The Rhône wine region, one of the most ancient vine growing areas, stretches along the Rhône River to the Mediterranean Sea in the southern part of France. Many oldest steeply-terraced vineyards in the country dot this area.
The Rhône Valley has a very strong identity. The powerful Rhône River, that lends its name to the region, nourishes and empowers this wine region and shapes its landscape and character. Indigenous grape varieties of the Rhône wine region, which are known as “Rhône Grapes” and terroirs together inspire the “Rhône-style wines”, which are favourite of wine-lovers around the world. This is what I meant with strong identity!
From Popes to This Day – Little Bit of History
The first cultivated vines in the Rhône valley were possibly planted around 600 BC. Syrah and Viognier are speculated to be the two most prominent grape varieties in the Northern Rhône. Some believe that Greeks brought the Syrah grape from the Persian city of Shiraz. Others say that the grape came from the Sicilian city of Syracuse, whence the Romans sail up the Rhône valley with Syrah and the Viognier grape.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Popes gave fresh impetus to a flourishing wine trade in the region. In 1737, the King announced that all casks for resale should have the brand name C.D.R. (Côtes du Rhône) Just over 100 years later, wines from other parts of the region were added to the C.D.R definition.
Rhône wine region is very good at branding. They even branded grape varieties, the indigenous grape varieties grown here are known as “Rhône grapes” and no matter of the origin, wines made from this grape can be called “Rhône style wines” internationally.
They are producing great-tasting red wines with fruity notes and spicy flavours.
Rhône wines start with red grapes! White wines are rare in the Rhône wine region. Over 95% of the valley’s vineyards produce flavorful and aromatic red wines.
The Northern Rhône Reds are bold and spicy wines with rigid tannic construction. Syrah and Grenache dominate Rhône red wines. Grenache inspires the Southern Rhône red blends that have warm, red fruit flavours.
Where to taste wines in Rhône wine region
If you are planning your wine trip to Rhône wine region, we can recommend you to visit:
Two Subregions, Ten Appellation and Five Grape Varieties
Usually, Rhône reds contain Syrah and Grenache. Other red Rhône varietals are Mourvedre, Counoise, and Cinsault. Expect a candid flavour and aroma that you’ll never forget. Indeed, Rhône whites feature a variety of flavours according to the dominant grape.
The most common white Rhône varietals are Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and Clairette Blanche.
5 main grapes of Rhône:
Some think that Rhône wines are light, but one sip of Cornas Syrah will make you think the opposite. In fact, Rhône wines display an intense power or elegant restraint depending on the blend and where the grapes are from.
The northern region of Rhône has a cooler climate because of the mistral wind that blows through the area. This region accounts for a very small percentage of total Rhône wine production. However, the Northern Rhône produces the most exclusive wines.
Syrah is the only allowed grape variety here. But, most of the AOCs allow a small amount of Marsanne or Rousanne in the blend. Cornas AOC is the exception, where any red wine must be 100% Syrah.
The Southern Rhône wine region benefits from a modern Mediterranean climate. It has warmer summers and milder winters. The south region boasts an amazing variety of grapes. Two categories of wine are ‘Left’ and ‘Right’, which actually refers to the banks of the Rhône River.
The left category features bigger wines with fuller and fruitier flavours. The Southern boasts a wealth of appellations that stretch from either side of the river into the mountains and valleys.
From vibrant European cities to fairytale-like beautiful countryside, Rhône Valley is an idyllic region for wanderers. Rhône Valley is known as France’s heartland for heritage and gastronomy. Limestone hills and forests add a captivating charm to the countryside. Besides the world’s wonderful wines, the fertile Rhône Valley is home to free-range poultry farms, chestnut orchards, and lentil fields. Explore the Rhône through its popular cities, vineyard and villages.
Vienne A Historian’s Paradise in France
This laid-back riverfront city presents France’s Gallo-Roman heritage alive. Here, you can walk through the narrow streets and visit the well-preserved ancient monuments. Every street takes you to another austere Roman ruin, ancient churches, or Instagram-worthy glimpse of sloped roofs and crumbling walls.
However, the historic Vienne city offers much more than just art and history! Jazz lovers will be delighted to attend Vienne Jazz Festival in a prestigious Roman theatre, the vast 1st-century AD Théâtre Antique. The event takes place every first fortnight in July.
two must-visit attractions in Vienne: The imposing temple of Augustus and Livia built in 1BC, and the Garden of Cybele with its Gallo-Roman archaeological remains are
Lyon – The First French City for the Quality of Life
A long history of superb cooks is what makes Lyonnais proud about their beautiful city.
Legendary food aside, this UNESCO site is also the hometown of cinema. The city was once a leader in the silk trade. A series of extraordinary large murals painted around the city tell about the Lyon’s neighbourhoods and most famous people.
Overall, the city has a dynamic cultural life, busy clubbing scenes, outstanding museums, and fantastic shopping destinations. Adventurous food lovers can have their wildest gastronomic fantasies. Don’t leave the city without sampling the charmingly rowdy, rough and tumble bouchons – the quintessential Lyon experience.
Grenoble – City that Attracts Ski Enthusiasts and History Buffs
Grenoble is the place where breathtaking natural beauty and city pleasures unite. Every street leads out to a different regional park. The Rhône River divides the city, girding the clifftop La Bastille and a marvellous collection of riverside museums. Grenoble fizzes are lined with eateries, cafes, excellent galleries, and shops.
Grenoble is the birthplace of the great novelist Henri Beyle, known for The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. Native Grenoblois will definitely surprise you with their down-home friendliness.
Valence – The Gateway to the South of France
Valence is a popular destination for wine lovers.
Built over several terraces, the city of Valence has benefited from its proximity to the vineyards in the Rhône wine region. With its warm weather, relaxed atmosphere and generous cuisines, Valence calls itself as the northern gateway to Provence. The much-loved Kiosk De Peynet on the Champ de Mars is a great place to start your travel around Valence. Don’t forget to visit the Maison des Têtes, Church of Saint-Jean, and Dupré-Latour mansion to explore some interesting architectural masterpieces.
What does Rhône Valley Food Tastes Like?
Coq Au Vin (Rooster/Cock With Wine)
The recipe of Coq au vin uses chicken braised with red Burgundy wine, mushrooms, lardons, and garlic.
Historians trace this traditional Rhône dish to ancient Gaul and Julius Caesar. However, the recipe was not documented until the early 20th century. Earlier, it was famous as a rustic dish. Julia Child included coq au vin in her 1961 cookbook – Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
Wine pair: Southern Rhône or Languedoc red makes the best wine pairing with Coq Au Vin.
La Quenelle Financière
This authentic Fresh dish uses the famous Bresse chicken. Bresse chicken is known as the queen of poultry, the poultry of kings! Bresse city in the north of Rhône raises this high-quality chicken. La Quenelle Financière uses the chicken kidney, eggs, and is formed into quenelle shapes. When you eat La Quenelle Financière, enjoy the treat even more by having Marsanne or Rousanne Blends.
The name of this French dish received its name from the tasty cheese from Switzerland. The Rhône-Alpes raclette is one of the simplest and tastiest cheese dishes. It’s a classic of the French gastronomy. It’s a perfect wintry treat. People love to enjoy this appetising dish with a Viognier white wine and almost all red wines.
This worldwide famous, mouth-watering dish uses processed cheese, potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, Bayonne or Parma ham, etc.
Brioche with pink Praline
It is thanks to a confectioner of Saint Genis that we can eat a pink praline. In fact, in 1860, the inhabitants of Lyon have seized the recipe to cook a delicious brioche praline. It is now famous in the region, and you can enjoy it in many bakeries but also in shops specially dedicated to this wonderful brioche.
Bellow, you will find more information about tourism in the region :