Rhône Valley Wines
The Rhône vineyard is worlds apart from some other regions; terraces on steep slopes, playing leapfrog with the green hills. However, it is hard to speak in general terms about Rhône vineyards, as the valley diversifies itself along the river. For the northern coasts - which range from Vienna to Valence on granite slopes - main grape varieties are Syrah for red wines and Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne for white wines. As for the southern coasts - ranging from Montélimar to Avignon; the vine takes root in limestone soils, originating in lots of grape varieties. Grenache is the main grape for red wines; whilst for whites the main varieties are Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc. This diversity of influences, both geological and climatic, can only favour a very varied wine production. The birth and development of viticulture in the region also owes much to history, notably with the implantation of the papacy in Avignon at the end of the Middle Ages. Rhône Valley red wines have colours of varying intensity, ranging from ruby to very dark purple, and even black in their youth. The best ones have depth, persistence in the mouth and harmony; they can even compare to the great wines of Bordeaux. The most famous reds from this region are Côte-Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage and Châteauneuf-du-Pape; in regards to white wines, Condrieu and Clairette-de-Die are the most celebrated appellations. To the south of Cornas producing powerful reds, Saint-Péray is renowned for its full-bodied sparkling wine, while in the Drôme area, Clairette-de-Die is light and aromatic.