Rhône

Grape Types

Gamay is found in the Beaujolais where, on granite slopes, it makes wine that cannot be reproduced anywhere else in the world. Thanks to poor winemaking over the last decade and the Beaujolais Nouveau stigma, Gamay has experienced a dip in popularity of late. Unjustly so, for it can produce wines brimming with juicy fruit, and is perfect slightly chilled and drunk alfresco. Gamay is also found in the Loire and in Burgundy, forming a partnership with Pinot Noir to make Bourgogne Passetoutgrains
One of the world's most widely planted grapes, Grenache is a quintessentially Mediterranean red variety which does best as a low yielding bush vine. It produces warm spicy sloe fruit-dominated wines whose ultimate expression is in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the surrounding southern villages. Excellent results can also be found in the Roussillon, parts of the Languedoc, the Vales near Adelaide, and Spain where it is known as Garnacha.
Grenache Blanc is the white form of Grenache, and is planted in Southern France. Adding richness and weight, it is often blended with Viognier, Marsanne and Roussane. It is one of the permitted varieties in white Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
This is a quintessential northern Rhône grape variety, producing full bodied, nutty wines with relatively low acidity. Often blended with the fresher Roussanne to make the dry whites of Crozes Hermitage, St Joseph, Côtes du Rhône and at its best, the rare white Hermitage. It is becoming increasingly popular in the south of France as a blender, on its own as an early drinking Vin de Pays single varietal, as well as in Australia’s Goulburn Valley and California.
A noble white Rhône grape variety blended with Marsanne to produce Crozes-Hermitage, St Joseph and Hermitage, as well as being a component of white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The grape can make wines that boast extraordinary class, finesse, with fine acidity demonstrating greengage fruit characteristics. Usually unoaked, Roussanne can support some barrel ageing but only when the wood is old. Found rarely on its own the most famous example is the glorious, long-lived Roussanne Vielles Vignes of Beaucastel.
The great red grape of the northern Rhône where it reaches its optimum levels in the violet-scented muscular wines of Hermitage and the graceful sappy Côte Rôties, which in the latter case is sometimes blended with Viognier. The wines of Cornas are renowned as producing Syrah-based wines very close in quality to Hermitage, while St Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage also represent some good value examples. It is also a component of many southern Rhône reds, namely Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. As Shiraz, it is Australia's most important red variety, found in various guises from ripe fruit-forward commercial wines to intense concentrated old vine cuvees such as Grange and those of Clarendon Hills. In the best instances Syrah/Shiraz produces deep, spicy, age-worthy wines.
Most famous for the unique Condrieu wines of the Northern Rhone, the best exponents being Andre Perret, Francois Villard, Clusel-Roch and Rene Rostaing, Viognier is a white grape variety widely planted in Southern France for varietal Vin de Pays wines or to use in blends. It is now also being grown in Australia and California for blending with Syrah in deference to the practices in Cote Rotie, where up to 20% of Viognier is allowed to be added to Syrah to add an extra perfume to the wine.