AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages

The AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages is found in the north of Roussillon. The region is crossed from west to east by the Agly, the most northern of Roussillon’s three main rivers, and stretches across 51 villages (communes). Here, it is all about the blend.

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages produce dry reds only, from 5 authorised varieties: Grenache noir, Carignan, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Lledoner Pelut. Generally, the appellation’s wines boast ripe red fruit, spices, and mineral notes. They are pleasant, well balanced, powerful and complex wines, which are suitable for ageing.

The beautiful Agly valley, the core of Roussillon’s vineyards is where brown and black schists dominate. Elsewhere, north of the Têt river (which borders the area to the south), granitic and gneissic sandy soils can be found while clay-limestone and limestone soils dominate in the foothills of the Corbières. It is this patchwork of soils and subsoils, a legacy of Roussillon’s turbulent geological past, which explains the multitude of micro-terroirs and resulting characteristics of its wines.

Côtes du Roussillon Villages comprises a further 5 village-specific appellations. These recognise ‘cru’ areas located on some of the special terroirs of the Agly and Têt valleys and the Aspres terroir. Each displays different qualities, from the meaty, aromatic Tautavel to the fleshy Caramany.

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Caramany produces wines that are supple, fresh, and full-bodied. Carbonic maceration of Syrah and Carignan is used to produce fruit-driven reds, meant to be drunk young. Other, concentrated, wines display notes of crushed dark fruits, spices and a distinctive ‘garrigue’ character. A minimum of 2 varietals should be used, and the main varietal should make up 40% to 70% of the blend. Mourvèdre is not allowed.

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France produces wines with minerality, complexity and good ageing potential. Vines are planted on rocky soils of grey schist as well as on red clay limestone. A terroir of garrigue and schist imparts mineral and ‘wilderness’ characters as well as sweet spices. At least 2 varietals should be used in the blend. The key varietal should be kept to a maximum of 70%.

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Lesquerde wines are sophisticated reds marked by notes of minerals, graphite, spices and flowers. The appellation covers the communes of Lesquerde, Lansac and part of Rasiguères, located in the heart of the Fenouillèdes mountains, northwest of Perpignan. Vines spread across a vast plateau at 320 meters above sea level, on sandy granitic soils that are rich in iron and gypsum. At least 2 varietals should be used. The key varietal can make up to 70% of the blend. Mourvèdre is not allowed.

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel are wines with strong, complex and persistent tannins with notes of dark fruit, garrigue and spices. They are wines made mostly for ageing. Vineyards stretch over 2 villages, Tautavel and Vingrau, and are planted on hills. Soils are predominantly limestone and limestone-clay scree. Two varietals should be used and the main one should not make up more than 70% of the blend.

AOP Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Aspres stretches over 19 villages, right in the centre of the Eastern Pyrenees. These are selected parcels with fine gravel which produce elegant wines with wild, spicy notes, meant for ageing. Vines grow on rocky terraces mixed with yellow and red sandy clays, south of the Têt river. Lledoner Pelut is not authorised and at least 3 varietals should be used, with the key 2 varietals making up no more than 90% of the blend.

For a list of Côtes du Roussillon Villages available in the UK, email: winesofroussillon@otaria.co.uk.