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Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

Presentation of the region

The Rhone Valley is a large wine-growing region that is continually gaining in popularity. With more than 71,000 hectares of vines, it is the second largest appellation in France after Bordeaux. It is divided into two main areas. The Rhône-septentrional (North), with a temperate climate and very steep slopes to welcome the warmth of the sun. And the southern Rhône (South), with a Mediterranean climate supported by the breath of the Mistral. While the northern granite slopes are combined with a continental climate. The rocky and sandy soils of the south enjoy warmer winters.

This division between the Rhône-Nord and the Rhône-Sud is reflected not only in the geography, climate and grape varieties found. But also in the quality and quantity of wines produced. The northern part of the Rhône focuses almost entirely on Syrah for red wines. As well as Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne for the whites. The southern part of the Rhône, on the other hand, uses a much longer list of varieties. Among the most remarkable are the red varieties Grenache and Mourvèdre, combined with Syrah. In order to produce the GSM mixture, so characteristic of the southern Rhône.

Some great wines often associated with a dessert are also made in the Rhone Valley. Condrieu is the largest in the North and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise is the best known in the Southern Rhône.

Colombo Estate

The main grape varieties of the Rhone Valley

Viticulture arrived in the south of France with the Greeks in the 4th century BC. But it was the Romans who really established the vineyards. As well as the reputation of the region by using the Rhône as a crossroads linking all the French wine routes.

It is in this region and at this time that Syrah was born. Full-bodied, tasty and elegant, it has reached its peak of expression thanks to the granitic soils of the northern Rhône. As well as the heat of the sun on the southern slopes. Rich in antioxidants, this grape variety is at the origin of the dark colour of Rhône red wines. And is full of dark fruit flavours including sweet blueberry and salty black olive.

While Syrah reigns supreme in the north. Grenache remains the king of the south and is the foundation of the region's popular blends. You will also find Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette, Bourboulenc and other minor varieties.

The main appellations of the Rhône Valley

The Côtes du Rhône appellation

the Côtes du Rhône appellation was introduced in November 1937. Its objective was to offer an essential title to Rhône wines of good quality. And from the valley's lesser-known and less prestigious wine-growing areas.

The Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grape varieties form the heart of most of the red Côtes du Rhône. Syrah contributes to the structure and spicy notes of these red wines, while Mourvèdre brings its dark, chocolate and intense colour notes. On the white side, you will find the Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Viognier varieties. Rosés, to be consumed young, are very influenced by Cinsault.

The Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation

Introduced in 1966, it now applies to 16 villages. The wines of Côtes du Rhône Villages are widely recognized as wines that offer good balance and quality.

White wines are generally produced in a fresh and dry style and have both a floral and spicy profile. The red wines of the appellation are moderately rich in style. With dark fruit flavours and the spicy addition of Syrah, always omnipresent. The wines of the AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages are wines of high quality and also have a better ageing potential. They are elegant on the palate and are known for their character and darker tannins.

The Saint-Joseph appellation

Formerly called "Vin de Mauves", it was highly appreciated by the kings of France in the 14th century. Renamed "le Saint-Joseph" in the 18th century, it is the largest appellation in the region in terms of geographical coverage. It now covers more than 26 municipalities and extends from Chavanay in the north to Châteaubourg in the south - a distance of about 50 km.

The red is recognizable by its dark berry fragrance and liquorice notes. And the white is fresh with subtle notes of fruit and flowers. Ideal for your everyday meals, these wines are eminently drinkable and can be enjoyed young.

The Hermitage appellation:

Famous throughout the world, the wines of the Hermitage come from the small vineyards overlooking the village of the same name. The appellation extends over only 135 hectares and 3 communes in the Drôme department. This prestigious appellation produces robust wines with aromas rich in leather, coffee and red berries. And made exclusively from Syrah. These wines, which can age for up to 30 years.

The reds are colourful and have a great aromatic richness (ripe fruit, spices, undergrowth). And the white wines, rarer to find, are full of honeysuckle, tropical fruit and earthy minerals.

Hermitage also produces straw wines. These wines are expensive because of their labour-intensive production. But are also rich, full of flavour and long life!

The Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation

The most famous AOC in the Rhône Valley is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The vineyards contain 14 varieties of grape varieties, located at four levels of altitude that rise from the Rhône River.

The soils are varied and mainly consist of old river beds of various ages; the archetypal vineyard of Châteauneuf is dotted with large pebbles whose soft and rounded shape contrasts directly with the twisted and rough vine trunks.

This exceptional terroir has thus given birth to red wines that are among the most complex and powerful. Recognizable by their intense garnet colour, they reveal an aromatic palette composed of ripe fruits, blackcurrants, blackberries, spices and roasting. The whites, with their golden colour, have aromas of honeysuckle and stone fruit. They represent only 6% of the production. But they are worth tasting and will remind you of the warm climate of the south!

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