La Louche sits in the very centre of the Ventoux (formerly Côtes du Ventoux wine) region. From the upper floor windows or from the lovely terrace you can see some of the vineyards from which the wines of this emerging appellation are made. Or you can take a ten minute walk to the Cooperative Vinicole St Marc, one of the largest wine centres in the region.
Being in the centre of this region doesn’t limit you. Ten minutes to the west you'll find the fabulous wines of the newly recognised Beaumes de Venise appellation. Drive for a few more minutes and you arc through the vineyards of Gigondas and then Vacqueyras, then on to nirvana in the rocky vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Remember also that there is a jewel of a drink in the Vaucluse that is often looked down on in Australia and the United States! Everywhere in Provence you will see people sitting down for lunch and immediately ordering a bottle of rosé. This wine perfectly matches the lifestyle, the climate and the food.
There are many good Vaucluse rosés including those from Château Val Joannis, Château la Canorgue, La Vieille Ferme and Domaine de la Citadelle. If you want to look for rosés further afield explore those from Tavel across the Rhône or try the wonderful Domaine Tempier rosé from Bandol on the coast.
One of the first questions people ask is what is the meaning of the term appellation? In France it can be used to describe both a region and a means of producing wine. So for a wine to bear the label Châteauneuf-du-Pape it must be produced from grapes grown within the area specifically identified by the appellation – bordered by the A7 on the east and the Rhône on the west. It must also conform to the production requirements - appellations can have rules about the maximum yield, the type of pruning, the required grape varieties and much more. Some even have tasting panels that judge whether the wine meets certain quality standards.
The key appellations within Vaucluse are:
IGP ( Indication Géographique Protégée)
The lowest level of appellation in the Vaucluse is the Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) which replaces the former Vin de Pays. There are two main areas that have such an appellation namely Vaucluse IGP and Principaute d'Orange IGP.
The vineyards of the Principauté d'Orange IGP are obviously found in the area around the historic city of Orange in the north western section of Vaucluse stretching towards the pleasant town of Vaison-la-Romaine. The plain that separates the Ventoux from the Luberon appellations situated from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue through to Apt contributes much of the wine that is classified as Vaucluse IGP.
Côtes du Rhône
The best known appellation is the massive Côtes du Rhône which covers much of the west of Vaucluse, moves across the Rhone into the Gard and then moves up towards the northern areas of Hermitage, Cornas, finishing at the city of Vienne. Because the Côtes du Rhône is such a large appellation and because the quality varies from good to excellent, a number of special appellations have been identified within the area. Wine made from vineyards in 76 villages (communes) have the right to add the word Villages to the Côtes du Rhône appellation.
One of our favourite Côtes du Rhône producers is the Perrin brothers’ Château de Beaucastel. We also love the wines from Domaine Le Clos du Caillou where the Côtes du Rhône vines are separated from the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vines by the A7 freeway. Another label to take seriously is Domaine Marcel Richaud from Cairanne.
The Luberon appellation spreads along the spine of hills that divide the Durance and Coulon rivers from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue through to Apt. It is a relatively recent appellation (1988), however, there is very serious money moving into the area and the wines here are causing some excitement in wine circles.
Labels to seek out include Château de l'Isolette and Château la Canorgue.
The Ventoux appellation lies between the area designated as Luberon in the south and the massive Mont Ventoux to the north. In fact, the vineyards you can see from La Louche are from this appellation.
Whites, reds and rosés are found here of varying quality, but there are some that are excellent, all within a short drive of our house. There has recently also been interest in the area from some of the better wine makers of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Burgundy. Labels to seek out are:
The lovely village of Vacqueyras that lies to the east of Orange was elevated to its own appellation in 1990 because of the powerful reds it produces. These wines are often blends of Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre.
Look for the Tardieu-Laurent and Domaine de Boissan labels.
The Gigondas appellation lies to the north of Carpentras on the western slopes of the fabulous Dentelles de Montmirail. Gigondas was given its own appellation status in 1971 due to the increasing reputation of the powerful reds produced here.
The village of Gigondas itself is a picture postcard perfect location and well-worth a visit. The labels that attract the most interest from this appellation are Domaine Raspail-Ay and Domaine Les Pallieres.
Beaumes de Venise
Beaumes de Venise is a tricky appellation to understand. The pleasant village lies just north of Carpentras and a few kilometres to the west of Caromb. It is widely known for its stunning dessert wines, however this is not the reason it gained its own appellation status in 2006.
Previously it had Côtes du Rhône Villages (named village) status for its reds, but in early 2006 it was elevated to its own appellation to sit alongside Gigondas and Vacqueyras. There is a separate appellation for the sweet wines known as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. Look for the reds from Domaine de Fenouillet and for the best of the sweet wines from the area try the Domaine de Durban.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the most famous appellations in France. Its wines are now highly prized and becoming quite expensive. The vines here are grown in the famous rocky soils that absorb the sun’s rays during the day and keep the vines warm at night. The main labels to look for are: