With temperatures below normal across France this past weekend and the northern half of the country under snow storm warnings, what better way to stay warm than visit a wine fair? The 85th annual Marché aux Vins de Côte-Rôtie in Ampuis (January 18-21, 2013) was packed with mostly portly white Frenchmen, running the gamut from wine professionals slurping and spiting to good time Joes throwing a few back with vieux amis.
Côte-Rotie is a small appellation in the northern Rhône valley consisting of a section of steep, south facing hills along the Rhône river, hence the name Côte-Rotie, roasted hillside. The region’s grape is Syrah which is sometimes co-fermented with up to 20%of the white grape Voignier. This enhances the wine’s characteristic floral fragrance.
For 8 Euros the fair offers the opportunity to taste and buy wines from 60 local makers of Côte-Rotie and the neighboring appellations of St. Joseph, Hermitage, and Condrieu, a white wine made from 100% Voignier. While a serious affair, the event can be entertaining for any level of wine enthusiast allowing you to experience firsthand a slice of French culture.
Outside the main entrance food purveyors quench appetites and give a respite from the dizzying quantity of wines.
Upcoming regional wine fairs include:
February 22-25, 2013 – 29th annual Salon des Vins Côte du Rhône Septentrionales (northern)- Tain l’Hermitage, Espace Rochegude – about 50 kilometers south of Ampius.
March 22-25, 2013 – 11th Salon Savim Printemps – Marseille
Update – For a detailed report of the 2013 Tain l’Hermitage Salon click here.