Called oenotourisme or simply wine tourism, this pleasurable form of tourism combines the discovery of growing areas and their vintages. For more than 2000 years, winegrowers have been producing quality wines: Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, Vinsobres, Côtes du Rhône Villages of a legendary reputation!
Wine growing has shaped the landscape of the Drôme, especially the Tain-l’Hermitage area, Drôme Provençale and the Drôme Valley and Diois: three key wine-growing areas! So, let’s embark on 3 trips into the wine-growing heartland.
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Côtes du Rhône
Along the Rhône’s east-bank slopes, above the riverside town of Tain-l’Hermitage, the dramatic vineyards occupy steep slopes superbly exposed to the southern sun. Two top-class Rhône Valley wine-making areas triumph in these parts: Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage (both AOC). The wines derive from the same grape varieties for both, Syrah for the reds, Marsanne and Roussanne for the whites.
AOC Vinsobres :The Vinsobres vineyards have been awarded AOC status for their red production only. In fact, this is the first vine area in the Drôme Provençale to gain the prestigious status of a Cru des Côtes du Rhône. The wines are mainly made from a mix of Grenache and Syrah. With red-fruit aromas, Vinsobres vintages are powerful and well-structured.
The southern Drôme might be compared to an impressionist painting, with its lavender fields, olive orchards, its truffle oaks and vineyards. These are the lands south of the Drôme, land of great wines. Grignan-les-Adhémar are mainly red (accounting for c.85% of production). They’re made by the judicious mixing of five grape varieties: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. Their luminous red colours vary from vivid ruby to deeper hues. On the nose, you can detect hints of spices in them, such as cinnamon, pepper and vanilla, aromas of red fruits, and touches of liquorice. In the mouth, they’re soft to the taste and long in flavour
Unclassifiable: the Brézème. This small unknown appellation deserves, however, some attention. Located to the south of the Côtes du Rhône Septentrionales, it shares the geographical characteristics of wines from the Drôme Valley. Produced on slopes near Livron-sur-Drome region, this is the smallest AOC vineyard on the left bank of the Rhone. The colder climate Syrah produces a wine with a strong personality- very wild. Seven winemakers and a wine cooperative exploit twenty hectares planted.
The Diois vineyards
The Diois vineyards, reaching up to 700m in altitude, are said to be the highest in France. Often growing on steep, stony slopes, the plots of vines are small and demand a good deal of work to tend. AOC Clairette de Die is a sparkling wine made from a mix of small white Muscat grapes and white Clairette ones. It’s made according to an ancient local Diois method by which the fermentation occurs naturally in the bottle.
The Vignobles & Découvertes label
“Vignobles & Découvertes” is the national wine tourism label in France.
3 destinations in Drôme have received this label from Atout France : « From Hermitage to St Joseph », “Clairette Drôme Valley” and « the Drôme Provençale »
The local partners are wine cellars, accomodation center, restaurants, tourist sites, activities, events. All of them display the Vignobles & Découvertes label commit to respecting several requirements: a quality welcome in French or in another language, special sensitivity to the world of wine, authenticity and openness to natural, cultural and human heritage.
- The area « from Hermitage to St-Joseph », at the heart of ‘côtes du Rhône Septentrionales (North), is the home of the famous AOC hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage appellations whose terraced vineyards form such an emblematic backdrop to the Tain-L’Hermitage area.
- The “Clairette Drôme Valley” : land of Clairette de Die, Crémant de Die and Châtillon-en-Diois as well.
- The « Drôme Provençale » destination at the heart of the ‘Côtes du Rhône Méridionaux’, boasts the Vinsobres, AOP Grignan-les-Adhémar and IGP Coteaux des Baronnies vintages. These are all Drôme Provençale wine growing landscapes which, from the Rhône valley to the mid-range mountains of the Baronnies, have long been moulded by the planting of vineyards, alongside apricot orchards, lavender fields and truffle plantations, offering visitors a veritable colour coded mosaic, disgorging their own scents and sweet aromas.
Les routes des vins
🍇 The road of the ‘Côtes du Rhône septentrionaux’ wines
The Rhône, in the course of excavating its corridor has, determined the lines of this wine producing area. The valley sides are steep and uneven. Vineyards, planted on these abrupt slopes, create a spectacular sight. You sometimes have to follow a rather circuitous route to reach these far from ordinary landscapes as, for example, in the case of the outstanding Hermitage slopes. The AOC Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage appellations are the pride of the Drôme, as you will see if you visit the wineries of Tain-l’Hermitage and its neighbourhood.
🍇 La route de la Clairette
From Aouste-sur-Sye and up the Drôme valley as far as Luc-en-Diois, without forgetting the little loop via Beaufort-en-Gervanne, follow the signs which read « route de la clairette de Die ». A couple of dozen wineries and vineyards are open to visitors to help you discover the secrets of the Clairette, one of the highest altitude wine producing area in France.
The Grignan-les-Adhémar growing area is situated on the left bank of the Rhône, between Dauphiné and Provence, from Montélimar to Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux. This magnificent area offers unlimited sights, sounds, colours and aromas, with its wine growing landscapes set amidst lavender and ‘garigues’ Mediterranean vegetation, where cicadas sing. Truffle oaks, olive groves, fruit orchards and aromatic plants complete the picture. This is a sight which the marquise de Sévigné never tired of, from the windows of the château de Grignan.
🍇 In Drôme Provençale
Close your eyes and leave free rein to your senses! You are in the land of lavender fields, olive groves and truffle oaks. In the market squares of the Comtat Venaissin and the Dauphiné, you will discover an impressionist landscape from which spring sumptuous properties. Witnesses to a rich heritage, many châteaux lie along the way, such as Suze-la-Rousse which houses the ’Université du Vin’, where students from around the world gather each year. This is the home of many Côtes du Rhône Villages wines; see also the Vinsobres (AOC) vintage. This little corner of Drôme Provençale may well approximate to the paradise once sought by epicureans and hedonists.
* Alcohol is bad for your health, drink with moderation.