The Rhône Valley is the oldest wine region in France, known already for the ancient Greeks. Vineyards spread along 230 kilometres on the most rugged and sunny banks of the Rhône River. The area is divided in two well distinguished parts: North Rhône with abundant vegetation and oak forests, and South Rhône, quite more Mediterranean-like, with olive and almond trees, lavender and rosemary.
The Rhône Valley has a longstanding tradition of red wine production, ranging from intense and tannic ones to other more spiced, fruity and highly alcoholic. White wines, strong and unctuous are a minority, being the north the most representative zone.
In the North Rhône, vineyards grow over staggered cliffs with good sun exposure and where Syrah variety has extraordinarily adapted to its granite soils. Besides, and to a lesser extent, other three white varieties are cultivated: Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier. Usually the finest wines are produced in the Côte Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage appellations. On the other hand, Cornas wines are more on the Hermitage style but rather rustic while Saint-Joseph are easier and fresher.
Montélimar splits the Rhône Valley in two parts and when entering the South Rhône landscape is definitely more Mediterranean both in climate and vegetation. Vineyards are planted in alluvial terraces of rounded pebbles, and more exposed to the intense hot weather. Red varieties typical here are Garnacha, Mourvèdre and Syrah, and the best wines are produced in Châteauneuf du Pape since Roman times. Other remarkable appellations that also produce white, rosé and red wine are Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages. Some producers as Château de Fonsalette, Château Gigognan and Coudoulet de Beaucastel are astonishing examples of both generic designations.
Vallée du Rhône: Spice journey!