Californian wine giant E&J Gallo are set to launch a second French wine destined exclusively for the US market.

Pont d’Avignon, named after the famous half-bridge over the river Rhône, is Gallo’s second Gallic offering after Red Bicyclette, the Languedoc wine brand launched in the US by Gallo last year.

The new wine will be produced by Côtes du Rhône négociant La Compagnie Rhodanienne.

Both the Compagnie Rhodanienne and the Sieur d’Arques, which makes Red Bicyclette, cover a large base of winegrowers and co-operatives in their respective regions. La Compagnie Rhodanienne itself produces 18m bottles a year.

Joe Gallo, head of the US giant, said that Pont d’Avignon could symbolise the link between the old and new worlds. La Compagnie Rhodanienne’s boss, Jean Berteau, agreed.

‘It links the classicism of the French appellations with the tastes of the new world,’ he said.

The Rhône’s general winemakers’ union welcomed the deal, saying it was a ‘Trojan Horse’ that could help Côtes du Rhône wines break into the US market.

Independent winemakers in the region also praised the collaboration.

‘Côtes du Rhône négociants were less savvy than their Bordeaux conterparts, namely in conquering the American market. They are now making up for lost time. If this deal works, we will all be winners,’ winemaker André Chinieu told Agence France Presse.

Written by Oliver Styles, and agencies