There’s no place like Rhône: Côtes du Rhône Wines

Côtes du Rhône is an important geographical wine-growing region located within the Rhône Valley in Southern France. Established by the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Rhône Valley is divided into Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône where the vineyards share the Rhône River. However, both have widely different geography, climate, soils and grape varieties.

Northern and Southern Rhône

The Northern Rhône produces only 4% - 5% of wines in the region. It has a continental climate— hot summers and cold winters but is generally cooler than the South because of the influence of the Alps. With steep hillsides and granite soil, Northern Rhône’s vineyards are terraced to protect from soil erosion. The grape varieties produced on this side of the valley are Syrah for red wine and Viognier for white.

The Southern Rhône, on the other hand, produces most of the region’s wines. It has a Mediterranean climate— long summers and mild winters but is barely protected from the mistral winds, a harsh and destructive wind blowing from the Northern seas. However, the mistral winds are also responsible for giving their grape varieties a unique flavour. Their soil composition consists of an alkaline base and organic debris. The south is known for blending grapes such as Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre for red wine, and Grenache blanc, Rousanne and Marsanne for white. 

Côtes du Rhône Wines

Here are three  essential things you should know about Côtes du Rhône wines:

    • Côtes du Rhône is divided into four quality levels that determine the value (price) and consistency of the wine. Regardless of the price and level, all Côtes du Rhône wines are considered the best quality.
        • Côtes du Rhône AOC

          This is the entry-level classification. They produce about 50% - 60% of the region’s wines that can be made from 21 grape varieties, mostly red blends.

        • Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC

          They have stricter winemaking rules which make this level superior to
          Côtes du Rhône AOC. Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC, composed of 95 villages around Avignon and Oranges, produces 12% of Rhône Valley’s wine production, with mostly red, 3% white and 1% rosé.

        • Côtes du Rhône Villages with Geographical Names

          Twenty-one villages are allowed to declare their names on the label: Rousset-Les-Vignes, Saint-Pantaléon-Les-Vignes, Valréas, Visan, Saint-Maurice, Rochegude, Roaix, Séguret, Sablet, Saint-Gervais, Chusclan, Laudun, Massif d'Uchaux, Plan de Dieu, Puyméras, Signargues, Gadagne, Sainte-Cécile, Suze-la-Rousse and Vaison-la-Romaine.

        • The Crus

          The Crus have the highest quality level because they are recognised for having the best vineyards. The Crus consists of 8 north villages: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Château-Grillet, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and Saint-Péray; and 9 from the south: Vinsobres, Rasteau, Cairanne, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Beaumes-de-Venise, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Lirac.

    • There are six types of wines in Northern Rhône. These are:
        • Côte Rôtie

          Côte Rôtie, which means “roasted slope”, is made from Syrah. This wine is expensive and has distinct notes of raspberry, violet, truffles and chocolate.
          • Condrieu

            Only ​​Viognier grapes are used in this white wine. It has notes of honey, apricot and floral notes.
            • Cornas

              Cornas is aged from seven to ten years giving its leathery and earthy savour.
              • Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage

                These three wines use very high-quality Syrah, Marsanne and Rousanne.

          • Côtes du Rhônes has 23 grape varieties to produce red, white and rosé wines
              • Key red varieties: Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picpoul Noir, Terret Noir
                • Key white varieties: Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Bourboulenc, Picpoul Blanc, Picardan, Muscat-Blanc

            Louis Max 'Max' Cotes-du-Rhone Grenache-Syrah 2018

            Louis Max Cotes-du-Rhone Grenache-Syrah 2018 is now part of Popsy & JJ’s exciting wine collection. Genuinely produced in Rhône Valley, this exquisite Louis Max wine is made from Syrah and Grenache blend. It has a bold and dry taste with smooth and balanced acidity, and notes of blueberry, cherry and cinnamon.  Louis Max Cotes-du-Rhone Grenache-Syrah 2018 can be paired best with beef, lamb, deer or venison dishes. 

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