Grape Varietals of Rhone Wine Routes  - Grown in France's most diverse wine terroir region.   Rhone vineyards  welcome tourists and often sell their classic wines at bargain prices.  Espesciallly at the Rhone Cooperatives.

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          Viognier Grape                                    Syrah Grape

Wine Blending is creating- an art- to get the right mix of components for pleasure. Each component acts on or with the other components to produce harmony or discord.

  

Its not a hit and miss effort by hopeful amateurs. But a serious business for experieced professionals to get the desired balance and flavours. Too much of one wine component doesn't work.  Some wines will be made to age others for immediate drinking. As you visit domaines in the Southern Rhone each blend will be unique, and  your judging each's quality adds a lot of interest to your trip.  Ask the domaine assistants when each wine is best to drink.

 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the vinyard stones.

White wine Grapes                                                                                                                               VIOGNIER (highly aromatic. with its aroma of peach, apricot, and violets. It  is full-bodied, with stone fruit and spice flavors and moderate to low acidity.

ROUSSANNE  golden color, and excellent aging potential. . It tastes of honey and pear fruit. It has rose petal, honeysuckle, and nutty aroma with a rich mouth-feel and moderate acidity.

GRENACHE BLANC has a .combination of richness and acidity, flavors of green apple, preserved lemon and grapefruit can develop nuttiness with age.

 MARSANNE has gentle aromas of herbal tea and honeydew melon. Medium body with flavors of honey sweet spice and lingering minerality. .

PICPOUL BLANC,. translating to ‘lip stinger’, produces wines noted for their acidity, with floral and tropical fruit in riper vintages. . . .

The Rhône wine region - numerous wines under various Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) 

The region's major appellation in production volume is Côtes du Rhône AOC.

The Rhône wine trails are  divided into two sub-regions with distinct vinicultural traditions, the Northern Rhône ( in French as Rhône septentrional) and the Southern Rhône (in French Rhône méridional). The northern sub-region produces almost entirely red wines from the Syrah grape, though sometimes blended with juice from the white Viognier grapes. The southern sub-region produces a range of blended wines mostly red, but also white and rosé wines.  An exception worth seeking out is Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, a sweet white wine made with fortified muscat grapes

.Each of the below grapes has its own strengths and weaknesses and, by blending them together, wines of complexity and depth can be created. This also means that wine making skill comes into play and on your visits to the various domains you get a range of wine philosophies and unique wines to taste. The most prestigious of the Southern Rhône’s appellations is Châteauneuf-du-Pape, "The Pope's new castle" in which blending is raised to an art form – the AOC rules permit up to 13 different varieties in the final blend, including a handful of white grapes. Its vineyards are bounded on the west by the Rhône and the east the A7 autoroute. In 1932, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first Appellation Contrôlée established in France and is famous for the small backed potato (galets roules), round rocks from the ancient river bed that are key to what makes Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines unique. The rocks reflect heat back into the vines at night thereby increasing ripeness and reducing acidity. The wines complexity which comes from the blending of the thirteen varieties -Grenache, Mouvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Vaccarese, Counoise, Teret Noir, Muscadin and Picpoul Noir, Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Rousanne, Picpoul Gris and Picardin. .For  Châteauneuf-du-Pape,  Grenache typically dominate, supported by Syrah and Mouvedre .

Syrah (Shiraz) Syrah is the internationally recognized mainstay of Rhone grapes, versatile for winemaking. In the North, at its best, used as a single varietal Syrah competes Cabernet and Pinot Noirs. As a blend ingredient , it contributes character and aging for wines of the Southern Rhone. Syrah reflects minerality well, and the chalky . tannins provide a wonderful backbone structure to softer, fruitier varietals such as Grenache and Counoise. It can give mid-palate richness to Mourvedre-based blends, and structure and tannin to Grenache-based wines. The Syrah grape itself is thick-skinned and dark, almost black. Its varietla wines are intense with a dark purple-black color. The wines taste of blackberry and currant fruit, black pepper and often smoke, tar. They have a smooth supple texture.

 Grenache One of the world’s most widely planted red grapes, largely in France and Spain. It has a spicy, berry-flavor and is smooth on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, It tends to lack acid, tannin and color, and is usually blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan and Cinsaut. Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines like in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is typically over 80% of the blend, also for Tavel rose.

Carignan The grape is responsible for untold millions of cases of jug wine from Southern France and California’s Central Valley. With mature vines, restricted yields, careful winemaking – it makes perfectly respectable wine and blended in moderation adds a fruit flavor as well as color and tannin to the mix.
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Cinsault A high-yielding, early-ripening, hot-weather red grape lowin tannin, generally used in blends.to add a spicy component. . .

 Counoise can be a key component of many Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines. It is a deep purple-red, and has a rich spicy character, with flavors of anise, strawberries and blueberries. Counoise’s moderate alcohol and tannins make it complement for Syrah, balancing that grape’s spice, strong tannins and high alcohol. 

 Mourvedre (Mataro) produces sturdy wines with good acid and astringency. In certain terroris it develops enticing blackberry aromas and flavors – produing strong intense wines that age well.

Vaccarèse (known in the village of Chusclan as Camarèse) is a minor varietal found primarily in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where it is considered a relative of Cinsault and produces floral, tannic wines.

The Classic  Rhone Red Wine Blends are:

 (1) The Chateauneuf styles: Start with usually half Grenache, add in proportion of Syrah and / or Mourvedre for strength and aging, and round out the complexity with an amazing array of other red and even white grapes.

(2) Warm-weather wines of Southern Rhone: Various proportions of Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, designed to produce early-drinking fruit driven, wines

(3) Catering to international popularity – a Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon blend in various proportions.

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Click on picture to go to the great Rhone Wine Trails. Where you meet experienced wine makers - "vignerons" -who  grow up learning wine making skills.