Rhone Wines

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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The Rhone is a wine growing region which surrounds the banks of the Rhone River in France. The Rhone stretches north and south, from southern Burgundy down to the Mediterranean Sea. Although it covers some 120 miles, experts contend that the Rhone really falls into two main wine producing regions, that in the extreme north and the other in the extreme south.

The Rhone: The Roasted Slope

In the north area, the Syrah is the predominant grape. The Cote Rotie is an appellation within this northern area, and produces two excellent Syrahs--one in lighter soil, the other in darker. Their names suggest the soil: Cote Blond, and Cote Brun. Each of these contains about 80 percent Syrah grapes, the balance supplemented by Viognier grapes. Both these wines are noted for their deep color, full bodies and exotic flavors.

Another excellent wine found in the northern section of the Rhone is Condrieu, a white made entirely of Viognier grapes. Many experts say that Condriu is the finest of all the Rhone whites. It is praised for maintaining balance, while still delivering a heady and intense flavor.

In the south, the grapes planted are more varied, and where Syrah is the big leader in the North, the Grenache grape is the king of southern Rhone wines. The most famous of all Rhone wines is made here in this southern region, the Chateauneuf du Pape. Chateauneuf du Pape may be made from anywhere from four to 14 different grapes, with Grenache always in the blend. It is also available in either white or red form. The reds can be surprisingly affordable, and considering their quality, are deemed an excellent value.

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