites are rapidly improving and are delicious in their first three years. Rosé wines are made from the same cépage as the reds and are usually very good.
Recommended Producers: Chapoton, Domaine Cros de la Mûre, La Soumade