Yapp Brothers Guide to Rhône wine
Outwit wine buffs with your in-depth knowledge of the Rhône.
Everything you need to know about the wines of the Rhône valley from the Northern Rhône via the Ardèche, Côtes du Rhône and the Southern Rhône.
From its source in the Swiss Alps, the mighty Rhône hurtles south through the steep-sided terraces south of Lyon, through to the flatter, hotter landscape around Avignon and thence to the Camargue estuary. There is a clear transition in both the wines (single-variety, low-yields in the North; blending and bigger volumes in the South) and the food (cooking with butter in the North, olive oil down South) as one travels from a continental climate to Provence. Wine production dates back to Roman times, but is now dominated by red (75%), with increasing quantities of rosé (16%) and white (9%). The UK vies with Belgium as its largest export market – we love it!
How big is the Rhône valley?
67,000 hectares – it is France's 2nd largest AOC wine area and includes (mainly in the Southern Rhône), the appellation of Côtes du Rhône.
What are the different wine appellations in the Rhône?
Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Château Grillet, Cornas, Hermitage, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Côtes-du-Rhône, Costières de Nîmes.
What grape varieties are used to make Rhône wines?
Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan.
Which are the best Rhône producers?
Notable domaines include Guigal, Vernay, Chave, Chapoutier, Clape, Perrin, Reynaud.
What food pairings go well with wines from the Rhône & Côtes du Rhône?
Quenelle de brochet (pike dumplings), Saint Marcellin (cheese), truffles, nougat (in Montélimar), salade Lyonnaise, Valhrona chocolate (Tain).
Which are the best restaurants in the Rhône valley?
We like Pyramide (Vienne), Pic (Valence), Le Mangevins (Tain L'Hermitage), Le Chaudron (Tournon), Le Beaugravière (Mondragon), Le Beau Rivage (Condrieu), La Mère Germaine (Châteauneuf').
Famous people from the Rhône valley:
The Pope (ok; when in exile), aviator Antoine St-Exupèry, chef Paul Bocuse, electro pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre, 'rugby man' Sebastien Chabal (Valence).
What are the best things to do in the Rhône valley?
Visit the Roman amphitheatre in Orange; dance 'sur le pont d'Avignon' during the music festival; kayak down the Ardèche; cycle up Mont Ventoux; visit the 'bouchons' of Lyon then explore the labyrinth of 'traboules' (ancient network of alleyways built by silk workers); visit the phenomenal shoe museum in Romans-sur-Isère.
Our favourite Rhône wine - Bien classique:
Crozes Hermitage Rouge: 'Alain Graillot'.
Our favourite Rhône wine - Autre chose:
Saint Péray 'Nature': J-L Thiers.