These plots were very precisely defined by the INAO, the “Institut des Appellations et de la Qualité” (the French appellations and quality institute), in 1990 when Vacqueyras was promoted to the rank of “Cru”. This “terroir” of 1,390 hectares is made up of numerous plots, often of small size, spread over the two districts of Vacqueyras and Sarrians and laid out in terraces.
Under a real Mediterranean climate characterized by 2800 hours of sunshine per year, the vines in Vacqueyras are more ventilated than in other appellation areas. The wines therefore have more freshness and harmony, and more finesse too, whatever the colour.
• At Sarrians, the « plateau des Garrigues » consists mainly of gravel of alluvial origin set in the form of terraces by the Ouvèze, a vigorous, violent river. Garrigue gravel generally produces well coloured, tannic, powerful and spicy wines.
• Higher up at Vacqueyras, the sandy hillside slopes produce aromatic, fine and very fruity wines.
• Finally, in the area of sandstone and stony scree, at the top of the “appellation” area, the wines are smoother and very harmonious. Marl limestone soil, excellent for the vines, can also be found to the extreme East of the AOC.
In order to adapt it to the soils and the climate, and also to enable wines of great quality and typical character to be produced, the vine is managed according to precise and rigorous criteria :
A planting density of 4,000 vines/hectare minimum.
A short pruning system in order to provide better resistance to the « Maître-Vent » (wine master), the Mistral, which often blows over the area at over 100 km/hour ; Gobelet or Cordon de Royat pruning. Guyot pruning is required for the Viognier grape variety.
Only 2 eyes on the spurs are permitted to limit the burden on the vine and to ensure that very concentrated grapes develop.
The wines fully express the identity of the Vacqueyras “appellation”, The Strength and The Balance. Anyone, even non professionals, tasting the wine will always pick up these two complementary traits which are behind the perfect result. Powerful yet finely woven tannins, a developed spicy nose, and always fresh on the palate with a gentle finish.
Appearance : dense red colour, ranging from nuances of ruby for the young wines to deep garnet for the wines for ageing.
Nose : generous, fine and complex – this is how the Vacqueyras reds first express themselves. The red berries (fresh cherry) and dark berries (blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant) can be quickly picked out, along with touches of kirsch and notes of candied fruit (prune), and even fig on the mature vintages. Often, over time, the spicy nuances become more apparent, along with leather, game and even slightly smoky scents. Occasionally, there is a delicious liquorice note on the finish.
Palate : impressively structured, the red wines are fleshy, full and delicious ; their power and richness is illustrated by their substance and weight. On the palate, red berries can again be detected (blackberries and blackcurrants), spices such as white pepper. Liquorice and mineral notes develop over time. In summary, Vacqueyras reds can be appreciated for the subtle balance between the freshness of the fruit and the fullness of the aromas, born of sensuality and Mediterranean spirit.
> Serve at between 17 and 18°C with lamb, feathered game, marinated dishes, vegetable lasagne or cheeses.
Appearance : beautiful glowing light yellow, with bright, green highlights.
Nose : intense, Vacqueyras whites are floral on the nose, with notes of acacia and broom, often accompanied by a touch of citrus.
Palate : They impress with their great freshness, fruity and floral strength, and a full smoothness with touches of citrus and exotic fruit. They show enough fat and freshness within a balance which is typical and unique to this wine. The white wines aged in oak barrel will be even more powerful intense and complex, with notes of vanilla, butter and smokiness.
> Served at between 10 and 12°C, they are ideal as an aperitif, or with grilled fish as well as any Asian cuisine.
Appearance : bright, pretty coloured rosé, between coral and deep pink, with some golden highlights.
Nose : With their fruity bouquet, these wines are delicious and perfumed. They show an aromatic range of fresh red berries (redcurrant, strawberry), of garrigue scrubland or Mediterranean vegetation.
Palate : Full and generous. Vacqueyras rosé is a fresh, charming wine ; It’s a very expressive, gastronomic rosé, even if it remains very easy to drink when young, with aromas evocative of a basket of fresh fruit and stoned fruit (peach and nectarine).
> Serve at between 10 and 12°C with grills, cold marinated vegetables, pork meats and any ethnic cuisine.
Centred on the Grenache Noir, the backbone of the grape varieties and accounting for a minimum of 50% of the area planted, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault (mainly for the rosés) are the great grape varieties of the “appellation”.
• Grenache is traditional in the region as it adapts well to dry, windy, southern climates. It gives the wines smoothness, body and strength, and fruity, spicy aromas.
• Syrah and Mourvèdre should represent a minimum 20% of the varieties. Syrah is marked by a deep colour, powerful but finely woven tannic structure, and a broad aromatic range of dark berries or truffle.
• Mourvèdre, needing heat and late maturing, is planted on the best exposed terraces and gives the wines beautiful aromas as they age (animal, fruit compotes and leather notes).
• Cinsault is the grape variety which represents the great Rosés, to which it gives a lively character and aromas which are elegant and evocative of stoned fruit (peach, nectarine).
As for the other typical Rhône Valley varieties, Cinsault must not exceed 10% of the mix, in order to preserve the typical character and quality of the wines with the Vacqueyras “appellation’.
Although they are a minority (3% of the production), Vacqueyras white wines inspire by their combination of freshness and smoothness. They rely on the use of several grape varieties, expressed around the Grenache Blanc.
• Grenache Blanc brings power, smoothness and length to the blend.
• Bourboulenc and Clairette, two local varieties, are used for their floral aromas and liveliness.
• Roussanne, which is a recent variety like Marsanne and Viognier, brings an elegant aromatic touch and even more complexity.