Côte-Rotie Wine Fair – Tasting with the Locals

With temperatures below normal across France this past weekend and the northern half of the country under snow storm warnings, what better way to stay warm than visit a wine fair? The 85th annual Marché aux Vins de Côte-Rôtie in Ampuis (January 18-21, 2013) was packed with mostly portly white Frenchmen, running the gamut from wine professionals slurping and spiting to good time Joes throwing a few back with vieux amis.

Côte-Rotie is a small appellation in the northern Rhône valley consisting of a section of steep, south facing hills along the Rhône river, hence the name Côte-Rotie, roasted hillside. The region’s grape is Syrah which is sometimes co-fermented with up to 20%of the white grape Voignier. This enhances the wine’s characteristic floral fragrance.

For 8 Euros the fair offers the opportunity to taste and buy wines from 60 local makers of Côte-Rotie and the neighboring appellations of St. Joseph, Hermitage, and Condrieu, a white wine made from 100% Voignier. While a serious affair, the event can be entertaining for any level of wine enthusiast allowing you to experience firsthand a slice of French culture.

Outside the main entrance food purveyors quench appetites and give a respite from the dizzying quantity of wines.

Upcoming regional wine fairs include:

February 22-25, 2013 – 29th annual Salon des Vins Côte du Rhône Septentrionales (northern)- Tain l’Hermitage, Espace Rochegude – about 50 kilometers south of Ampius.

March 22-25, 2013 – 11th Salon Savim Printemps – Marseille

April 13&14, 2013 – 4th Marché aux VinsCairanne – southern Rhône.

Update – For a detailed report of the 2013 Tain l’Hermitage Salon click here.

For links to all the posts in this series see the South of France page.

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