Oenotourisme France - Tout savoir sur les vins du Rhône - Les Grappes

All you need to know about Rhône wines

Introduction to the region

The Rhone Valley is a great wine region that is continually gaining in popularity. With over 71,000 hectares of vineyards, it is the second largest appellation in France after Bordeaux. It is divided into two main areas. The Northern Rhône, with a temperate climate and steep hillsides to welcome the heat of the sun. And the Southern Rhône (South), with a Mediterranean climate supported by the Mistral wind. While the granite slopes of the North are combined with a continental climate. The rocky and sandy soils of the south benefit from warmer winters.

This division between the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône 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 redwines. 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 notable are the red varieties Grenache and Mourvèdre, combined with Syrah. To produce the GSM blend, so characteristic of the southern Rhône.

Some great wines often associated with dessert are also made in the Rhone Valley: Condrieu is the largest in the north andMuscat de Beaumes-de-Venise is the best known in thesouthern Rhone.

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. They also established the region's reputation by using the Rhône as a crossroadslinking all the wine routes of France.

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

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

The main appellations of the Rhône Valley

The Côtes du Rhône appellation

The Côtes du Rhône appellation wasintroduced in November 1937. Its objective was to offer an unavoidable title to good quality Rhône wines. And stemming from the less known and less prestigious wine areas of the valley.

The Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grapes form the core of most red Côtes du Rhône wines. Syrah contributes to the structure and spicy notes of these red wines, while Mourvèdre brings its dark, chocolatey and intense colour. The white wines are made from Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc and Viognier. The rosés, to be drunk young, are very influenced by the Cinsault.

The Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation

Introduced in 1966, it now applies to 16 villages. Côtes du Rhône Villages wines are widely recognized as being well-balanced and of good quality.

The white wines are generally made in a fresh, dry style and have a floral and spicy profile. The red wines of the appellation are moderately rich in style. With dark fruit flavours as well as the spicy contribution of the ever-present Syrah. The wines of the AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages are of very noticeable quality and also have a better ageing potential. They are elegant on the palate and known for their character and darker tannins.

The Saint-Joseph appellation

Formerly called "Vin de Mauves", it was very popular with the kings of France in the 14th century. Renamed "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 communes and stretches from Chavanay in the north to Châteaubourg in the south - a distance of about 50 km.

The red is recognisable by its dark berry scent 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, Hermitage winescome from the small vineyards overlooking the village of Hermitage. The appellation covers only 135 hectares and 3 communes in the Drôme department. This prestigious appellation produces robust wines with rich aromas of leather, coffee and red berries. And made exclusively from Syrah. These wines can be aged for up to 30 years.

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

Hermitage also produces straw wines. These wines are expensive because of their labor-intensive production. But they are also rich, full of flavor and long-lived!

The Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation

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

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

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

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