The Rhone Valley is located in the southeastern part of France and is generally divided into two main regions: the North and the South. The Southern Rhone focuses mainly on blended wines that utilize many of the grapes allowed in this region while the Northern Rhone uses Syrah for its reds and Viognier, Roussane, and Marsanne for its whites. Most Southern Rhone wines have at least some Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre in their blends.
The Southern Rhone is generally hot and the vineyards feature large stones called gallettes that retain the daytime heat throughout the night. As a result, Southern Rhone wines can often achieve high levels of ripeness and alcohol. The best wines are ageable, complex, and full of flavor and can rival the top wines from all over the world. The most famous village in the Southern Rhone is undoubtedly Chateauneuf du Pape. Chateuneuf du Pape features delicious, ageable red and white wines that are made from different combinations of grapes, usually leading with Grenache. While Chateauneuf du Pape is arguably the most important village in the Southern Rhone, it is by no means the alone. Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and Lirac as well as hosts of other small villages make wines with grape combinations similar to Chateauneuf, though the wines in these less important villages rarely achieve the greatness of the finest Chateauneuf du Pape. It is also important to note that the Southern Rhone produces many wines under the Cotes du Rhone appellation. Cotes du Rhone wines can be either red, white or rose. Like other Southern Rhone wines, Cotes du Rhones are made from blends of grapes. These wines often represent the best value in the Rhone valley, especially for everyday consumption. The final The Southern Rhone wines to note are the rose wines from Tavel. These wines are powerful and full-bodied and are generally regarded as some of the top roses in the world.
Unlike the Southern Rhone with its blended wines, the Northern Rhone's reds focus mainly on Syrah and the whites are comprised of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, depending on the region. Interestingly, though the red wines of Cote Rotie and Hermitage feature Syrah, these wines often blend in small amounts of white wines to increase the wines aromatic complexity. Like Chateauneuf du Pape in the south, the wines of the Northern Rhone are often long-lived. Cote Rotie and Hermitage, both red and white versions, can age for well over a decade, and often up to twenty years ore more. Though Cote Rotie and Hermitage are undoubtedly the most important red wine appellations of the North, they are by no means the only appellations. Some of the lesser appellations are St. Joseph, Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage which all feature Syrah as their main grape. As far as white wines go, the Northern Rhone plays host to two of the most famous in the world: Condrieu and Hermitage. The wines of Condrieu are made exclusively from Viognier while the white wines of Hermitage are made from Roussanne and Marsanne. Both Condrieu and Hermitage produce wines that are full of body, richness, complexity and a certain aromatic complexity that captivates wine drinkers from around the world.
"93 pts WS This has a sappy feel, with lots of kirsch, cherries jubilee and red licorice notes running together, while fruitcake, raspberry pate and Campari accents fill the sleek finish. Best from 2015 through 2025."
"90 Points- Wine Advocate. Very rich and with a wonderful creamy texture, the wine is based on a tight and refined tannic structure and develops, with a lot of energy, a palette of black fruits and fine spices. One of the great wines of the vintage!"
"94 Wine Spectator Very showy, with exuberant plum eau de vie, mint and toasty spice aromas giving way to dense but silky-textured raspberry and blackberry fruit flavors at the core, followed by a?a? and loganberry fruit on the finish. Shows lots of range and length, with racy underlying acidity. Best from 2014 through 2030."
"93 WA A new offering, the outstanding 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape Elegance de Jeanne (only 200 cases produced) was made from 108 year-old Grenache vines grown in the famed eastern Chateauneuf du Pape lieu dit called La Crau. Although it possesses the lightest color of these three 2007s, it also has the most concentration and intensity. Sultry, sexy, brash, exuberant notes of black cherries, raspberries, balsam wood, lavender, and licorice soar from the glass of this garish display of 100% old vine Grenache. Beautifully pure, round, full bodied, and dense, it is hard to resist at present, but it should evolve easily for 12 to 15 years."
"92pts-RP The deep ruby/purple-colored 2003 Hermitage is extremely concentrated. It is the biggest, richest Hermitage I have ever tasted from Belle. A striking liqueur of mineral component is accompanied by notes of flowers and pepper. Opaque purple-colored, full-bodied, powerful, and potentially long-lived, yields for this cuvee were only 18 hectoliters per hectare. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2025."
"92 Pts. WS. Nicely packed with fig, plum and currant fruit, all pushed by dark coffee and graphite notes on the rich finish. This has really solid drive and purity, with more grip than most in this vintage. Equal parts Grenache and Syrah. Drink now through 2028."
"Flying Solo Red has an explosion of red fruit on the nose. With soft, smooth tannins and a bright fruity pallet, this medium-bodied wine has a crisp, fresh finish and is certainly a crowd pleaser."
"90% Grenache, 10% Carignan. In the glass this wine is grapy and easy drinking with very primary notes of cherry and blackberry alongside of cracked black pepper. Perfumed black raspberry, fennel, and wild herbs jump out from the glass."
"Red cherry, damson plum, and spice notes mingle in this light-bodied, open-knit red. With a nice, lingering edge on the finish."
"94 Points- Wine Advocate. Beautiful on the nose, with notes of ground pepper, wild herbs, minerality and smoked plum and dark fruit, it's medium to full-bodied, nicely concentrated and has plenty of tannin that comes through on the finish."