• Our Story

    In 2016, Cairanne was officially elevated to Côtes du Rhône Cru status – a badge of honour, richly-deserved by this magical terroir tucked away in the southern Rhône Valley.

History

Cairanne is the gateway to the vineyards of the southern Rhône. In 2016, the village was awarded Côtes du Rhône Cru status in its own right – a badge of honour and accolade for Cairanne’s winegrowers, who had worked for decades to protect and promote their unique terroir, resisting the easy life, and devoting themselves to their vineyards and the economic development not only of their beloved village, but of the region as a whole.

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7,000 YEARS BC

NEOLITHIC TIMES

The earliest evidence of human habitation here are the remains of a Neolithic ossuary. There is, however, much later evidence of contact between the Celtic tribes occupying the region and the Phocaeans; this seems to be when olive trees and vines were introduced into the area. Extensive Roman remains confirm these were planted in vast swathes, while findings of amphora sherds suggest that the vines were already being grown for wine.

Castri Cayranne

After the relative stability of the Pax Romana, the region suffered centuries of Barbarian invasions and Saracen attacks. It wasn’t until the 8th century that the first written documentation featuring the word ‘Queylanne’ was discovered. Meanwhile, the Middle Ages left further evidence of human settlement, in the form of a priory located to the west of the area. The name Castri Cayranne first appeared in a papal bull dated 1123, confirming the existence of a village on its own fortified promontory; later still, the Knights Templar built a walled castle which can still be seen in the old village today.

8th century

16th century

Self-sufficiency

In the 14th century, Cairanne was annexed to the papal territories, remaining under their protection until 1793, when Comtat Venaissin once again became part of France. Until the mid-19th century, local agriculture was mainly geared towards self-sufficiency. Lack of water was a major problem. The arrival of the railways sparked a move towards growing cash crops, encouraging the clearing of the garrigue scrublands. Little by little, vineyards and olive groves took over the land.

From Subsistence Farming to Monoculture

In the second half of the 19th century, the village population dwindled as villagers moved out of the centre to work on farmsteads, or to settle in the new population hub which sprang up close to the newly-built road below the village.
From the 1920s, the number of olive groves decreased as vineyards took over. Cairanne managed to avoid a rural exodus, as vines were a labour-intensive crop and there was no shortage of work. Years later in the 1970s, the old village was rebuilt, attracting newcomers to the area.

19th century

1959

Community Spirit

There is an unmistakeable village feel to Cairanne - a community spirit going back several generations, with wine as its focus. Winegrowers here have been very successful in championing Cairanne wines to bring the community together. Caveau du Belvédère is a prime example. It was the first winery to offer Côtes du Rhône tastings as early as 1959, and has since worked tirelessly to promote the appellation wines.

Official Recognition

By 1953, winegrowers in Cairanne had been authorised to add their village name to the label of any Côtes du Rhône wines made here, and in 1967, the Côtes du Rhône Villages Cairanne appellation was officially registered. However, winegrowers felt they could move even further up the quality ladder, and in 2008 they applied for the ultimate accolade: standalone appellation status. Authorisation was granted, and on 29th June 2016, Cairanne officially became a Cru of the Côtes du Rhône.

2016

Terroir

The village of Cairanne nestles at the south side of the hills between the valleys of the Aygues and the Ouvèze. This single village in the north-west of Vaucluse makes up the entire appellation.

The 1,088-hectare terroir comprises 3 distinct areas, each contributing its own character to Cairanne’s complex, elegant wines. These are: the terraces of the river Aygues to the west, the Miocene slopes to the north, and the garrigue to the south of the village.

The climate here is Mediterranean – dry with plenty of sunshine – and heavily influenced by the Mistral, which gusts through the vineyards, helping the grapes stay healthy all year round.

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The Terraces of the Aygues

These lie to the west of the village and are made up of pebbles, clay and sand, known as light brown soils. Sandy soils encourage fine-grained tannins, giving fresh, light, elegant wines.
Wines grown here are full of red berry flavours and liquorice, with a delightfully light touch.ut en légèreté.

Miocene Slopes

The hills to the north of the village - the Montagne du Ventabren - date from the Miocene era; they make up one of the village’s major terroirs. Erosion has cut into the mass of limestone pebbles with the occasional vein of flint alternating with Miocene marl, creating a balanced soil in which the vines thrive, and giving them elegant, complex aromas, generously expressed. The gently undulating slopes face south, giving the wines good depth and freshness.
The peaks comprise Miocene alluvial deposits with cobbles and limestone gravel, enclosed in the yellow, ochre and brown marls that also cap the slopes.
This terroir delivers flavours of black fruit and spices, with plenty of complexity and freshness.

The Garrigue

To the south of the village we find the garrigue scrublands – stony, alluvial soils over a bed of fine-grained matter dating from the Tertiary (brown clay soils). Stones and cobbles store heat then release it to the vines, while clay provides moisture during periods of intense heat, when the vines need it most. The climate on this plateau – sunshine with enough wind to provide ventilation – encourages the grapes to ripen fully, giving sun-drenched, generous wines with flavours of ripe fruit and spice.

Our Pledges

The people of Cairanne love their land, and work hard to showcase and protect their spectacular natural heritage. The standards they set for their own wines exceed those of any other Côtes du Rhône Cru, taking into consideration not only the protection of the vines and their natural environment, but also the needs of the consumer.

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The winegrowers have a similar goal: to showcase what nature has given them, in an authentic, sustainable way. This includes:

Protecting the soils

Volunteer crops are never completely eradicated – they encourage biodiversity of fauna and flora.

Protecting regional character

Vineyard plantings are set at 50% minimum of Grenache for red wines and 30% minimum of Clairette for whites.

Protecting our vines

Grapes are harvested by hand, both to preserve the quality of the fruit and uphold our tradition of bush (gobelet) pruning the vines – a method that works particularly well here.

Protecting the wines and the consumer

All grapes are sorted on sorting tables either in the vineyard or the winery, ensuring that only healthy fruit goes into the wine. 
Sulphites are limited to the lowest levels permissible for organic wines.

Winegrowers have an important part to play in landscape conservation. They maintain natural hedgerows, for example, or plant trees to promote biodiversity, encouraging beneficial insects to protect their vines against pests. This in turn reduces the need for artificial pesticides.
Safeguarding the landscape also includes maintaining the cabanons - the vineyard huts which are a characteristic feature of the village.

> Download our production specifications

23%

Bio (Surfaces)

30 000 hl

Total production

5% | 95%

Whites | Reds

40 | 38hl/ha

Whites | Reds