Journey through the Southern Rhône
Friday, July 11, 2014 in News
To journey through the Southern Rhône is to enter an enchanting garrigue-scented Mediterranean landscape. Here in the warm south, Grenache is king, blended together with Syrah and Mourvèdre amongst others, to produce perfumed, rich, fruit-driven red wines.
As you travel south through the Rhône region, the valley widens to reveal a flatter landscape with vineyards anchored in rocky, sandy soils. The climate here is warm to hot and distinctly Mediterranean, ideal for producing fruity full-bodied red wines.
Although red wine dominates production in the Southern Rhône, a small quantity of white wine is also made, blended from an assortment of varieties including Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne, Clairette, Viognier, Ugni Blanc and Picpoul Blanc.
The Southern Rhône is home to a number of different appellations, each producing different styles of wine. Below is a quick guide to some of the region’s best known appellations, to help you find your way around the region.
Côtes du Rhône
If you are looking for value in French wine, Côtes du Rhône has it in spades. The appellation is famous for producing volumes of great value, supple fruit-driven red wines made from varying amounts of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Although the grapes for Côtes du Rhône wines can come from any part of the Rhône Valley, the majority of Côtes du Rhône wines come from the southern Rhône Valley. A small amount of rosé and white (dominated by Grenache Blanc) is also produced here.
Côtes du Rhône-Villages
This is the appellation to go to when you are looking for a step-up in quality without the hefty price tag. Côtes du Rhône-Villages covers a number of village communes to the east and west of the town of Orange that do not have their own individual Appellation Controlée designation, but are recognized for producing high quality wine. Again reds dominate here made from a minimum of 40% Grenache, but smaller volumes of rosé and white wines are also produced.
If power is what you want, than look no further than Gigondas. Considered the 'baby brother' to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the appellation has built a reputation for producing premium quality, sturdy and powerful Grenache dominated blends with smaller amounts of Syrah Mourvèdre and other Rhône varietals. Robust and well-concentrated, the best wines of the appellation have the structure to cellar for well over a decade. A small amount of rosé is also made here.
The most famous appellation of the region with a history of viticulture dating back to 1308, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is renowned for producing complex, spicy, full-bodied red wines of power and concentration. Up to 18 different varieties can be employed to make wine in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but the vast majority of the red wine blends are still dominated by varying proportions of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. The greatest wines of the appellation can cellar for well over two decades. A smaller amount of complex, multi-facted white wine, blended from Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc is also made.
Take your own journey through the Southern Rhône and discover Langton’s great range of Southern Rhône wines.