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France, Crozes-Hermitage

Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More-so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.

Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.

Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)

The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
Crozes-Hermitage was officially defined as an appellation in 1937 and is a subregion of the northern Rhône wine region located on the 45th parallel in France. It was expanded in 1952 and became renowned for the many cooperatives there in particular Cave de Tain and Jaboulet. The region produces more wine than the seven other appellations in the northern Rhone combined.

It's the largest appellation in the northern Rhone and produces mostly (90%) Syrah wines though lesser amounts of the white varieties Roussane and Marsanne are grown (10%). The Roussanne and Marsanne are either co-fermented with Syrah or made as white wines as straight varietals or as a blend. The area to the north of Tain L'Hermitage has a very favorable mesoclimate with warmth-retaining granite bedrock, producing richer wines with more complexity than those from the generally flatter lands of the south.

To the north, Crozes-Hermitage's climate is temperate with an almost constant wind that blows and dries the air along the Rhône corridor. When the wind blows from the north, along come fine weather and much needed freshness in the hot summer months, and a biting cold in winter. on the other hand a southerly wind tends to be followed by storms, particularly in summer. Further south the Mediterranean climate’s influence plays a bigger part. The southern parts of Crozes-Hermitage experience very high annual sunshine hours and particularly hot, dry, summers. Annual rainfall is moderate throughout the region with most notable downpours occurring at the end of summer.

The wines from Crozes-Hermitage can be wonderfully aromatic and a considerable bargain when compared to their Hermitage counterparts. Although they are generally less complex than the wines from Hermitage, the wines can have plenty of bright fruit aromas and good structure.
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  1. Maxime Graillot Domaine des Lises Equis Crozes-Hermitage 2010
    Maxime Graillot's estate grown Crozes comes from a single vineyard near the village of Beaumont-Monteux, only a couple of kilometres from his father's vines. Here, in the most south-easterly part of the appellation, the soils are full of gravel and ... Learn More
  2. Domaine Michelas St Jemms Hermitage Terres D'Arce 2015
    Domaine Michelas st Jemms are the oldest individual winery in Crozes Hermitage established in 1961. They were the first family to leave the Cave de Tain cooperative, becoming the first independent in the region, and setting the stage for many others ... Learn More
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    Alistair Cooper MW
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