Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Languedoc Roussillon - Muscat de Rivesaltes and Rivesaltes

Muscat de Rivesaltes is the largest single sweet wine appellation in France, covering a total of 99 communes. Muscat de Rivesaltes wines are made predominantly from Muscat Blanc a Petit Grains and Muscat d'Alexandrie in varying ratios, according to the style desired by the individual producer. Muscat d'Alexandrie is an ancient grape that originated in North Africa, and the name is probably derived from its association with Ancient Egyptians who used the grape for wine making. It is said that Cleopatra drank muscat wine from this grape.

Rivesaltes is an appellation that is geographically identical with the appellation Muscat de Rivesaltes but it differs in terms of the permitted grape varieties in that they are not restricted to Muscat. The wines are red or white, and made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat d´Alexandrie, Grenache Noir, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Macabeau and Tourbat (Malvoisie du Roussillon), also, a maximum of 10% of Carignan, Cinsaut, Palomino and Syrah may be added to the blend. Of the approximately one dozen different Vins Doux Naturel’s in France (of which 8 are in the Languedoc Roussillon region), Rivesaltes accounts for 50%.

There are different types of Rivesaltes:

Rivesaltes Grenat

A very fruit-driven and accessible style with a rich, deep colour; grenat refers to the garnet-red hue. A minimum 75% Grenache, minimum one year in wood, three months in bottle before release.

Rivesaltes Ambre

As the name suggests, an amber hue. This is produced from the white varieties, and is then aged oxidatively in wood for at least two years, hence the deepening of the colour.

Rivesaltes Tuilé

This wine is handled in a similar manner to the Ambre, with a minimum two years ageing in wood producing an oxidative style, but here the varieties used are red, with a minimum of 50% Grenache in the blend.

Rivesaltes Hors d'Age

This description may be applied to the two categories immediately above, producing Ambre Hors d'Age and Tuilé Hors d'Age. Wines must have spent at least five years in wood before bottling.

Rivesaltes Rancio

A description applied to wine that has, through élevage in wood and oxidative handling, developed the goût de rancio that typifies the wines of Rivesaltes.


lostpastremembered said...

Anything with the word amber in it gets my attention... I always learn so much from your blog...
wish we could share a glass when I'm in England!!!

Sue said...

Thank you! I am busy hunting out recipes to go with the Muscats at the moment. When are you coming over to the UK and whereabouts are you staying?

lostpastremembered said...

I am coming to the Oxford Food Symposium in July... will stop by London area and then up north Lake District... so a lot of places (including Penshurst) Still firming things up... a lot of ancient kitchens to visit!!
Coming with a food historian friend from California. Email me at the address on my site!!! WOuld be fun! BTW, you are featured in my Grouse blog on Friday !

Sue said...

Will do! Thanks for the mention too!