The Rhone Valley
With its rich history, stunning views, and unparalleled growing conditions, the Rhone Valley deserves its reputation as one of the most famous wine regions in the world. But just like any other wine region, it has its own unique set of rules and realities that effects its wine. To make sure you get the most out of your visit to this magnificent wine-growing region, here are certain facts that you need to know about Rhone Valley.
The Rhone Valley is a large French wine region that has been famous for centuries. It is actually divided into two parts: Northern Rhone and Southern Rhone. Each of these parts possess smaller, unique subregions or appellations. The Northern Rhone Valley starts just south of Lyon and ends around the city of Valence. Southern Rhone Valley start just below the end of Northern Rhone and ends south of the city of Avignon. Southern Rhone is much larger than Northern Rhone, and produces the majority of the Rhone Valley’s wines. Although both the north and the south are famous for the quality of their wine.
Rhone Valley Grape Varieties
While Rhone produces red, white, and rosé wine it is best known for its red wine. Northern Rhone exclusively makes red wine with Syrah. But in Southern Rhone things get a bit more complicated. The vast majority of the red wine is made from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. But other, less popular grape varieties are also occasionally blended into the red wine in small quantities.
Did You Know: Some wineries in the Rhone Valley blend a small amount of white grape into their red wines to give the wine freshness.
While red wine is king here, there are still some excellent white wines produced as well. The main white grape varieties used in Rhone are Roussanne, Marsanne, and Viognier. Oftentimes the Roussanne and Marsanne are blended together, while Viognier is usually made into a single varietal wine.
The Rhone Valley produces tons of wine every year. It is estimated that the region makes almost 400M bottles each year. Most of the wine produced is marketed and consumed within France. Although, plenty is exported overseas to countries like the USA, Britain, Canada, and Germany.
The Rhone Valley History
Grapes are believed to have been cultivated in Rhone Valley for around 2,000 years. The region’s earliest vineyards were planted by the Ancient Greeks. The Ancient Romans also appreciated Rhone’s wines, and knew the best areas for growing grapes in Rhone.
Ancient ruins can still be seen around the Rhone region attesting to their ancient past. The Rhone Valley was also home to one of the biggest schisms in the Catholic Church. In the 14th century the Pope relocated his formal residence to Avignon, which later inspired the name for the wine region nearby, Chateauneuf du Pape (translating to new castle of the Pope).
On This Day
4TH Century BC: The Ancient Greeks planted grapes near Marseille. This region’s rich wine heritage began with them.
1309: The Pope relocated his formal residence to Avignon.
1600s: Regulations were made to govern the wine production in Cote du Rhone.
1737: A new rule was issued by Royal Decree insisting that wine barrels from Rhone were labeled CDR (Cotes du Rhone) to ensure quality.
Go deeper: Pompeii Wine
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