Northern Rhône Valley
(Rhône, Loire and Ardèche departments)
The northern vineyards run from Vienne to Valence, along the Rhône river. From north to south the AOC areas are: côte-rotie, condrieu, château-grillet, saint-joseph, hermitage, crozes-hermitage, cornas, saint-peray. Syrah is the only red grape variety, so e.g. Cornas and Côte-Rotie are 100% Syrah. The main white grapes are viognier, marsanne and roussanne. Condrieu and Château-grillet are 100% viognier.
Southern Rhône Valley
(Ardèche, Drôme, Gard and Vaucluse departments)
The southern vineyards produce blended wines and are planted with a wider variety of grapes than in the north. Red: grenache, syrah, mourvèdre, carignan, cinsault... White: grenache blanc, clairette, bourboulenc, ugni blanc. The climate is more Mediterranean with the Mistral wind and drought in the summer, sparse rainfall in spring and mostly autumn/fall.
The southern AOC areas: Côtes-du-Rhône villages (including the following entitled to put the village name on the label Beaumes-de-Venise, Cairanne, Chusclan, Laudun, Rasteau, Rochegude, Saint-Gervais, Sablet, Séguret, Valréas, Vinsobres, Visan), Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Coteaux du Tricastin, Côtes du Lubéron, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Ventoux, Gigondas, Lirac, Tavel and Vacqueyras.
Plenty of places of interest for the wine traveller
Jaboulet’s wine museum
Nine Côtes-du-Rhône vineyard touring routes, set up by InterRhône (cross-regional trade body) with growers and wineries who have the ‘Welcome to Côtes du Rhône country’ quality charter.
Cairanne’s tour of the senses
The Papal vineyard, planted on the ‘Rocher (rockface) des Doms’ above the Papal Palace
Winegrowers’ tools museum in Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Interesting and useful websites
Dynamic producer groups
The Southern Ardèche
In the Ardèche region, which has two AOCs: côtes-du-vivarais and côtes-du-rhône as well as Vins de Pays Côteaux de l'Ardèche, worth seeing: the ‘Maison des Vignerons Ardéchois’ wine tasting shop, Vinimage in Ruoms.
La Nouvelle Ecole de la Vallée du Rhône (New Rhone Valley Wine School)
Which brings together:
Côtes du Lubéron