Saint-Péray is a small appellation, but mighty. There is a long and impressive history of winemaking in the region despite its size. It is located at the southernmost point of the Northern Rhône Valley within the south of France. In the 19th century, its wines were highly appreciated by royalty, including Queen Victoria and Tsars of Russia. Interestingly, Napoleon Bonaparte enjoyed his first glass of wine in the nearby town of Valence; his first glass of wine was a Saint-Péray!
Back in the 19th century, Saint-Péray was quite prestigious. Known for their traditional method sparkling wines, they were even more renowned than Champagne at the time. When Saint-Péray achieved its appellation status in 1936, it was one of the first nine AOCs established in France. The vineyards of Saint-Péray made up 55 hectares of land. It is a small appellation still to this day with approximately 90 hectares of vineyards. Wines from this region are quite rare with only 400,000 bottles of wine produced each year.
The wines of Saint-Péray are becoming more and more appreciated for their ripe, perfumed, and fruity aromas. The still white wines of this appellation now make up the majority of production. These wines are wonderful for anyone who loves a little extra body in their white wines.
Wine Production of Saint-Péray Wine
Saint-Péray is located in the south of France at the southernmost point of the Rhône. The vineyards are picturesque surrounded by oak and juniper trees. Rosemary also grows in abundance across the appellation. While the surrounding areas of Saint-Péray are in a warm continental climate, the appellation itself has a cool microclimate. Vineyards are located at elevations ranging from approximately 100 to 650 meter above sea level which exposes the grapes to a lot of sunlight supporting the growth and ripening process. Despite heavy winds in the appellation due to its approximation to the Alps, the grape varieties Marsanne and Roussanne thrive in these conditions. The soils across the appellation are variable, although primarily granite and limestone. The terroir offers a delicate minerality on the palate when enjoying the wines. As such, the expressions of Marsanne and Roussanne wines from Saint-Péray are quite unique and special.
Across 90 hectares of vineyards, winemakers produce approximately 400,000 bottles of wine each year. Nowadays, only 10% of wine production in the region is represented by sparkling wines – a significant shift from even just a few decades ago. The still white wines of Saint-Péray are seeing their moment in the spotlight and quite worthy of it.
The traditional method sparkling wines of Saint-Péray were once celebrated even more than those of Champagne! As with Champagne, the secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle with lees aging. Saint-Péray traditional method sparkling wines express both fruity aromas and those of toast and brioche, as you would expect.
While the region has mostly been known for its sparkling wines, it is increasingly building a reputation for its still white wines.
The still white wines can be enjoyed young or with some age. Generally, the still white wines are aged in barriques as well as in the bottle. As such, they are beautifully balanced and ready to enjoy by the time the bottle is in your hands. There are also unoaked wines from Saint-Péray. They are very fruity and best served as an aperitif.
Younger expressions of Saint-Péray wines are fruity with aromas of peach, nectarine, and apricots. Wines aged in oak also have notes of almonds and beeswax. These non-fruit characteristics are more pronounced and at the forefront for oaked Saint-Péray wines with some age. However, the wines are not particularly high in acidity, so it is not recommended they age for too long as they will lose the freshness they have on the palate. Drink these wines young for a fruity, complex expression!
Saint-Péray AOC wines are perfumed, fuller bodied white and sparkling wines. The primary permitted grape varieties are:
• Marsanne • Roussanne
The still white wines may be made up of one or both of these grape varieties. Aromas of peaches, nectarine, apricots, orange blossoms, almonds, and beeswax are commonly found in the still wines. Wines that are aged in oak tend to showcase more of the non-fruit characteristics, particularly if they have also been bottled-aged for quite some time. Unoaked, young wines express fruitier aromas.
The traditional method sparkling wines of Saint-Péray are made up of the same grape varieties. They age for at least 12 months on the lees before release. Aromas of apple, pear, ginger, and brioche are often expressed on the nose.
Buy Saint-Péray Wine from Hourlier Wines
We at Pierre Hourlier Wines are proud to partner with Pierre Gaillard to showcase their wonderful Saint-Péray still white wine. The Pierre Gaillard Family own 4 vineyards across Rhône, Roussillon, and the south of France. Their Saint-Péray wines are quite rare and in short supply. We are lucky to be able to include their wine in our offering.
This smooth and mineral Marsanne-Roussanne blend white wine is the perfect pairing for grilled or pan-fried fish. Beautifully fragrant aromas of pear, peach, orange blossom, butter, honey, and almonds are expressed on the nose. Try it with richer fish like salmon, trout, or sardines.
What do wines from the Saint-Péray taste like?
The still white wines of Saint-Péray express beautiful aromas of peaches, nectarines, apricots, orange blossoms, honey, ginger, almonds, and beeswax. Oak treatment and aging both influence these aromas. Younger wines express more fruity and floral notes, while those with some age express nutty, honeyed aromas.
Which food groups pair well with Saint-Péray wines?
Unoaked Saint-Péray wines are wonderful to enjoy as an aperitif or with lighter fare. They are smooth, fresh, and fruity. The wines with a little bit of oak and age are beautiful pairings for rich fish and seafood dishes, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and lobster. The complex nutty, honeyed qualities are complementary to these dishes.