Wine-growing region Rhône
The Rhône wine region, the second largest AOC wine region in France, extends over 200 kilometres from Vienne to Avignon. From the steep slopes of the north to the flatter terrain of the southern Rhône, over 90 percent of the vineyards are red. The Rhône valley is the home of sophisticated classics and uncomplicated everyday wines.
Northern Rhône: concentrating on the essentials in a continental climate
Eight major appellations and a single red grape: we are in the realm of Syrah, the only red grape variety authorised for the steep slopes between Vienne and Valence. Just five percent of all Rhône wines come from this part of the wine region. Hot summers and, thanks to mild Mediterranean influences, only moderately cold winters in the upper Rhône valley meet the needs of the Syrah. In the best locations, dry and stony soils interspersed with clay, lime, gravel and granite rubble, as well as a cool microclimate, allow the development of powerful aromas and delicately delicate notes. Excellent examples of the region's great plants are classics such as La Chapelle Hermitage Rouge from the Domaine Paul Jaboulet Aîné and Côte Rôtie La Landonne AOC from the Maison Delas.
In some smaller AOCs along the Drôme, a tributary of the Rhône coming from the foothills of the Alps, as well as in the northern part of the AOC Côtes du Rhône, other red grape varieties are cultivated alongside Syrah. White grape varieties occupy less than a tenth of the northern Rhône region.
Southern Rhône: Full diversity with a southern swing
Red wines also dominate along the Rhône from Orange to Avignon as well as the appellations further east such as Côtes du Ventoux and Côtes du Luberon. The Mediterranean climate and the soils of varying textures, which have been dry-swept by the mistral, favour a wide variety of red and white grape varieties - with the latter accounting for no more than three percent of the total area under cultivation.
Although Syrah is also cultivated here in the AOCs Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône-Villagens, the main role in the southern Rhône valley is played by Grenache based cuvées. The region's grand seigneur is the AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where both pure varieties and cuvées from up to 13 grape varieties are produced. Virtually opposite, on the western bank of the Rhône, lies Tavel, the only appellation that produces exclusively rosé wines. Vacqueyras and Gigondas in particular stand out from the majority of everyday wines as top-class AOCs.
The most important grape varieties of the Rhône region
- Gamay and Pinot Noir (smaller areas on the Drôme)
South of Valence to the border with the Camargue
- Grenache Blanc
- Clairette Blanche
- Piquepoul Blanc
Things worth knowing about Rhône
When and how did the Rhône become a famous wine region?
When the Greeks founded the city Marseille in the 6th century B.C., they probably also brought the first vines. The wine-growing in the Rhône valley is proven for approximately 2.400 years. Bishop Gregor of Tours mentioned wine from Avignon in the year 500. In the 13th century, Pope John XXII had his own vineyard planted on calcareous gravel soil a little north of Avignon - the Châteauneuf-du-Pape saw the light of day.
How is the AOC system in the Rhône Valley structured?
- The Côtes du Rhône AOC covers around 80 percent of the total area under cultivation in this wine-growing region and belongs almost exclusively to the southern Rhône Valley. According to AOC regulations, a maximum of 51 hectolitres of wine per hectare may be produced here.
- Côtes du Rhône-Villages designates the next higher quality level, the maximum permitted yield is 45 hectolitres/hectare. Some of the wine-growing communities of this AOC are also allowed to mention the place name on the label, here a maximum yield of 42 litres per hectare is permitted; in high-yielding vintages it may be slightly more.
- The crus include the 17 most highly qualified AOCs in the region. The permitted yield is regulated individually, it is 40 for a Hermitage, 36 for a Vacqueyras, 35 for a Gigondas and 33 hectolitres per hectare for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Are there any interesting white wines in the Rhône region?
In terms of area, the cultivation of white grape varieties accounts for a very small proportion of the vineyards in the Rhône Valley. The Rhône is also home to powerful white wines with a complex minerality, including the pure Marsanne Chante Alouette Hermitage Blanc AOC from Maison Chapoutier or the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc AOC Vieux Télégraphe, a cuvée of Bourboulenc, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne. In the northern Rhône, the autochthonous Viognier vine is grown in small but growing quantities as a pure variety. Up to 20% of this aromatic grape may be combined with Syrah, and there are also several white grapes among the varieties used for red Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Discover wines from the Rhône online on VINELLO
Enjoy top wines from the Rhône at reasonable prices from our online shop. At VINELLO, you will find a representative selection of the winegrowers and wineries from the Rhône. With us you shop safely and can look forward to a fast delivery of your order. We also offer a variety of payment options from which you can choose your preferred method of payment.
Another advantage with VINELLO is that our sommeliers are available by telephone for detailed advice to introduce you to the world of Rhône wines. This makes it easier and quicker for you to find your favourites, whether for a special occasion, an evening with friends or for your own private enjoyment.