Grapes and Wine in the Roussillon Region
The vineyards can be found in small pockets scattered everywhere from terraced coastal hills to flat areas high in the Pyrenees.
Carignan is the most important grape variety in Roussillon. It is usually trained in a bush structure and requires hand-picking.
The photograph shows very ripe Syrah just before harvesting. The grapes were used to produce a dry fortified wine.
Grenache is usually used in blended wines such as the award-winning La Cuvée du Presbytère 2005 from Vignerons de Caramany.
A local grape called Lladoner Pelut is also used along with Grenache and Mourvèdre. Red wines are generally spicy and medium-bodied.
While machine harvesting is common on the river flats of the Maury Valley those areas that are terraced, on steep ground or just too small to warrant getting a machine in, hand-picking is the norm. In addition some varieties are grown in bushes and/or have bunches that make them difficult to remove by machine.
- hand-picking Grenache Blanc at St. Martin de Fenouillet
The Roussillon vineyards have two regional Appellations d’Origine Controlle i.e. Côtes du Rousillon and Collioure, which produces some excellent long-lasting reds. These break down into a number for zonal appellations such as AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages.
There are four appellations for the sweet fortified Vins Doux wines that are a speciality of the region: Banyuls, Maury, Rivesaltes and Muscat de Rivesaltes . Also there is an appellation for those villages that don’t make the top four areas! Grand Roussillon is an appellation for sweet wine from 89 Roussillon villages. The appellation is not including the sweet wines from Banyuls, Rivesaltes, Maury and Collioure which deserve their own appellation. Roussillon is without doubt an interesting region for sweet wines, both red and white. The grapes usually used are Muscat blanc, Muscat romain and Grenache for sweet white wine, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault and Lista for sweet red wine.
In addition there are six Vin de Pays appellations.
A typical zonal Appellation
Côtes du Roussillon
Côtes du Roussillon Villages label is granted to 25 villages along the Agly river, just south of Corbières. Côtes du Roussillon Villages produces only red wine. They are stronger than those from other Roussillon areas and express the most of their sunny terroir.