What is Vacqueyras?

In the Southern Rhone region, north of Provence, Vacqueyras is the little brother of the very famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape (also known as CNDP), just up the road in the next town. If Provence Rosé is summer’s lunchtime pour, then Vacqueyras is what you will want to drink in the winter evening.

What is Vacqueyras?

A question that pops up when cruising a wine list in pursuit of something different and interesting. In a nutshell, Vacqueyras is a French wine region producing red, white and rosé. It was part of the Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation in the 50s and acquired its appellation in 1990, Vacqueyras was born!Vacqueyras

What is inside a Vacqueyras wine?

In Vacqueyras, 18 types of grapes are allowed to be grown, including red grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan; white varietals like Maranne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier. 94% of total production is red wine, and Grenache is the most important varietal in the region. The proportion of Grenache Noir grape varieties in the Vacqueyras appellation must be greater than or equal to 50% according to the AOC regulation.

Vacqueyras Grenache Noir

Grenache Noir from Vacqueyras

What can you expect from a Vacqueyras wine?

Here’s a quick guide to help you understand the nuances of Vacqueyras wines.

Expect a deep and rich red colour in the glass, with a hint of purple rim. 

Aroma Profile
On the nose, Vacqueyras wines often present a delightful bouquet of red and black fruits, such as cherries, blackberries, and plums. As the wine matures, it may develop notes of leather, spice, meaty and earthy undertones. Like a lot of classic Southern Rhone wines, you will find a rustic herbal touch.

Palate Experience
These wines are known for their full-bodied richness, balanced by a firm acidity and tannins. The dominant flavours often mirror the aromas, with added layers of pepper, herbs, and sometimes liquorice. Bottle ageing usually brings out the spiced nuances, together with leather and game, and even light smoky notes. 

Texture and Finish
Matured Vacqueyras wines typically have a velvety texture, thanks to their ageing potential. The finish is often long, framed with a noticeable tannin structure. Expect robust, strong and rich wines with rustic characters.

Depending on the blend and ageing process, the style of Vacqueyras can vary. For those who prefer a more fruit-forward wine, opt for a Granache-dominated wine with around 3-5 years of age. Wines with a higher percentage of Mourvèdre offer a more robust tannin structure and a smoky and meaty palate. Thanks to the thick skin characteristics of some of the grape varietals, such as Syrah and Mourvèdre, Vacqueyras wines have impeccable ageing potential, and some can be aged up to decades.

What makes Vacqueyras special – 5 facts of this AOC

The history

  1. The Provençale name “Vacqueyras” comes from the Latin “Valléa Quadreria” which means “valley of stones”.
  2. While the appellation was first formed in 1990, Vacqueyras is by no means a new region: taxes levied on the grape and wine harvests are mentioned in documents from 1448!

In the vineyard

  1. The Vacqueyras region stretches along the river Ouvèze and the undulating hills. Vineyards are situated at an elevation of 100 to 400 meters above sea level. The altitude and the river contribute to cooling the air, vines, and grapes during the night. This creates a temperature difference in the region which enables the grapes to ripen fully but not over-ripped!
  2. The typical soils of Vacqueyras are sandy and stony with some clay-limestone, which gives the wine a rich character and promotes good drainage. Other types of soil in the region include pebbles, fine sands, clay, marl, saffron, sandstone, gravel, and fragments of white limestone. The stones in the vineyards absorb heat during the day and release it at night, acting like a battery. This is particularly important during cold nights, similar to the situation in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
  3. Vacqueyras has a maximum allowed yield of 36 hectolitres per hectare (one of the lowest yields in France). Keeping these low yields maintains concentration and quality, strengthens the vines and reduces the chance of diluted, thin wine-style.

In the Cellar

  1. According to the AOC rules, all Vacqueyras red wines must be made with at least 50% Grenache, the rest must be made up of at least 20% Syrah and Mourvèdre. In addition, winemakers can choose to use other local varieties in any chosen percentage to make up the total blend.
  2. Many people don’t know the region also makes white wines. A rare, medium-bodied, jazzy wine to pop out at parties and surprise your guests. How rare? Quite rare indeed – only 4% of wine produced here is white so you don’t often see it on the shelves of a wine shop.

Vacqueyras is an excellent wine that goes well with herb-rich dishes, red meat, hearty stews, and steak, it can also be a great BBQ wine. This gem of the Southern Rhône region is a testament to the harmonious blend of history, nature, and craftsmanship. From its ancient Roman winemaking roots to its modern-day recognition as a premium wine-producing region, Vacqueyras consistently showcases the depth and complexity of its wines.