Rhône From North to South
The most popular Rhône beauties come from the northern regions, even though they produce only a fraction of the wines coming out of the Rhône overall. Up north, it’s all about Syrah… and the delicious Viogniers coming from Condrieu. Climate is moderate, southern Continental, thanks to the brutal Mistral that blows its way down the valley from the northern Alps.
Côte-Rôtie: The roasted hillside. Great reputation for elegant Syrahs, blended with up to 20% Viognier.
Condrieu: Offers the lovliest Viogniers. The region includes the tiny Chateau-Grillet, which ages their Viogniers in oak.
St. Joseph: Both red and white production here, with white Marsanne-Rousanne blends finding many fans. The only red allowed is Syrah, with up to 10% white grapes added.
Hermitage: Both the reds and whites have been historically appreciated by the English as “great wines of the world”. Reds are again all about Syrah with up to 15% white grapes permitted. Very full bodied and capable of great aging development, up to 50 years. In youth, these “manly” reds are as tannic and firm as any young Bordeaux wines waiting to blossom. About 20% of production is for whites, Rousannes and Marsanne-Rousanne blends.
Crozes-Hermitage: This bigger area surrounds the smaller Hermitage. Lighter in style and generally not as appreciated as the Hermitage offerings.
Cornas and St. Peray: Some wine critics suggest that Cornas wines are as high in quality as Hermitage but under appreciated… rich full bodied Syrahs here again. St. Pernay is known for rich methode champagnois sparkling wines from Marsanne grapes.
Clairiette De-Die and Chatillon-En-Diois: These two areas at the highest vineyard elevation in France. Clairiette De-Die is known for a sparkling wine made from Muscat and Clairette, and Chatillon-En-Diois produces whites from Aligote and Chard, and reds and roses from Gamay, Pinot Noir and Syrah. Unusual grapes for this part of France.
Southern Rhone in next post (part 3).