The Rhône – North vs. South
I love the wines from France’s Rhône region. What’s the difference between the juice from the southern and northern parts of the valley?
I share your love. France took it on the chin the hardest when the initial wave of New World wines hit shore and, unlike Italy and Spain, has struggled to find the momentum to support a major comeback ever since.
The Rhône Valley has been the one bright light. Renowned for some masterful blending techniques that create undeniably drinkable wines, the region has become the gateway back to France for a whole new generation of oenophiles.
As you mention, it’s considered the sum of two parts: The northern Rhône and the southern Rhône. While climate certainly differentiates one from the other (continental in the north and Mediterranean in the south), the grape focus of each really defines their individuality.
The north is the home of Syrah (a red grape you may also know by the name Shiraz), which gives its wines darker, more brooding personalities. While Syrah is big in the south as well, the fruit-forward Grenache leads the way where it is blended with a cornucopia of other indigenous grapes. Need an example? Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the south’s most famous son, is a mega combination of up to 19 different grapes. Vive la France!