Wines of the Rhône
The Rhone is ranked as the second wine region of France. It is characterized by its vast expanse from the center of France, south of Lyon to the Mediterranean Sea. The region includes many legendary appellations that are named after the communes along the river. In this guide we will look at the most famous appellations in this region as well as its best wineries and wine producers.
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The Rhône wine region, the second largest appellation in France
The Rhone Valley is distinguished by its vastness, the great diversity of its terroirs, its many planted grape varieties and its abundant wine styles. Viticulture in this region dates back over 2000 years. In fact, ruins of vineyard plantations have been found here since the 4th century BC. Today, the annual production of this great wine region reaches more than 33 million cases of wine per vintage. 6,000 wineries and vineyards participate in this production volume. Its 79,000 ha of cultivated vineyards produce more than 30 different appellations d'origine contrôlée (AOC) in a total of 1317 communes. These vintages and wines are made from 27 unique grape varieties. The red wine is the most important in the Rhone Valley. Note that the vineyards of the Rhone Valley are divided into 2 unequal sub-regions:
-The northern region which stretches between Vienne and Valence. The vineyards are perched on the steep sides of the valleys and on the right and left banks of the Rhone. This part produces prestigious wines such as Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Côte-Rôtie, Saint-Péray etc. Its production capacity is relatively low, 3% of the total valley. It produces fine and spicy red wines from the Syrah grape variety and dense and full-bodied whites from the Marsanne and Roussanne grape varieties. The vast majority of wines are sold by appellation. The category of "vins de pays" is also used in this region.
-The southern part of the region between the slopes of Vivarais and Avignon is characterized by its more important production of simple wines such as Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Pierrevert, Cairanne etc. but also includes the famous appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape. These vineyards also produce the Côte du Rhône appellation which is tending to disappear in the northern region.
Our selection of Rhône wine appellations
The "appellation contrôlée" system was created in Châteauneuf-du-Pape in 1933. It aims to optimize the quality of wines and to certify their origin. AOCs must meet the specifications established at the time. This contains technical constraints in terms of area of cultivation, variety of vine plants, method of cultivation, minimum alcoholic degree, harvest period. Since then, obtaining the AOC is linked to the quality of the wine and gives an indication of the contents of a bottle.
-The AOC Châteauneuf du Pape covers 3,231 ha and includes more than 320 winegrowers. 250 of them produce and bottle their own wines while the rest sell their products to merchants or cooperatives. This wine region produces great red wines full of character. They are available in a wide range of styles from opulent, full-bodied and sexy wines to refined, fresh and elegant wines. This type of long-keeping wine is perfect for tasting with beef, game, duck, or sausage, seafood dishes etc.
-The AOC Cornas applies to the 110 ha vineyards located south of Saint-Joseph and north of Saint-Péray. They produce only red wines from the Syrah grape. These wines are rich, powerful with soft and ripe tannins and they have a good aging capacity. They are perfect for tasting with starters like lamb kebabs or dishes like leg of lamb, grilled beef...
-Côtes du Rhône: this AOC appellation is one of the most popular in France, although it is not among the most prestigious. It is a vast agricultural region covering more than 31,000 ha of vineyards. These are red, fruity, spicy wines that do not need to be aged, although some will evolve with a few years of cellaring. This type of wine goes easily with any dish such as appetizers, starters, meat, fish or cheese dishes. As for the white wines, they are fat, round, aromatic, and not very acidic. They go perfectly with asparagus, white pudding, shrimps, seafood, etc.
-Côte rôtie: this is the prestigious red wine appellation produced by the parishes of Ampuis, Saint-Cyr-sur-le-Rhône and Tupin-et-Semons. This small estate covers only 119 ha of vineyards with very steep hillsides rising from the banks of the Rhône to more than 300 m in altitude. The appellation allows only two grape varieties: Syrah and Voignier. These highly sought after wines are not very pleasant to drink young. They are characterized by complex, rich aromas and concentrated flavors that turn into sensual, silky and exotic textures with time. The best wines can age for 3 or 4 decades or more.
-Hermitage: this "appellation d'origine contrôlée" designates the smallest wine region in the Rhône Valley with its 130 ha of planted vines. It includes the red grape variety Syrah and two white grape varieties, marsanne and rousanne. The vineyard belongs to 6 merchants, one cooperative and 21 private cellars. The wines are red, full-bodied, rich and some of them come from different climates. They improve after 15 to 20 years of aging. The white wines reveal floral notes, roasted nuts and vanilla. They can be kept for up to several decades.
-Saint-Joseph: This AOC appellation covers more than 1200 ha of vineyards and nearly 115 active wine growers spread over 26 communes. The wines are produced from the red Syrah grape variety and two white grape varieties, Marsanne and Rousanne. The reds are elegant, powerful or feminine, affordable and drinkable young. Their fine or powerful character makes them perfect to accompany game, duck, sausage, red meat or other oriental dishes. The whites have a subtle, elegant nose with floral notes that take on more developed characteristics with age.
-Vacqueyras: this appellation is produced in the Vaucluse department over an area of 14 km of vineyards. The terroir is located around the parish of Vacqueyras and Sarrians. The red grape varieties are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. The white wines are made from Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc and Roussanne. This AOC is characterized by red wines of various characters balanced and fine or full and fat in mouth. They have floral notes, red fruit notes and undergrowth aromas. These wines are easy to pair with dishes such as roast pigeon, beef bourguignon, simmered lamb.
-Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: the IGP Vaucluse is produced in the south of the Rhone valley. They are wines of assembly of type of vines of which the grenache, the syrah, the marselan, the merlot or monocuvés. They are aromatic wines of a beautiful complexity, rich, greedy, supple and fresh at the same time. They go perfectly with aperitif, poultry and fish.
The main producers of Rhône wines
The Rhone Valley produces many wines under various AOC appellations from north to south including the sublime Hermitage wines, the côte rôtie or the generous wines of Châteauneuf-le-Pape. Here are the winegrowers who are essential to the production of these wines.
-Emmanuel Reynaud: This winemaker is the fourth generation of Reynaud winemakers. He replaced his father at Château de Tours in 1997 and his uncle Jacques Reynaud at Château Rayas. His lightly colored wines do not disappoint in terms of their aromatic and taste profile and reveal their sublime character with 10 or 15 years of bottle age.
-Jean-Louis Chave: the Chave family has been producing Saint-Joseph wines since 1481. Jean-Louis Chave is the 16th generation to manage the prestigious Hermitage appellation. His wines express both power and finesse.
-Henri Bonneau: this 12th generation winemaker is a true legend of Châteauneuf-le-Pape. He owns 6.5 ha of vines spread over 13 different parcels in this appellation. They are very expressive wines with a good aromatic quality.
-Gentaz-Dervieux: this domain was also a real legend in Côte rôtie. Today, it no longer exists because its vines were integrated into the René Rostaing estate in the 90s. But its wines are now very rare and sought after.
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Rhone Valley Châteauneuf du PapeBeaucastel CDP Rouge Hommage a J Perrin 1994 magnum€600.00 Excl. Taxstock: 1
Rhone Valley Châteauneuf du Pape Original Wooden Case of 1Beaucastel CDP Rouge Hommage a J Perrin 2013 Magnum€520.00 Excl. Taxstock: 5
PromotionRhone Valley Châteauneuf du Pape Original Wooden Case of 1Beaucastel CDP Rouge Hommage a J Perrin 2014 MagnumSpecial Price €529.00 Excl. Tax Regular Price €550.00 Excl. Taxstock: 3
PromotionRhone Valley Châteauneuf du Pape Original Wooden Case of 1Beaucastel CDP Rouge Hommage a J Perrin 2015 magnumSpecial Price €519.00 Excl. Tax Regular Price €550.00 Excl. Taxstock: 7
PromotionRhone Valley Châteauneuf du PapeCDP Ogier Clos de Oratoire Rouge 2018 Bouteille (75cl)Special Price €29.00 Excl. Tax Regular Price €32.00 Excl. Taxstock: 2
PromotionRhone Valley Châteauneuf du PapeCDP Ogier Clos de Oratoire Rouge 2018 Magnum (150cl)Special Price €59.00 Excl. Tax Regular Price €65.00 Excl. Taxstock: 32