Rhone (Rhône)

Northern Rhône Syrah: Foods to Pair and Meals that Call for Northern Rhône Syrah

The Northern Rhône region in France—the classic spot for Syrah wines. This is where the variety originated and where it became popular in the 1970s after decades of decline. In recent years, Syrah has become famous as a varietal wine and as a blending partner (with Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, to name two) all over the world, from Spain to the US and Australia. But when I think of Syrah, it’s France that comes to mind—medium to full-bodied wines with intoxicating aromas of exotic flowers, game and roasted meats, a stony minerality and an utterly seductive herbaceous quality. There are five appellations for Syrah in the Northern Rhône: the Côte-Rôtie, St.-Joseph, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage, the most famous region in the world for Syrah. In Hermitage, well-known producers like Guigal and Jaboulet produce wines meant to age for decades, with prices that could take a regular person about that long to save up enough to afford, for example, Guigal’s internationally traded, high-end “La La” wines, which are some of the most expensive in the world. Northern Rhône Syrah is so rich and powerful that merchants in Bordeaux in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries blended it with their own wines to strengthen them.

Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world.  Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare.  Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history.   Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good.  Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category.  A few caveats.  I have not tried every wine on this list.  Some I have and others I hope to.  Many of these wines are rare and hard to find.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list.  After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it. 

Cotes du Rhone Wines: Great Value from the Rhone Valley

Wines from the Rhone Valley in France can be great values especially those wines labeled Cotes du Rhone.  Cotes du Rhone is an AOC wine whose territory extends over the Rhone Valley from Vienne in the north to Avignon in the south.  Cote means hillside and Rhone is the famous river that runs thru southeastern France.  The AOC spans across areas in both the northern and southern Rhone Valleys.  Cotes du Rhone is often referred to as a generic appellation because it is the lowest level of AOC wines and covers such a large area.  All though not the subject of this article, the AOC Cotes du Rhone Villages allows for “better” wines coming from one of the allowed villages.  These will be explored in a future article. 

Best Rhone Red Recommendation (For the Money)

IntoWine asked a panel of wine experts to recommend the best Rhone red wine (for the money):

With the price of Chateauneuf-du-Pape skyrocketing, now is a good time to explore some of the other Rhone Valley AOCs that offer good wines at better values. Just north east of Chateauneuf-du-Pape is the sun-drenched village of Vacqueyras. As if being overlooked by those on the prowl for Chateauneuf-du-Pape weren’t enough, like a younger sibling lost in the shadow of its glamorous older sister, Vacqueyras often plays second fiddle to its northerly neighbor Gigondas. Well the vineyards of Vacqueyras may not be as picturesque as those of Gigondas, their wines may not be as long lived, and they may not have received AOC status until nearly 20 years after Gigondas, but wines from Vacqueyras offer a rustic simplicity that make one think of enjoying a hearty cassoulet in a tiny cobblestone French village. By law the wines must be at least 50% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvèdre making up at least 20% of the blend. A fine example of Vacqueyras is the 2006 Clef de Murailles. This wine is made out of grapes grown from a local grower’s co-op and offers a classic expression of what the region produces at an affordable price. Deep and brooding, the wine is uninfluenced by oak so the spicy, mineral-laden terroir shines through. There is a touch of red fruit to this wine, but it’s not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for a jammy fruit bomb, stick to California; this is not your wine. But if you’re interested in taking a chance on an honest, traditional wine from a region that is generally ignore, pop open a bottle of Clef de Murailles. - Kareasa Wilkins, Wine Consultant for Weimax Wines & Spirits in Burlingame, CA and an IntoWine Featured Writer

Gigondas Wine: The Rhone Valley's Value Alternative to Chateauneuf du Pape

The Rhone valley produces many great wines such as Hermitage and Chateauneuf du Pape.  It also produces great value wines such as Cotes du Rhone.  Straddling both categories are some very good wines at reasonable prices including wines from the region of Gigondas (pronounced “zhi-gon-dahs”).  Often referred to as the poor man’s Chateauneuf du Pape, these wines are very similar to the style of wines of Chateauneuf albeit slightly lesser in quality.  The quality on many Gigondas wines has, however, greatly increased over the last decade.

Grenache Blanc & Picpoul: Less Known White Rhone Varietals Surge in U.S. Popularity

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier are the best known of the white Rhone varietals.  But there are two less recognized grapes that really add a “je ne sais quoi” to the overall quality of a white Rhone blend and each produces a zippy single-varietal wine as well.  These are Grenache Blanc and Picpoul.  Both are newcomers to the United States and are slowly starting to gain popularity.

Rhone Valley & Spanish Rhone-style Wines Tasted at the 2008 Hospice du Rhone Events

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

Last month we reported on American Rhone-style wines we tasted at the 16th annual Hospice du Rhone events in Paso Robles, California from May 1 to 3, 2008.  We noted that this event was an opportunity to consider Rhone-style wines from a fresh perspective because, unlike most tasting opportunities, these events included Rhone-style wines from the Rhone Valley itself (51 wineries), elsewhere in France (4 wineries) as well as from Spain (4 wineries), Australia (17 wineries), South Africa (6 wineries), Chile (2 wineries), Argentina (1 winery) and the United States.  While this was a California-dominated event, and while many of the Rhone Valley’s best producers weren’t represented, there was still sufficient European and other entries to make for interesting comparisons and contrasts.

2008 Hospice du Rhone Events: Highs & Lows of American Rhone-style Wines Tasted

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

The 16th annual Hospice du Rhone events in Paso Robles, California from May 1 to 3, 2008 was an opportunity to consider Rhone-style wines from a fresh perspective.  Unlike most tasting opportunities, these events included Rhone-style wines from the Rhone Valley itself (51 wineries), elsewhere in France (4 wineries) as well as from Spain (4 wineries), Australia (17 wineries), South Africa (6 wineries), Chile (2 wineries), Argentina (1 winery) and the United States.  The American wines were mostly from California (144 wineries), but a few examples from Arizona (2 wineries) and Washington State (5 wineries) were also included.  While this is a California-dominated event, and while many of the Rhone Valley’s best producers aren’t represented, there is still sufficient European and other entries to make for interesting comparisons and contrasts.  The events included two general tastings and a series of focused seminars.

Muscat Beaumes de Venise: Summer Magic

Muscat Beaumes de Venise is a light and sweet nectar of the Gods, with an aroma of rose petals and tropical fruit and a taste of candied oranges dripping with honey. It makes me glad for summer, because it is the perfect summer dessert wine.

Is Chateauneuf-du-Pape Really the King of Southern Rhone Red Wines?

The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series.

The most famous appellation in the southern Rhone Valley is Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wine critic Robert Parker makes no bones about loving Chateauneuf, and calls it the most important appellation in the entire Rhone Valley. According to reputation, the French appellation contrôllée system and market prices, the pecking order of southern Rhone wines is something like this: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise, Vinsobres, Cotes-du-Rhone Villages Cairanne (and Rasteau, Seguret and Sablet), Cotes-du-Rhone Villages from other named villages, Cotes-du-Rhone Villages (with no named village) and finally generic Cotes-du-Rhone. Check out our discussion about the various Rhone appellations.

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