Region Of The Week: Rhône Valley

A region that has a long winemaking history dating back to the Roman Empire, the Rhône Valley is one of the most prominent areas for red wine. Producing over 100 million gallons of wine annually, the Rhône Valley lies along the Rhône river for 150 miles, which is made up of 24+ appellations. Conveniently grouped, the appellations are separated by Northern Rhône Valley and Southern Rhône Valley, producing varietals like Syrah, a dominant grape in Northern Rhône, Grenache, Southern Rhône’s more prominent grape, Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Roussanne. 

Rhone Valley Wine Region Map From The Greene Grape

Northern Rhône Valley

With its best vineyards located on steep, terraced hillsides that rise sharply from the river valley below, Northern Rhône Valley produces less wine than the appellations to the South. Northern Rhône’s climate is typically continental, although there are occasional drastic seasonal changes, which makes for a short growing season. Here, all reds are made from Syrah, but some appellations allow small amounts of white varietals. 

Six of the most well-known appellations within Northern Rhône are: Hermitage AOC, considered the region’s premier appellation producing both red and white wines; Crozes-Hermitage AOC, Northern Rhône’s largest appellation producing both reds and whites; Côte-Rôtie AOC, which only produces red wines but the Syrah can be co-fermented with small amounts of Viognier; Saint-Joseph AOC, which is deemed to be a good intro to the region; Cornas AOC, typically produces small production red wines that must be 100% Syrah; and Condrieu AOC, which is known for its white wines made from Viognier. 

Francois Villard Condrieu Terrasses du Palat 2019
Yves Cuilleron Ayguets Condrieu Doux 2016
Yves Cuilleron Rose de Saignee Sybel VDF 2021

Southern Rhône Valley

Windswept and warm, with little to no rain, Southern Rhône is wide, flat, and covered in vineyards and wild vegetation with a Mediterranean climate. Southern Rhône produces 95% of the region’s wine, which are primarily reds with a smattering of white, rose, and fortified wines. Blends are extremely common in Southern Rhône, but Grenache is their star. 

Six of the most well-known appellations within Southern Rhône are: Côtes du Rhône AOC, the largest appellation, which is also the base designation for wines from the entire Rhône Valley; Tavel AOC, which only produces rose wines; Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, named after castles constructed by Pope John XXII in early 14th century, it’s considered to be Rhône’s most prestigious AOC producing both red and white wines; Gigondas AOC, gained its own AOC status in 1971 and produces red and rose wines similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape but are lighter in style; Vacqueyras AOC, gained AOC status in 1990 because of their quality red, white, and rose wines; and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOC, which produces fortified wines from Muscat.

Domaine de Coyeux Les Cavares Beaumes de Venise 2007
Domaine de la Verriere Les Ocres Ventoux Rouge 2021
Domaine de Servans Côtes du Rhône 2020
Domaine des Florets Synchronicite Gigondas 2020
Domaine Gouron Gassier Nostre Pais Blanc 2019
Franck Balthazar Côtes du Rhône 2020