The region - RHONE - region of TWO HALVES!
The AOC Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley) region is a narrow area region which stretches 200 km from
Vienne in the north and extends on both banks of the Rhone river to Avignon in the south, and from
the foothills of the Massif Central in the west to the fore-slopes of the Vaucluse and Luberon
mountains east of the town of Orange. 171 communes in the six French departments are concerned
with production from the 83,839 hectares of vineyard. The average yield is 54 hectolitres per
hectare. All wines must have a minimum alcohol content of 11%. The average annual production of
around 3.3 million hectolitres, 419 million bottles , produced by 6,000 concerns including
5,300 growers, 875 private producers, 70 co-operative wineries, and 20 merchant/producers and
blenders, making it the second largest single appellation regions in the world.
Over 75% of Côtes du Rhône wines are red with the range of grape varieties grown is very much
influenced by the terroir with climatic conditions as well as the soil types have influenced
the grape varieties cultivated. Each different variety lends its own character, and a blend of
several grape varieties will result in well-balanced, finely tuned wines. In the north
Grenache is dominate, however Syrah must be used for certain appellation wines with Carignan for
red wine making put the rest of the red wines. Côtes du Rhône is the home of Viognier, a white
grape used to largely in the north. Clairette is the dominate white wine grape followed by Ugni
Blanc and Grenache Blanc.
The region - NORTHERN & SOUTHERN RHONE
The Rhône should be viewed as consisting of two fairly distinct viticultural and geographic regions.
North of Côtes du Rhône from Vienne to Valence are the Côte Rôtie, Condrieu - Château Grillet,
Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, and Cornas. Here the vines are cultivated on very steep slopes
making the harvest extremely arduous with grapes hand-picked. The northern Rhône is characterized
by a continental climate with harsh winters but warm summers. Its climate is influenced by the
mistral wind, which brings colder air from the Massif Central. Northern Rhône is therefore less
warm than southern Rhône. The soil in the north tends to be granite with a mixture of shingle
with clay and layered stones on the hillsides.
In the south of the Côtes du Rhône from Montélimar to Avignon are the Gigondas, Châteauneuf du Pape,
and Côtes du Ventoux with 123 communes. The majority of these vineyards are on the eastern side of
the Rhône between the river bank near the town of Orange, and the Vaucluse-Luberon chain of mountains.
Here the soils tend to be limestone with the Limestone-clay soils producing full-bodied wines, which
are heavy, dense in colour with a powerful bouquet. While the dry, stony soils produce more refined
wines, renowned for their elegance, finesse and fruit content. The southern Rhône sub-region has a
more Mediterranean climate with milder winters and hot summers. Drought can be a problem in the area,
but limited irrigation is permitted. The differing terroirs, together with the rugged landscape which
partly protects the valleys from the Mistral, produce microclimates which give rise to a wide diversity