The vins doux naturels from Banyuls are made from vineyards on the steep Vermilion Coast on the rugged terrain of the terraces. It is the most southerly appellation in France, and its borders lie between the Catalan Pyrenees in Roussillon and the Empordà wine region in Catalonia in Spain. The climate here is hot and windy and the grapes become very ripe, frequently shrivelling like raisins while still on the vine.
These sweet wines are famous and there are a couple of high-flying domaines in the region - even the Rhone négociant Chapoutier has a presence here. White, rosé and red versions are available. They are all made with a minimum of 50% of either Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Maccabau, Tourbat, Muscat Blanc and Muscat d´Alexandrie, and are blended with a maximum of 10% of Carignan, Cinsaut and Syrah.
The AC Banyuls Rancio applies to wines that have been matured for a minimum of two years in oak barrels that are exposed to sunshine. These often develop an amber colour, and have the typical rancio maturation note. The AC Banyuls Grand Cru applies to wines that are made from a minimum of 75% Grenache Noir, are made from de stemmed grapes, and were matured for a minimum of 30 months in oak barrels. In addition there is an AC Banyuls Grand Cru Rancio. When appropriately made, Banyuls is extremely long-lived, and resembles port wine. It has an intense nose and flavour of coffee, honey, vanilla and dried fruit.