Grignan-Les-Adhémar: A red and white wedding


Often referred to as a single entity, the Rhône really consists of two distinct regions. The Northern Rhône is a long valley stretching north-south, its powerful, dark reds made from the spicy Syrah. Directly underneath lies the Southern Rhône, an expanse of plains and rolling hills where the plump, juicy Grenache is central to their strawberry-and-damson scented blends.

There is one appellation however that feels like a marriage of these two partners. Though located in the south, Grignan-Les-Adhémar can’t take its eyes of the north. Geographically it’s very close; it sits between Avignon and Montélimar. It shares grape varieties with the Northern Rhône; winemakers blend Syrah and Grenache fairly equally here, and often use the Viognier grape of the north in their aromatic whites.

Many marriages involve a change of name, and Grignan is no different: the appellation was once called Côteaux du Tricastin. The official reason the appellation changed its name is that winemakers didn’t want to associate themselves with the nearby nuclear power station of the same name. Although understandable (imagine marketing Sellafield Mineral Water…), it’s a shame, as the gnarled name of Grignan belies the beauty of the town it’s named after and its surrounding countryside; rust-coloured truffle oaks in autumn, swaying fields of lavender in summer.

As a wine appellation, it feels like Grignan is having difficulty perfecting its signature. But their calling card is an appealing freshness thanks to the northerly Mistral wind that whips through its vineyards. The reds are often light, lean and very drinkable; the whites perfumed but not heavy. And with no established reputation, winemakers have to price their wines keenly to sell them. If you enjoy the reds of the Loire and Beaujolais, the best from Grignan can make a good value alternative.


Domaine de Montine ‘Gourmandises’ Blanc 2012 (The Wine Society, £7.95)

This straightforward but stylish white is made by one of the best family-owned estates of the appellation. It’s a great value crowd-pleaser – a clean, lightly floral nose and a rounded texture.

Delas Grignan-Les-Adhémar Rouge 2012 (Alistair Nugent Vintners, £8.46)

Fine and perfumed, this light red has all the characteristic freshness of the region. With authentic blackcurrant aromas and gentle tannins this would make a refreshing mid-week option.

Vignerons Ardéchois ‘Le Grand Deves’ Rouge 2012 (Yapp Brothers, £8.95)

This has more Syrah in the blend than the Delas, providing some spice alongside the blackcurrant, cranberry and dried herb aromas. Light to medium-bodied, very well-balanced with a savoury finish.

First published in Living France magazine.