The Saint-Chinian AOC title was created in 1982, uniquely for red and rosé wines. In 2005, white wines were introduced to the appellation, made from Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Roussanne.
Carbonically macerated Carignan used to characterise Saint-Chinian's output but it is gradually being replaced by more complex wines produced from Syrah, Grenache and Lladoner Pelut. As well, the quantity of white wine is increasing. The title also covers Saint-Chinian's fresh, dry rosé wines, made from many combinations of the permitted red and white varieties.
The appellation is located at the southern end of the Massif Central (the area of low mountains in the centre of southern France) and to the north of the coastal plains that drop gradually towards the sea. The terrain around the town of Saint-Chinian is of varying altitudes, from 325 to 650ft (100 to 200m). It is made up of lighter, looser schist soils in the higher areas and clay and limestone dominated soils lower down. As is often the case, the most respected wines are those made from vines grown at higher altitudes and with the superior drainage of loose soils.
The climate here is Mediterranean – Saint-Chinian being only 20 miles (33km) from the southern French coast – and the vineyards universally benefit from long, hot summers and relatively mild winters.
Saint-Chinian Berlou and Saint-Chinian Roquebrun are two parishes in the north which have long been recognised as sources of higher-quality wines. They were awarded their own appellations in 2005.
Original price £14.15Current price £12.02
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