What is the climate of the Southern Rhône?
The climate of the Southern Rhône is Mediterranean.
This is in contrast to the Northern Rhône's more Continental climate. The Southern Rhône has milder winters, drier summers, and is better suited to a wider array of grape varieties.
How does the topography of the Southern Rhône differ from that of the Northern Rhône?
The Southern Rhône is considerably less hilly than the Northern Rhône, and in many places quite level and flat.
What are the characteristics of the best vineyards of the Southern Rhône?
Many of the best vineyards in the Southern Rhône have stony soils which absorb the sun's heat during the day and warm the vineyard in the evening.
What are galets?
Galets are large stones or pebbles which are characteristic of some of the best vineyard soils of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP.
What is the Mistral?
The Mistral is a powerful, cold, dry, northwesterly wind which greatly affects the Rhône Valley and eastern portion of the Languedoc.
The Mistral can cause large-scale damage to vineyards in the Southern Rhône because the land here is flat with nothing to block the wind.
What are some important trellising systems implemented in the Southern Rhône to deal with the powerful winds of the area?
Growers of Grenache use bush training or gobelet-style training for their vineyards, keeping the vines low to the ground and minimizing the risk of wind damage.
Syrah, which is more prone to wind damage, will have more supportive trellising systems.
How does the grape variety makeup of Southern Rhône wines differ from that of Northern Rhône wines?
In the Northern Rhône, wines will be made from only one or two grape varieties.
In the Southern Rhône, wines are often complex blends of grape varieties.
Some Southern Rhône wines can be made from more than a dozen grape varieties!
The most widely planted grape variety of the Southern Rhône is ___.
Approximately how many acres or hectares of the Rhône Valley are planted to this grape?
Nearly 122,000 acres (50,000 ha) are planted to Grenache.
Compare this to Syrah's 33,000 acres (13,500 ha) and you can see how prominent Grenache is in the Rhône Valley.
What is the dominant white grape of the Southern Rhône?
What are the grapes of the Southern Rhône's G-S-M blend?
- G - Grenache
- S - Syrah
- M - Mourvèdre
What are some important white grape varieties of the Southern Rhône that are not grown in the Northern Rhône?
Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Bourboulenc are important grapes of the Southern Rhône that are not grown in the Northern Rhône.
Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne are grown in both the Southern and Northern Rhône.
What are the two communal appellations of the Southern Rhône located on the right, or west, bank of the Rhône River?
Tavel and Lirac
Side note: This can be confusing because, on a map, Tavel and Lirac are located to the left of the Rhône River but are described as being on the right bank. The thing to remember is that the banks of a river are named “left” or “right” according to the directional flow of that river. The Rhône River flows from north to south and so, drifting downstream, Tavel and Lirac will appear on your right. Ergo, they are located on the right, or west, bank.
What is the only style of wine made in Tavel AOP?
Tavel AOP is approved for dry, still, rosé wines only.
The wines of Tavel AOP are more full-bodied than Provence rosés and are capable of longer aging due to their increased complexity.
What are the main grapes of Tavel AOP and Lirac AOP rosé wines?
Grenache and Cinsault
Lirac AOP doesn't only make rosé wines -- it also makes __ and __ very much in the style of this AOP.
Whites and reds like Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP.
What is the largest cru in the Rhône valley?
What was the first winemaking region in the Southern Rhône to achieve Appellation Contrôlée (AOC) status?
Châteauneuf-du-Pape has a unique place in French history as it was the first region in all of France to be granted Appellation Contrôlée status.
How many grape varieties are approved for use in the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape?
The ones to know are:
What appellation of the Southern Rhône is known for its famous Muscat-based dessert wine?
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOP
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOC is a fortified wine that must have an alcohol content of 15% or higher.
What style of wine is produced in Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOP?
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise AOP makes Vin Doux Naturels in white, red, and rosé. The white is by far the most common.
See the Fortified Muscat deck for more information.
What large appellation accounts for more than half the entire production of AOP level wines of the Southern Rhône?
Côtes du Rhône AOP
What is the dominant vine training system of the Southern Rhône?
Gobelet, aka Bush trained
What kinds of wines are produced in the communal appellations of Gigondas AOP and Vacqueyras AOP?
Gigondas AOP and Vacqueyras AOP are both known for producing Grenache-based blends in a full-bodied, spicy style similar to Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOP.
What are some of the important differences between wines labeled Côtes du Rhône AOP and Côtes du Rhône-Villages AOP?
Côtes du Rhône-Villages AOP will have:
- Higher minimum alcohol level;
- Strict maximum yields;
- Higher percentage of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre in the blend.
Côtes du Rhône wines are uncomplicated and simple while Côtes du Rhône-Villages wines have more character and structure.
Name the appellations in the Southern Rhône valley from north to south.
Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise
What characteristics will Grenache-based wines of the Southern Rhône take on during especially hot years?
The usual Grenache flavors of red fruit and spice will be more baked and jammy in especially warm vintages in the Southern Rhône.
What styles of wine are made under the Côtes du Rhône AOP?
While the majority of Côtes du Rhône AOP wines are red, the appellation also allows rosé and white wines to be produced.
Can Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines ever be made as 100% Grenache?
Yes, in fact some very famous ones are made with 100% Grenache.
Most Châteauneufs, however, are blends; they rely on the tannins and gamey flavor of Mourvèdre and the spice of Syrah to balance the fruitiness of Grenache.