After BURGUNDY: A LEGENDARY TERROIR and BEAUJOLAIS DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO YOU!, it seemed normal to me to continue my road of the wines of France by the Côtes du Rhône valley. But as the Rhône is very extensive, these vineyards are necessarily just as extensive. That is why this article will be written in two parts: The northern and the southern.
THE NORTHERN RHÔNE COAST
We are for this first part upstream of the river, between Lyon and Valence. The steep banks of the riverside offer a breathtaking landscape. On these most beautiful slopes, from the vines, most often on terraces.
This wine-growing region is very steep. It is often impossible to bring agricultural machinery and sometimes even horses. In some cases, the harvest is even carried out as a reminder.
MANY APPELLATIONS BUT ONLY ONE GRAPE VARIETY
For you, in this northern part of the Côtes du Rhône, you are in the middle of the Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Cornas (red), Côte-Rôtie (red) or Hermitage appellations.
With the exception of Côte-Rôtie, all other northern Côtes du Rhône appellations will be 100% Syrah. This grape variety gives the wines of southern France its notes of fresh peppers, blackberries and violets.
In the other regions of France, Syrah is often associated with Grenache noir (it is the most classic blend). Yet in this part of the vineyard, we love pure Syrah.
WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE ROTIE DIMENSION
As seen above, the Côte-Rôtie derogates from the rule (French vineyard obliges;-)) by authorizing 20% to viognier, a white grape variety in the vinification of these wines.
In reality, the rate of viognier in the blend rarely exceeds 2 to 5%. Beyond that, wines tend to lose their power and character.
These wines are quite expensive (between 30 and 45€ min.) but I advise you to taste them at least once. They are, in my opinion, among the top of the French red wines, it great finesse while remaining relatively intense!
OTHER RED WINES
Let us not forget for all that the other appellations because in spite of this wine making in mono-variety on Syrah. The North of the Côtes du Rhône remains nevertheless a region very varied by these wines.
CORNAS. This PDO* will give the most powerful wines of this part of the Côtes du Rhône. Notes of liquorice, prunes, wood, forest and pepper.
I remind you (or you learn) that the term Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (A.O.C.) has been replaced by Appellation d’Origine Protégée (A.O.P.)
HERMITAGE. They will be a little less powerful than the Cornas but will still be quite robust. The Hermitage will have more ripe red and black fruit aromas.
SAINT-JOSEPH. The latter can be very variable depending on its vinification. Generally, these wines are powerful but very fine and smooth. You will find aromas of tender red fruits, liquorice and fresh green pepper but also more floral notes.
THE WHITES OF THE RHONE
For white wines, there is more possibility to blend the grape varieties. Viognier, Grenache, Clairette will be present in the Côtes du Rhône. However, in the north of the appellation, Marsanne and Roussanne are preferred. These two grape varieties together offer powerful, concentrated wines full of beautiful aromas of white flowers, stone fruits and citrus zest.
The names in white are: Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Peray (white), Saint-joseph, Condrieu (white), Château-Grillet (white) and Hermitage.
For Crozes and Saint-Peray, nothing special except that they are often excellent value for money when you don’t know what to choose for an aperitif.
However, the case of the following wines deserves to be studied.
SAINT-JOSEPH. These wines are vinified with Marsanne and Roussanne. They are very often delicate and fragrant wines. The oak barrel will eventually give it more character.
HERMITAGE. The Côtes du Rhône had to offer you a racy and powerful white wine. There he is! The white Hermitage will be a perfect companion for your white meat with character (Bresse chicken, turkey stuffed with peppers, capon, pheasant, partridge).
CHATEAU-GRILLET. This is a very special PDO. To begin with, it is the smallest protected orogine appellation in France. So, I wouldn’t tell you much more than the other sites because I’ve never had the opportunity to taste them yet. The appellation only concerns the château in question on 3.5 hectares. I invite you to visit their magnificent site because the history is fascinating. http://chateau-grillet.com/en
I end with this one because he is my darling with the Saint Joseph. As much to say that to make Condrieu is deserved because this part of the Rhône is particularly steep. But what wine!
It goes wonderfully with noble seafood (shrimp, langoustine, lobster…)
AND THE ROSE?
There are many very different rosés, but I will tell you about them especially for the southern Côtes du Rhône.
I’ll see you next week like every week.
Tell me in comment below if the contents please you that I can make it evolve towards contents always more relevant.
See you soon,
Corentin – DesVinsaVous