Cotes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel is an appellation for red wines from the parish of Tautavel in the Roussillon wine region in southern France. As a source of higher-quality wines, the village has earned the right to append its name to the existing Cotes du Roussillon Villages title, as have the parishes of Caramany, Latour de France and Lesquerde.
The Cotes du Roussillon Villages appellation covers an area in the hillier northern third of Roussillon, near Fitou. It represents wines that are a step up in quality from the more generic Cotes du Roussillon appellation.
Tautavel is the most easterly of the four named villages, located in the final outcrop of granitic hills before the coastal plains slope gently away into the Mediterranean. It was promoted in 1997 (just after Lesquerde), making it the most recently included of the group. It is also situated within the eligibility zone to make the sweet wines of the Rivesaltes appellation.
Due to their particular location, the soils around Tautavel have a high proportion of granite and quartz. Granite has been identified as a valuable element of many French terroirs; it is an efficient heat retainer, provides rapid drainage and is of low fertility, forcing vines to form deep, strong root systems. The local topography shelters the area around Tautavel from wind, and is also responsible for the low rainfall. The climate here is definitively Mediterranean, but due to the topography and slightly increased altitude (650ft/200m), it is very slightly cooler and drier than the coastal areas just to the east.
Carignan, Grenache and Syrah are the principal grape varieties used to produce Cotes du Roussillon Villages Tautavel wines. Carignan, which historically made up the majority component, was vinified by carbonic maceration in order to accentuate fruitier flavors in the wines, rather than its tannic, rustic character. Modern producers now use standard fermentation methods and increasing quantities of Syrah and Grenache, to bring greater complexity to the wines and make them more appealing to international consumers.