A Wine Cellar guide to Rhône wines

With its rich, concentrated reds and textured whites, wine lovers agree that there’s no place like the Rhône. The sunny Rhône Valley in south-eastern France has a warm, continental climate. The soils are mainly composed of granite and the southern Rhône is famous for its large rounded stones called ‘galets’.

Key white varieties

Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. Clairette is often used in blends too.

Key red varieties

Syrah/Shiraz and Grenache while Mourvèdre and Cinsault are commonly used in southern Rhône blends.

The Wines of the Rhône

Reds

Reds from the north are generally full-bodied and powerful and they typically show dark fruit flavours, pepper and violets, becoming more savoury and meatier as they mature.


Reds from the southern Rhône can be blends of up to 13 different grape varieties. The wines tend to display red fruit aromas and can have softer tannins and be lighter in colour than their northern counterparts. The most revered region in the southern Rhône is unquestionably Châteauneuf-du-Pape – an appellation that makes spicy, rich wines.


Whites

White wines from the northern Rhône show fragrant apricot, tropical fruits and marshmallow with a full, rich mouthfeel, while whites from the south are generally not as highly regarded. They are higher in alcohol and pleasantly textured.

Chapoutier Sélections Parcellaires

Chapoutier Sélections Parcellaires

Classification

The wines are classified by the area in which they are grown, with each area designated a particular AOC status. The region's major appellation in terms of production volume is Côtes du Rhône AOC, which covers both the northern and southern sub-regions. Grenache is usually the principal component of red Côtes du Rhône wines.

Cru

Allowed for 16 named appellations, e.g. Côte-Rôtie AOC. The individual vineyard names are sometimes displayed on the label. This is the highest classification.

Côtes du Rhône-Villages with village name

This classification is allowed for 18 named villages or communes, including Visan and Séguret.

Côtes du Rhône-Villages AOC

Stricter growing and winemaking restrictions than Côtes du Rhône AOC, therefore it is a higher classification than Côtes du Rhône.

Côtes du Rhône AOC

More than half of the Rhône Valley’s production. The lowest classification for Rhône AOC wine.

Did you know?

Wines from the northern Rhône make up only a 10th of the production of wines from the Rhône Valley.