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L'école des vins
On the right bank of the Rhône, the Saint-Joseph vineyard is situated on the 45th parallel, and is planted on steep hillside terraces which date from many centuries ago. Saint-Joseph wine was formerly known as Vin de Mauves; its current name was coined by Jesuits in the 17th century. The appellation is known for its red wines, made predominantly from Syrah, which are powerful and elegant, and, on a smaller scale, for whites made from Roussanne and/or Marsanne. Like their terroir, the appellation winegrowers have demanding standards, seeking to produce only the best wine. But although they’re serious, they’re far from humourless; every year the appellation hosts the National Festival of Comedy.
For red wines, the primary varietal is Syrah, although winemakers are authorised to add 10% of Roussanne or Marsanne to the blend to add finesse. Syrah wines are powerful, with spicy, peppery aromas and a touch of violet, giving Saint-Joseph wines a brooding, aromatic character.
Whites are well-balanced and full of flavour, yellow in colour with a glimmer of green and a structure that changes according to the blend. Roussanne gives good quality wines, with elegance, an enviable range of aromas including apri- cot, hawthorn, green coffee and honeysuckle with a subtle touch of narcissus. Marsanne requires a dry, hot climate with plenty of sunshine, but is robust and vigorous and can thrive in the poorest of soils. Its wines are powerful, with medium acidity. Floral aromas develop on ageing, alongside notes of hazelnuts.
Discover the best food and wine pairing in the Rhône Valley. Specialties of the local gastronomy sublimated by wines of the region like Saint-Joseph to thrill of pleasure the taste buds of the most greedy.
Crus des Côtes du RhôneSaint-Joseph
The vineyards of Saint-Joseph were planted by the Greeks and later maintained by the Romans, who already saw potential in the steep slopes on the right bank of the Rhône.
The A.O.C. takes its name from a vineyard located between Tournon and Mauves. Saint Joseph wines graced the most prestigious tables across Europe and Russia, and even Charlemagne was said to enjoy them immensely. The first written evidence of wine being made here dates back to the 17th century, but its name came from the monks who owned the monastery where the vineyards grew. Later, Mauves wine was mentioned in Hugo’s Les Misérables: “My brother offered him some of that good Mauves wine”.
In the 20th century, the winemakers formed a union to protect the Saint-Joseph appellation, and in 15th June 1956, the wine was officially recognised as an AOC. The appellation area runs through 26 communes, across 1,300 ha. The vineyards wind their way through Chavanay to Guilherand, connecting Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie in the north with Saint-Péray and Cornas in the south.
From Chavanay in the north to Guilherand in the south, the appellation stretches for around 50km along the right bank of the Rhône. It encompasses 23 communes in the Ardèche and 3 in the Loire.
The climate here is semi-continental, and harvests are relatively late. There are a few variations in soil and sun exposure, but the combination of Mediterranean and continental climates makes the wines of Saint-Joseph distinctive.
The vineyards are planted largely on terraces on fairly steep slopes, a crucial factor for sun exposure and drainage.
The main component of the appellation soils is granite, but other soils are present and have an impact on production. The southern area is made up of tender gneiss and complex, acidic granite.
The diversity of the appellation soils gives the wines their character and provides the three varietals grown here with all the nutrients they need to flourish.
87% red13% white
Rendement moyen annuel
1 330 ha
Superficie de production
51 111 hl