With its sunny Mediterranean disposition, most people associate the Rhône Valley with red wines, and they’re not wrong. But that’s not the whole story. In the Côtes du Rhône appellation and the Côtes du Rhône Villages category, 6% and 3% of all wine produced, respectively, is white. And while 10% of wine produced in the Côtes du Rhône AOC is rosé, it’s just 1% in the Villages category! Although this isn’t much, it makes these wines bona fide hidden gems that—just as much as red wines—embody the hallmarks of the Côtes du Rhône: quality, variety, versatility.
Of course, it all starts with the grapes. In the Côtes du Rhône AOC, regulations allow for eight varietals to be used in the making of white wines, with the most common being Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. Each brings its own character, creating wines with varied bouquets, flavours, levels of alcohol and acidity, and structures. When blended, these varietals produce wines with good flavours and appealing freshness. For rosé wines produced in the Côtes du Rhône AOC, at least 70% of the blend must be made up of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah—an additional touch of Cinsault is perfect for making light, fruit-forward rosés. Exploring different proportions of varietals allows winemakers from the Côtes du Rhône to produce incredibly diverse wines.
Wines from this appellation and the Villages category express themselves uniquely depending which grapes they’re made from and where these grapes grow. White wines tend to be lively, dry and light with floral aromas. In the north, you can find aromas of acacia, honey, mango, hazelnut, tobacco and more, while those produced further south exhibit aromas of peach, rose, citrus, linden and exotic fruits, among others. Only produced in the south, rosé wines are generally light, fruity and dry, offering aromas of red fruits, banana, toast and caramel.
And because wines from these appellations are so versatile, it’s easy to find appropriate pairings. Pair white wines with light-coloured dishes like seafood and cheeses. Likewise, rosés match well with “rosy” dishes like salmon, grilled meat and spicy dishes. No matter your taste, you’ll be able to find a match made in heaven.
What white and rosé wines from Côtes du Rhône lack in quantity, they more than make up for in quality and variety. Winemakers skillfully balance the influence of grape varietals, terroir and blending techniques to produce approachable wines of exceptional quality. A white or rosé wine (or even two!) from this list will complement your summer plans perfectly, whatever they are.
Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhone White AOC
Grenache blanc, Roussanne and Bourboulenc; well-balanced and fresh, with aromas of white fruits.
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé
Fresh and expressive nose; fruity and round on the palate. Overall, a well-balanced and elegant wine.
Château Saint-Nabor Côtes du Rhone White
Offering aromas of white fruits and acacia, this wine is fresh and crisp. Clean finish.
Xavier Vignon Côtes du Rhône Rosé
With 40% Cinsault, this blend is fresh and generous, with aromas of red fruits and spice.