With the quality of its grape varieties and its long attachment to wine-making, Rhone Valley has proven to be a trusted wine label around the world.
The Rhone Valley sits alongside the Rhone River (where the valley was named after) and stretches from Vienne in the north to Avignon in the south. It prides itself on a rich wine history that dates back to the Ancient Roman Empire. Wine-making disappeared when the Romans left, but re-emerged in the 13th century when the papal seat was transferred from Rome to Avignon. As the ‘vineyard of popes,’ Rhone became a much sought-after name for red wines in France and across Europe.
While the Syrah (or Shiraz) grapes – known as the source of topnotch red wines – are its predominant variety, Rhone Valley boasts a diverse range of grape produce that offers a myriad of distinct wine products. Add to this is the Rhone Valley’s varying climate, with the cool northern region suited for Syrahs while the southern section characterized by the warm Mediterranean breeze. In a Marks and Spencer TV primer by wine guru Chris Murphy, the abundance of Syrah, Marsanne, Grenache and Roussane grapes is also attributed to the valley’s unique style of vine growing: “The land is very stony. And in some vineyards, the vines are literally planted in rock, which retains the daytime heat and protects the vines during the very cold nights.”
Perhaps the most recognizable label from the Rhone Valley is the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, which means “The Pope’s new castle” in French. And true to its name, the Chateauneuf-du-Pape continues to bear the same quality and regality that the Avignon popes previously enjoyed. Red wines of Grenache variety are its most popular product, although white wines that are blended with Grenache blanc and Roussane are also gaining traction among wine buyers. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is also desired for its high alcohol content, typically at 13-15% per bottle.
With the quality of its grape varieties and its long attachment to wine-making, Rhone Valley has proven to be a trusted wine label in Europe and around the world. So when visiting France, try to grab a bottle of red and white wines straight from the vineyard of popes that is the Rhone Valley.