Some 20 miles to the east of the Rhône river is the picturesque Drôme Valley, where the Drôme river flows down from the Alps. This marks the halfway point in the Rhône Valley and the boundary between the Northern wines and the Southern. It is also the marker between the alpine country to the north and the Midi and Provence areas of the south.
Clairette de Die is a small appellation located in the Drôme that once produced a still white wine made entirely from the Clairette grape, but in the 1920s began producing sparkling wines and now only produces sparklers made from a blend of Clairette and Muscat grapes in no set proportions.
These wines are produced from a unique method called the Traditional or Méthode Dioise Ancestrale, not to be confused with the Traditional Method of Champagne fame. The process involves rapidly cooling the must of the grapes just after crush, then bottling the must before the initial fermentation thus allowing the wine to ferment very slowly over a period of nine months during which the CO2 is trapped within the bottle.
The wines are full and fruity, and are almost always of a demi-sec or higher level of residual sugar. The limestone and clay soil and higher elevations provide a good environment for the Clairette and Muscat, thus allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and retain high levels of natural acidity when ripening.
Since the 1960s a Brut version made entirely from Clairette has been produced, now under the AC Crémant de Die. Coteaux de Die refers to the small amounts of still wine made from Clairette, while Châtillon-en-Diois is another small appellation to the southeast that produces small amounts of red and rosé wine from Gamay, Pinot Noir and Syrah, and white from the Burgundy varietals Aligoté and Chardonnay.
France → Rhône → Southern Rhône