Côtes du Rhône wines: the wines of the Popes
We are all big fans of Côtes du Rhône wines, their diverse range of appelations and unique styles.
Probably, it can be more surprising the fact that their fortune has been tightly connected to the Papacy, the Popes and their great love for Côtes du Rhône wines.
In the 13th century, the French King Louis VIII granted the Comtat Venaissin to Pope Gregory X. In the 14th century, the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon and the popes, great lovers of the local Côtes du Rhône wines, planted extensive vineyards around the city.
John XXII, the second of the seven Avignon popes, had a summer residence built at Châteauneuf du Pape. Benedict XII, the third Avignon pope, ordered the building of the Palais des Papes.
Later, at the end of the 17th century, and for the next 200 years, the port of Roquemaure (Gard) became a great centre for the shipping of goods by river.
Côtes du Rhône wines and their solid reputation
“Côste du Rhône” was then the name of an administrative district of the Viguerie d’Uzès (Gard), famous for its wines. Regulations were introduced in 1650 to guarantee their provenance and quality. But not until the mid-19th century did “Côste du Rhône” become “Côtes du Rhône”, when the term was extended to include the vineyards on the left bank of the river.
Their reputation, built up over the centuries, was legally validated by the district courts of Tournon and Uzès in 1936.
Christophe Tassan, in his work “Flânerie dans le Vignoble de la Vallée du Rhône”, states:
“Just imagine! 250 km from north to south, 250 communes […] The vineyards of the Rhone Valley are a world apart, a shifting landscape which winds and unwinds around a fluid axis: the Rhone, king of rivers, carrying silt and a sense of history. The Rhone is the linking factor, holding together these contrasting landscapes. From Vienne to Nîmes and Avignon, and on to the borders of the Luberon, on both banks of the river, there is a wealth of places to explore.”
Credits: Inter Rhône, rhone-wines.com.
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