The vineyards of Côtes d’Auvergne
The Côtes d’Auvergne wine is produced exclusively in the Puy-de-Dôme department of France, on the hillsides bordering the Limagne plain. The boundaries of the vineyard extend over sixty kilometers from just north of the city of Clermont-Ferrand to south of the city of Issoire. On November 16, 2010, the Côtes d’Auvergne wine was awarded the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée label (AOC), certifying the quality of the regional wine.
- The Côtes d’Auvergne appellation
Since 1977, the generic appellation “Cotes d’Auvergne” can be followed by one of the five local appellations, presented here from north to south.
- Madargue – Châteaygay – Chanturgue – Corent – Boudes
On November 16, 2010, the Côtes d’Auvergne wine obtained the AOC label, protecting the appellation, which is now recognized at both the national and European level.
Red varietals cover 90% of the vineyard surface, the majority being of the gamay varietal.
The old vines are planted with gamay d’Auvergne, a varietal often composed of large winged clusters. Over the last thirty years, the plantations have mostly been a “beaujolais” gamay, from the Val de Loire department. This varietal is known for its attractive phenological characteristics such as its light weight and early harvest.
Pinot noir, which made up a large percentage of the vineyard several centuries ago, today accounts for around 20% of the vines.
Chardonnay, a recent addition to the vineyard, is well adapted to our land and is the only varietal authorized for use in the white wines of the Côtes d’Auvergne appellation.
The red wines are mostly made from the gamay varietal in combination with pinot noir. There are two different types of red wines: those meant to be enjoyed young, which are fresh, fruity, and light; and those to be left to age, which are more structured, rich, powerful, and full of tannins.
The rosé wines are also mainly of the gamay varietal. The direct pressing of the grapes results in a mild pink-salmon color with fruity and floral aromas full of finesse. These wines are fresh, round and fruity. These pleasant wines are a specialty from the heart of the vineyard, the Corent area, and are particularly well adapted for enjoying in the summer or with friends.
The white wines made from the chardonnay varietal also have two different facets. The dry white wines are firstly developed in tanks and quickly bottled, leaving them with great finesse and minerality. The fruity, rich white wines are fermented at length in barrels on wine dregs similar to their Bourguignon counterparts.
The vine from north to south
The vineyard in the Puy-de-Dôme department covers over 800 hectares spread over 53 towns.
Four hundred hectares belong to professionals, with 350 hectares having the AOC label and 50 hectares of vin de pays.
The vineyard is divided into five appellations on a traditional north to south layout, covering an area 70 km wide and 30 km long.
Distribution of the appellations
Five appellations, from north to south:
- Madargue: the northernmost appellation, near Riom and Châtelguyon, was longtime considered the “elite core” of the vineyard (Cf. L. Levadoux).
- Châteaugay: ten kilometers north of Clermont-Ferrand, this appellation is found in a charming city of the same name. This large vineyard accounts for 37% of the production of Côtes d’Auvergne.
- Chanturgue: the smallest and most unique appellation, is surrounded by the fast growing city of Clermont-Ferrand.
- Corent: twenty kilometers south of Clermont-Ferrand, this appellation is known for its light and pleasant rosé wine.
- Boudes: Near the city of Issoire, this southernmost appellation has a drier climate and a landscape with significant slopes.
A volcanic legacy
The wines of the Puy-de-Dôme benefit from the quality of the soil linked to the ancient volcanic activity of the Châine des Puys mountain range. To the east of the mountain range, the impact on the land can be seen in a mosaic of land formations, giving the Auvergne vineyard a remarkable geological uniqueness.
Volcanic formations and the fertile Limagne plain
Basalt lava flows from the Chaîne des Puys forged the specificity of the landscapes and brings a defined character to the wines of this volcanic soil. The volcanoes and hills of the region, as well as the presence of peperite sedimentary rock and others (arkose, pozzolana) bring a specificity to our wines.
At the center of the vineyard, the Limagne plain is a rift valley. From west to east the plain contains limestone, volcanic and sandy hills. It is the richest region of the vineyard, with an ancient deposit of alluvium and « black earth ». This foundation, largely composed of clay and limestone, has differentiated layers of rocks testifying to early geological activities.
A vineyard of géological diversity
The five appellations of the Puy-de-Dôme department are in an inverted relief landscape. This type of land owes its specificity to the basalt flows that have protected the original clay and limestone base. The areas not covered by the basalt were uncovered by the process of erosion and can now be seen on the slopes in the region. (see diagram below).
This type of landscape is noticeable in Chanturgue, Châteaugay and Boudes, with slopes of clay-marl and limestone. Madargue stands out with a more siliceous soil. Finally, the soil of Corent and Boudes are constituted of calcareous sedimentary deposits, but also clay marl and sand. Corent, situated on a volcano, has a greater variety of rocks (pépérites, pozzolana) due to its geological location.
An ideal climate
Rainfall is limited by the Châine des Puys mountain range that serves as a filter of ocean winds and humidity. The prevailing wind from the Atlantic Ocean is driven over the Puys and down the eastern side after the wind has been stripped of its water vapor (Foehn effect). The precipitation in the vineyard similar to the south of France, with a maximum of 550 mm per year. While a relatively small amount, the rainfall is favorable to wine growing, as the vines require little water. Temperatures are high in the summer with cool nights, which help the proper ripening of the vine.
The vineyard benefits from a cumulative average sunshine of almost 1900 hours per year, which, for comparison is close to that of the Bordeaux region. The southern area of the department, including Boudes has an even drier and sunnier climate.