The Ardeche is best known as a holiday destination. It’s stunning landscape, the dramatic gorges cut out of the rocks by the Ardeche and Ceze rivers, steep hills and valleys and beautiful old villages make it a favourite holiday destination.
But the Ardeche also boasts three major appellations: Cotes du Vivarais, Coteaux de l'Ardeche, and the vineyards that just touch the Cotes du Rhône around Bourg St Andeol at the very South Eastern corner of the region.
There is a long history of Wine production in the Ardeche can be traced back two thousand years, to the time of the Gauls, when the region was described as the "valley of wine". Wine production was a major activity until the vines were, as in most of Europe, devastated by Phylloxera in the late 19th century. The planting then of hybrid vines, which were resistant to phylloxera but not permissible under French law for the production of quality wines, meant that the region suffered until they replaced these the with noble varieties in the late 1960s, including Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat.
One of the major Burgundy houses, Louis Latour began producing Chardonnay in the Ardeche, which gave a great boost to the region in the late 1970s, and their Grande Ardeche Chardonnay is a rich, buttery wine, with hints of its Burgundian roots.
But the real gems of the Ardeche are the as yet mostly undiscovered wines produced by the smaller growers, and the Union des Vignerons des Coteaux de l’Ardeche (UVICA) was set up in 1967 as a co-operative group, which now has 1500 winemakers that grow vines on 7500 hectares of vineyards. The wines made here are of a high quality that reflect the diverse terroir and a winemaking tradition that goes back centuries.
Among these are the Les Terrasses range, a red white and rose that are typical of the region.
The white is made with Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. The blend of these two varieties gives a floral nose of citrus, lemon and mint. This is a lovely aperitif wine, and also marries particularly well with white fish in light sauces.
The rose is a pale pink in colour. A blend of two traditional grapes of the Rhone, Grenache and Syrah. On the nose the Syrah brings its typical characteristics and aromas of red fruits, raspberries and strawberries, while the Grenache gives a soft, well rounded palate. This wine is great with barbecues, salads and all kinds of cold meats, or just on its own on a sunny afternoon in the garden.
The red is made with Grenache and Merlot , this is a deep red wine with aromas of ripe fruit. In the mouth it is velvety soft, a very drinkable wine, rounded with good structure and finesse. Perfect on its own, with grilled meats or a Sunday roast.