Vinsobres: exploring this southern Rhône appellation

Based in the Drome in the northeast of the southern Rhone, Vinsobres is a beautiful area. The village has Gallo-Roman origins.

The valley of the Aigues river creates and amphitheatre of vines facing south east, going up to from 200-450 m in altitude. There are winds here, too, bringing freshness. These are the Mistral and Pontias.

It became Cru Vinsobres in 2006, and makes 100% red wines under the cru – the rosés and whites aren’t cru Vinsobres.

Grenache is the key variety, accounting for 70% of the vineyard area, with support from Mourvedre and Syrah. There’s also a host of accessory varieties that can be used, including some whites. There are 522 hectares of vines here, so it’s not a huge cru.

There is quite a bit of limestone here with some clay and sand. This helps with the freshness of the wines.

In 1956 the big freeze killed a lot of olive trees, and many were replaced with vineyards, which can produce grapes within three years. This was instrumental in establishing Vinsobres. In 1957 Vinsobres became CdR Villages.

One-third of the appellation is farmed organically now. Many estates are under conversion.


Domaine Chaume Arnaud 2018 Vinsobres, France
50% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Cinsault, 15% Mourvedre. This an organic estate. Nice purity here with sweet, open red and black cherry notes with some liqueur-like richness, and a sense of elegance on the palate. There are some fine spicy notes on the palate which add interest, as well as some pepper. Lovely open, elegant fruit here with good purity. Very stylish, showing notes of black tea and fine pepper. 94/100

Domaine Purviti Terre d’Altitude 2019 Vinsobres, France
Organic. Supple, ripe and elegant with fresh liqueur-like fruit. Shows elegance and purity. Juicy red fruits, with good structure. 94/100

Nicolas Duponcelle Clos No 11 2019 Vinsobres, France
Ripe but balanced with lovely focus and structure to the pure cherry and plum fruit. Compact with good acidity and structure, showing nice freshness, finishing juicy. 93/100

Domaine Saint Vincent Tradition 2020 Vinsobres, France
Equal parts Grenache and Syrah from bony pebble soils with some clay. No wood. Sweet, lush and aromatic, but still fresh with appealing sweet cherry and plum fruit, with liquorice and truffle detail. There’s generosity here in the mouth, but there’s also a bit of tannin reining in the sweet, plump fruit. Very stylish and appealing. 93/100

Domaine Vallot Le Corançon 2017 Vinsobres, France
Organic. Ripe with good concentration of sweet cherries and plums, as well as a hint of liqourice. Nice depth and structure. Stylish and modern. 93/100

Domaine Serre Besson 2018 Vinsobres, France
52% Grenache, 44% Syrah, the balance Mourvedre and Cinsault. 350 m altitude. Concrete for fermentation and ageing, apart from the Syrah which is matured in 400 litre French oak barrels. There’s a spicy, slighty woody edge to the nose, sitting under the sweet black cherry fruit. There’s some warmth and also freshness on the palate with sleek black cherry and plum fruit, as well as a touch of liqourice. Good definition and structure although the wood needs time to integrate. 92/100

Domaine da Tave Cuvée Paradis 2019 Vinsobres, France
Ripe, structured and quite modern and juicy with fresh, vibrant cherry and plum fruit. There’s some structure here. Quite solid. 92/100

Domaine Coste Chabrier Cuvée Confiance 2019 Vinsobres, France
Organic. Plump, juicy and bright with nice vivid pepper-laced cherry and plum fruit. Nice grainy finish. 92/100

Domaine Autrand 2020 Vinsobres, France
Generous, open and fresh with lovely sweet cherry and plum fruit and a nice juiciness. Fresh, showing nice purity and texture. 92/100

La Vinsobraise Diamant Noir 2019 Vinsobres, France
This is from the coop. 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. Destemmed then fermented in stainless steel. Fresh, pure and well defined with a nice spicy grip under ripe cherry and berry fruits, with a touch of liqourice. It shows lovely brightness of fruit with good tannins and a vibrant spicy finish. Generous, direct and fruit-driven, and with potential for development. 92/100

Domaine Vallot François 2017 Vinsobres, France
65% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 3% Mourvèdre. Concrete tank. This is fresh, midweight and supple with a savoury, slightly grainy edge to the plum and red cherry fruit. It has a nice sense of elegance but there’s also a bit of grip. Drying a little on the finish, this is appealing and very drinkable. I wouldn’t hold a lot longer because the fruit will recede too much. But this is in a good place now. 90/100

Domaine Saint Vincent 2020 Vinsobres, France
Juicy, bright and spicy. Peppery, vivid fruit with a bit of zip. 88/100

Famille Jaume Vinsobres Reference 2018 France
Some oak here. Coffee, spice and tar as well as sweet black fruits. A bit forced. 87/100

Le Cellier des Dauphins 2019 Vinsobres, France
This is from a very large producer. 65% Grenache, 35% Syrah, raised in foudres for 12 months. Sweetly fruited and peppery with some woody notes, with some cinnamon and vanilla notes as well as a hint of clove. It’s supple and fresh on the palate with nice sweet fruit but the woody notes (where did these come from?) force themselves on the flavour a bit too much. 86/100

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