The entire Rhone
Valley is frequently referred to as the Cotes du Rhone, but this is also the name of the generic appellation that covers more than 100 communes in the region north of Avignon. The primary varieties cultivated here are Grenache
, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault and Carignan
. Wines simply labeled Cotes du Rhone may rank at the bottom of the hierarchy, but the best of them are immediate and satisfying, with lush flavors of black pepper, roasted herbs, cherry, cassis, and raspberry. A number of villages have the right to call their wines Cotes du Rhone-Villages, or to append the actual name of the village. Wines designated Villages are generally a step up in quality and price, as they must produce a higher minimum alcoholic strength and come from vines producing lower yields. Large cooperatives still control a majority of the region's production, but their wines generally offer limited concentration and personality.