Wine Education: Wine Education: There’s No Place Like Rhone
Maybe you've heard of Rhone wines, Rhone style wines, and even Rhone Rangers. Why have Rhone wines become so successful and what do all the terms really mean? Here are answers to some common questions about these high quality and easy to love wines.
Where is the Rhone Valley?
The Rhone Valley is an important wine region in southern France. It's divided into a northern part with cold winters and warm summers and a southern part with a more Mediterranean climate. More than 90% of the wines are produced in the southern part.
What are Rhone wines like?
A wide variety of grapes grow in the Rhone Valley. Rhone reds are usually made up of mostly Syrah and Grenache. With Rhone whites, the dominant grapes may be Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier or Clairette Blanche, with all their distinctly different flavors. With such a range of climates and grapes, Rhone wines can be anything from big and spicy to light and elegant.
What should I look for on the label?
There are several levels of Rhone wine you can distinguish by looking at the labels. The most common will be Cotes du Rhone AOC (an abbreviation in the French classification system standing for appellation d'origine controlee or place of origin). A step up in quality will be Cotes du Rhone Villages AOC, and even better if the village is referred to by name. The most acclaimed are the premier regions including Cote-Rotie, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cornas, and Crozes-Hermitage. Rhone style wines are wines made with grapes native to the Rhone Valley, but they come from other regions and countries.
Who are the Rhone Rangers?
They're a group of American winemakers who formed a nonprofit to promote American Rhone varietal wines. They now have chapters in California, Washington, Arizona, Michigan, and Virginia.
Indulge your love for Rhone wines at Vino Fine Wines and Spirits. Contact us to find your first bottle or add to your growing collection.
- Adam Linet