A French appellation
for (generally) red wine
s grown in the southern Rhône valley
in the vicinity
. Those of you who remember the French song which goes "Sur le pont d'Avignon...."
may remember that the Pope
s lived for a while in Avignon
. It was a big deal and was in all the papers.
As with most reds of the southern Rhône, these wines are largely composed of Grenache and Syrah grapes, along with some portion of Mourvèdre and Cinsault, though a grand total of 13 grape varieties are permitted for red wines bearing this name. You can think of these wines as being "super" Cotes du Rhones, in terms of quality, taste, and (unfortunately) price. You're also more likely to get a red that has a well developed tannic structure that will allow it to age.
In the not-too-distant past, this appellation was heavily abused, and lots of low-quality wines were sold under this name. The French have, I am told cracked down substantially on violations, and the name has regained its respectability. One general tip on buying what I shorthandedly refer to as a "C9": buy one with the Papal coat of arms embossed on the bottle--this means the wine was estate bottled and should therefore offer better drinking.
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