The Rhone Valley is located in the southeastern part of France and is generally divided into two main regions: the North and the South. The Southern Rhone focuses mainly on blended wines that utilize many of the grapes allowed in this region while the Northern Rhone uses Syrah for its reds and Viognier, Roussane, and Marsanne for its whites. Most Southern Rhone wines have at least some Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre in their blends.
The Southern Rhone is generally hot and the vineyards feature large stones called gallettes that retain the daytime heat throughout the night. As a result, Southern Rhone wines can often achieve high levels of ripeness and alcohol. The best wines are ageable, complex, and full of flavor and can rival the top wines from all over the world. The most famous village in the Southern Rhone is undoubtedly Chateauneuf du Pape. Chateuneuf du Pape features delicious, ageable red and white wines that are made from different combinations of grapes, usually leading with Grenache. While Chateauneuf du Pape is arguably the most important village in the Southern Rhone, it is by no means the alone. Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Lirac as well as hosts of other small villages make wines with grape combinations similar to Chateauneuf, though the wines in these less important villages rarely achieve the greatness of the finest Chateauneuf du Pape. It is also important to note that the Southern Rhone produces many wines under the Cotes du Rhone appellation. Cotes du Rhone wines can be either red, white or rose. Like other Southern Rhone wines, Cotes du Rhones are made from blends of grapes. These wines often represent the best value in the Rhone valley, especially for everyday consumption. The final The Southern Rhone wines to note are the rose wines from Tavel. These wines are powerful and full-bodied and are generally regarded as some of the top roses in the world.
Unlike the Southern Rhone with its blended wines, the Northern Rhone's reds focus mainly on Syrah and the whites are comprised of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, depending on the region. Interestingly, though the red wines of Cote Rotie and Hermitage feature Syrah, these wines often blend in small amounts of white wines to increase the wines aromatic complexity. Like Chateauneuf du Pape in the south, the wines of the Northern Rhone are often long-lived. Cote Rotie and Hermitage, both red and white versions, can age for well over a decade, and often up to twenty years ore more. Though Cote Rotie and Hermitage are undoubtedly the most important red wine appellations of the North, they are by no means the only appellations. Some of the lesser appellations are St. Joseph, Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage which all feature Syrah as their main grape. As far as white wines go, the Northern Rhone plays host to two of the most famous in the world: Condrieu and Hermitage. The wines of Condrieu are made exclusively from Viognier while the white wines of Hermitage are made from Roussanne and Marsanne. Both Condrieu and Hermitage produce wines that are full of body, richness, complexity and a certain aromatic complexity that captivates wine drinkers from around the world.
"A blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Mourvedre, this Sablet offers aromas of dark berries intermingled with roasting spices. An excellent value, it is harmonious, balanced, spry, juicy, and light to medium-bodied. Sweet flowers, tree bark, truffle, and blueberry and black cherry in this forward, friendly wine. Drink it over the next 3 years."
"92 WS Really lush, but well-defined, with salted butter, macadamia nut, papaya, dried mango and paraffin notes that glide through a long, creamy finish. A modern style, but still grounded in its terroir."
"93 Points- Stephen Tanzer. Knockout aromas of strawberry, cherry, blood orange and flowers, complicated by a smoky minerality and a building peppery quality. Wonderfully elegant and silky wine, with perfectly integrated acidity giving it noteworthy energy. This saturates the palate without leaving any sense of undue weight."
"96 Points- Wine Advocate.Garrigue, truffle, leather and plenty of ripe fruit flow to a full-bodied, mouth filling and unctuously textured feel on the palate. A classic, foudre-aged blend of 75% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and the rest other permitted varieties. Drink through 2023."
"92 points - Wine Spectator Beautiful, silky Ch?teauneuf terroir aromas: leather, game, truffles, plum, dried herbs, lead pencil. It all swirls around in the palate, a deeply satisfying blend that surprises and harks back to something as simple as a walk in the country on a rainy autumn day. Supple tannins on the balanced finish. Drink now through 2010."
"Grenache, Syrah. Wild Berries and currants meld with spices on a bright, clean palate. Perfect with chicken, veal, or a variety of grilled meats."
"90-92 Points - Vinous. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Offers tons of Christmas spice, white pepper and black raspberry and assorted berry fruits to go with a medium-bodied, moderately concentrated, slightly angular feel on the palate."
"Ripe fruit balanced out by backbone and structure, this Syrah shows plum, black pepper, pencil lead, and warming spices. Perfect with hardier comfort foods such as cassoulet or braised beef short ribs."
"100% Marsanne and made from 60% estate-grown fruit and 40% purchased fruit (only from people whose wines they drink). Be that as it may it is a terrific Northern Rhone white. While it lacks the depth of the signature JL Chave Hermitage Blanc, it has terrific balance, acidity with a soft round palate. Simply a terrific wine."
"92 Points- Vinous. Dark berries, cherry pit, licorice, and smoky minerals on the seductively perfumed nose. Firm, sharply focused bitter cherry and cassis flavors are underscored by a peppery nuance and put on weight with air. A sexy floral pastille note comes up with air and carries through a long, youthfully tannic finish."