The Rhône Valley, and in particular the Southern Rhône, is right up there as France’s hottest vineyard area. It’s right on the Riviera, where all the rich and famous (and people who don’t know any better) go on the their summer holidays to soak up the sun and sea breezes. The grapes are doing exactly the same.
The heat of the area means this is the place for growing those otherwise tough to grow grapes. Grenache (Garnacha in Spain) is the king round here, but there’s plenty of other hot climate grapes, and I mean plenty! Blending is the key, so into the blend with the Grenache you’ll usually get Syrah, Mouvedre, and possibly many more.
One of the cool things about how they grow the grapes round here is the use of galets. These are effectively big pebbles that soak up the heat of the sun and keep the vineyards and grapes warm all the way through the day and the seasons. The breezes from the north and from the sea help to stop it getting too nuts. It’s perfect conditions for these grapes.
What will you have heard of round here? Well fans of Only Fools and Horses will have heard of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is the famous AOC in the area.
The entry point is Côtes Du Rhônes. That’s the NWTW. It’s a huge AOC area, so there’ll be plenty knocking around on the shelves. Feel free though to take a step up the quality scale to Côtes Du Rhônes Villages (more selective AOC area and thought of as the best value here), and even to the individual villages that have broken away to their own AOCs, like Gigondas and Vacqueyras.
Other posts in #NWTW Week 38