Discover the Rhône wine region!
It is safe to say that many of us have tried or at least heard of the Côtes du Rhône appellation – but how much do you know about the world-famous region itself?
Ahead of our wine tasting with Paul Jaboulet Ainé, who is sending a sommelier from the Rhône to help you discover some of their finest wine, we have decided to tell you a bit more about this amazing wine region located in Southern France.
It is said that the first cultivated vines in Rhône were planted around 600 BC. Today, the region has close to 2,000 private wineries and is home to numerous wines known under various "appellation d'origine contrôlée" (AOC) designations.
The northern and southern parts of the region are generally divided because, whilst they both produce Côte du Rhône which accounts for more than 50% of the region's production, the northern and southern have a distinct climate and produce different wines.
The northern part of the region is cooler and has a continental climate with harsh winters and warm summers.
The great majority of Northern Rhône wines are produced from Syrah — widely known as Shiraz. This is the only grape permitted in the red AOC. To bear the designation Cornas AOC, Syrah must be used exclusively, but the AOC rules accept blends with other white grapes like Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane in some other appellations.
For the whites, Viognier is used on its own for wines from Condrieu and Château-Grillet, whilst Marsanne and Roussanne are used to for Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint Joseph, and Saint Péray.
The southern region of Rhône is geographically much, much bigger than the North and therefore almost 95% of all Rhône wines originate from the southern part of the valley.
As the gateway to Provence — land of olive trees, cicadas and sunshine — this region has a more Mediterranean climate with milder winters and hotter summers. The region therefore produces more alcoholic and fruitier wines.
Southern Rhône’s most famous AOC is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape which is blended with up to 19 varietals (10 red and 9 white). However, there are 15 Southern Rhône AOC designations, including Coteaux du Tricastin, Côtes du Ventoux, Côtes du Vivarais, Lirac, Tavel and Vacqueyras which can be made by blending red and white grapes, like in the North.
Additionally, Southern Rhône is home to fortified wines made in the Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOC and Rasteau AOCs.
To conclude and to come back to the famous Côtes du Rhône, if you ever drank a bottle of this AOC, chances are that this affordable wine has come from the southern region of Rhône, as the North mostly produces higher priced wines due to the small size of their vineyards.
If you are interested in learning more about the Rhône wine region, we invite you to have a look at our Paul Jaboulet Ainé wine tasting menu and to book your tickets today!