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Rhône Valley

About Rhône Valley

Much larger in scale than Burgundy is the Rhône Valley wine region. The Rhône Valley in France is one of the larger quality-wine-producing regions in the world, allowing plantings of 22 different grape varieties. From the powerful highs of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, through the dense elegance of the Syrah-based wines from appellations like Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage, this is predominantly red-wine country. The continental climate and the steep, granitic and schistose slopes of the Northern Rhône shape the Syrah-dominant reds of the prestigious Hermitage AOP and Côte-Rôtie AOP. These meaty, spicy and complex wines are some of the highest priced and top rated Rhône-style red blend ratings. And while red production rules here, the white wines of the region deserve mention too: The Condrieu AOP offers beautiful wines based on the floral and exotic Viognier grape, while the Marsanne and Roussanne varieties are the force behind the ageworthy Hermitage blanc. In the Southern Rhône, no longer are there steep hillsides and a continental climate. Instead, the land becomes quite flat and the climate far more Mediterranean. Unlike the Northern Rhône where Syrah is the dominant varietal, Grenache plays the star role in the Southern Rhône red blends, with Syrah and Mourvèdre playing supporting roles. The “GSM” blends from the south span the spectrum of ripe and jammy to rustic and earthy, with the wines of Châteauneuf du Pape representing the best examples. Rich and generous, these wines appeal to wine drinkers used to California reds. And, just like Bordeaux, there is also great value to be found in this region: wines labelled Côtes du Rhône. If they have a village name attached (Rasteau and Seguret are among the best), they will be that much better even if more expensive.