Les Vignes de l'Arque is situated in the relatively undiscovered Gard region, close to the historical town of Uzès and the amazing Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard. The estate is named after the 9th century chateau, l'Arque de Baron, the ruins of which can still be seen atop the nearby hill (and is represented on all the wine labels). The foothills of the Çevennes are a few miles to the west, and the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhône lie to the east.Depending on which wine information resource or map one refers to, Duché d'Uzès falls within either (or both) Languedoc-Roussillon or Rhône. Historically and geographically, it is Languedoc-Roussillon, but for administrative purposes (due to the close proximity of the ruling body) it is now designated as Rhône. Indeed, the wines - especially the reds - are perhaps more Rhône in style than Languedoc, although they possess a freshness more typical of the latter. Until recently, the region had no AOP, so all of the wines were designated as IGP (formerly Vins de Pays). Thankfully, that has now changed, with the richly-deserved introduction in 2013 of the Duché d'Uzès AOP.
The wines of Les Vignes de l'Arque punch well above their weight and are characterised by lovely concentration and purity of fruit. Furthermore, coming from what can best be described as a vinous backwater, they provide brilliant value for money. The estate has over 70 hectares under vine and was created by the Pierre Fabre and Luc Rouveyrolles in 1994, before which the grapes had been sent to the local co-operative. In recent years, the wines have been made by Mr. Fabre's sons, Patrick and Arnaud, under whose control they have just got better and better. Furthermore, the estate is organic, with full organic certification now granted for all of the red wines and some of the rosé.
If you are looking for alternatives to the better-known - and hence more expensive - wines of the nearby southern Rhône valley, the quality/price ratio that these wines offer will not disappoint. And year after year, Les Vignes de l'Arque seem to have the knack of fashioning some truly outstanding wines. They certainly deserve more recognition, but meanwhile, they remain our little secret!