Wines from the Southern Rhône village of Cairanne will soon be able to tout that name on their bottles. The French body that oversees wine appellations, the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO), officially approved Cairanne as an appellation communale on Feb. 10. After an eight-year process, the commune is officially a standalone appellation, meaning its wines can be labelled Cairanne, instead of Côtes-du-Rhône Villages.
"This new appellation status was only made possible thanks to the passion, determination and high expectations [of] a bunch of winegrowers from Cairanne," Denis Alary, a winegrower and president of the local winegrowers syndicate, told Wine Spectator. "This rewarding decision from the national authorities illustrates Côtes-du-Rhône Villages’ dynamism." The change takes effect beginning with the 2015 vintage.
Home to more than 2,300 acres of vines, Cairanne is located on the eastern side of the Southern Rhône valley, not far from the villages of Rasteau and Gigondas. Rasteau was the last village to be elevated to cru status, in 2010. Until now, wines from Cairanne were labeled Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, with the option of adding the village name as well.
Cairanne's soils are a mix of warm red clay and cooler calcareous clay. The best reds are often typified by racy graphite notes and fresh red and black fruit flavors. Cairanne also boasts a large number of old vines: 60 percent of the commune’s vines are more than 30 years old and there are roughly 980 acres of vines more than 50 years old.
The vast majority of Cairanne's wine production is red, with 5 percent white and 1 percent rosé. The reds must include at least 50 percent Grenache, with at least 20 percent of either Syrah and/or Mourvèdre. The whites can contain Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Viognier.
Some of the top Cairanne wines available today include bottlings by Domaine Alary, Regis & Bruno Boisson, Les Vins de Vienne, Domaine Les Grands Bois, Domaine Brusset and Achiary-Astart and others. According to the syndicate, 37 independent growers bottle their own wine from the village, along with three cooperatives.