Syrah, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes, 2016

  André Perret

Contains Sulphites.

Appellation: Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes

Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes is the IGP title for red, white and rosé wines from an area which essentially corresponds to the northern Rhône Valley wine region of eastern France. The catchment area for this title stretches from Lyon in the north to Montélimar in the south. The area is also home to some of southern France's most famous AOC appellations, including Côte Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage.

The landscape of the Collines Rhodaniennes is characterized by the hills and valleys that surround the Rhône river. The Massif Central lies to the west and the embryonic foothills of the Alps to the east. The Rhône river carving its way through the sandstone, limestone and granite between them.

The presence of these different stone types is reflected in the route of the Rhône. Sandstone and limestone provide less resistance than granite, which visibly alters the path of the river. The bend around the granite hill of Hermitage is a prime example of this.

This topography – and the geology that created it – makes for a complex patchwork of terroirs. The local continental climate means warm, dry summers and cold winters, influenced by the strong winds, such as the Mistral. This bowls down the Rhône at speeds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (55mph). Some diurnal temperature variation in the north of the area contributes to the balanced aromatics in the wines made there, and temperatures in the sunny south are cooled by the winds.

The Collines Rhodaniennes IGP denomination is widely used by producers in the region, often alongside AOC-classified wines in portfolios. The IGP offers growers a larger production area than those of the small, high-quality AOC titles here. It also provides more freedom when it comes to winemaking methods and grape variety selections.

Unsurprisingly, given the area from which it comes, a large proportion of Collines Rhodaniennes IGP wine is made from the key northern Rhône grape varieties. Syrah is widely planted here and is often complemented with a small addition of Viognier (the classic Côte Rôtie blend).

Gamay also plays an important role. It is not a variety associated with Northern Rhône AOPs, but its use in IGP wines reflects the relative proximity to Beaujolais to the north. Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon complete the "international" grape repertoire, borrowed from Burgundy and Bordeaux respectively.

The white wines (which have a much smaller representation than the reds) are dominated by the key Rhône varieties Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Jacquère, the white specialty grape of Savoie, makes an appearance exclusively in the Collines Rhodaniennes wines made in the Isère department.

Grape Type: Syrah/Shiraz

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.