Côte du Rhône

The Rhône is a region in South East France, along the Rhône river. The majority of the wines are red blends, based on Grenache and Syrah, though there are also great white wines made of Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. The Rhône region is split into the Southern and Northern Rhône — with distinct differences between the two areas.

Wine Folly map of the Rhône

The Northern Rhône contains incredibly steep southern-facing slopes. The north is the birthplace of Syrah and considered the epitome of French Syrah. The appellations in the Northern Rhône include:

  • Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage, known for Syrah-forward blends. Hermitage should not be confused with the South African “Hermitage,” which is actually Cinsault
  • Côte Rôtie, home to some of the steepest vineyards in France, an excellent place for Syrah
  • Condrieu, known for white wine produced with 100% Viognier. Château Grillet, home of some of the most exclusive Viognier in the wold, is located within Condrieu
  • St. Joseph, the largest of the Northern appellations
  • Cornas, Saint-Péray, Diois

In the Southern Rhône, Grenache dominates the wines with blends that also can contain Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Carignan, as well as whites of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne. The Southern Rhône is known for its more mediterranean climate — long summers and mild winders — and famous “Mistral Wind,” an incredibly cold and strong gust that blows off the sea. The appellations of the Southern Rhône include:

  • Côte du Rhône, responsible for two thirds of the total Rhône production and known for full-bodied Grenache blends
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a famous, and famously expensive, region with Grenache-forward blends. Part of fame comes from the soil being dominated by “Galets,” large round rocks that provide ample drainage in the vineyards
  • Gigondas a hot region with early, full wines
  • Vacqueryras, a region with an amazing name, Latin for “Valley of the Rocks, and famous for Grenache production
  • Lirac and Tavel two regions with amazing rosès
  • Vinsobres, Beaumes de Venise, Rasteau, Costières de Nimes, Tricistan/ Grignan-les-Adhémar, Côte du Luberon, Côte de Ventoux, Côte de Vivarais

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