The more than 800 km long Rhone is one of the most important wine rivers in the world. Like everyone waters it has a positive effect on viticulture or creates the conditions for this by forming sometimes very steep valley slopes. The river rises on the Furka Pass as a glacier stream in the Swiss Uri Alps, flows through the canton under the name Rotten Wallis and Lake Geneva, crosses the French border, turns south from Lyon and flows south of Arles-sur-Rhône into the Mediterranean. The Greeks founded in the 6th century BC Chr. The city of Marseille (Massilia) located at the mouth of the Rhone and brought the grapevine in the valley. Also the Celts (Gauls) already practiced viticulture in today's two appellations Côte Rôtie and Hermitage (Crozes-Hermitage). They supposedly taught the Romans the art of finishing the vines.
The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (23-79) reports of a grape variety Allobrogica, which was allegedly cultivated here by the Allobroger Celtic tribe. At the beginning of the second century, the area became part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. Roman viticulture attests to many finds from amphorae, Statues of the wine god Bacchus and mosaics with wine motifs. Many exhibits are exhibited in the "Musée de la Civilization Gallo-Romaine" in Lyon. At the beginning of the 14th century the papal court was moved to Avignon, from 1309 to 1377 seven recognized popes ruled here. This gave a strong impetus to viticulture, because the majority of the wine on the papal table came from the Rhône Valley. The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape was derived from the castle Pope John XXII. (1245-1334), which he had built as a summer residence north of Avignon.
The Rhône or “La Vallée du Rhône” wine-growing region is understood to mean the approximately 200-kilometer route from Lyon to the south to Avignon in south-eastern France. On both sides of the Rhône and its tributaries are around 80,000 hectares of vineyards that span the six departments Ardèche. Drôme. Gard, Loire, Rhone and Vaucluse are distributed. But only a small area in the far north is in the Rhône department, and surprisingly, this comes from 70% of the production of the northern neighbor Burgundy, The Rhône runs parallel to the for over 150 kilometers Loire, which gave the region to the east its name. The two rivers are only about 50 kilometers apart on this route, but flow in the opposite direction.
The elongated wine-growing region is divided into "Rhône Septentrional" (septentrional = north) and "Rhône Méridional" (méridional = south). The two sections are very different in terms of climate, soil and grape varieties. However, both have in common the Mistral, a cold and dry north wind, for the defense of which many vineyards are lined with cypresses and poplars. The wines from the left (east) bank are generally considered to be heavier and more alcoholic. Overall, over 90% red wines are produced in the region by almost 6,000 companies, the rest are rosé and in only a very small amount white wines.
The northern section begins at the city of Vienne, near which the three appellations Château-Grillet. Condrieu and Côte Rôtie lie. It extends straight south to the city of Valence with the appellations located here Cornas and Saint-Péray, The climate is continental, the floors mostly consist of slate and granite. The vineyards are often extremely steep terraced Hang up to 65 ° (214%) Tilt, They count among the sub-areas steepest vineyards Europe. The Romans had their slaves manage the extremely laborious cultivation. Dominates here Syrah, which is the only red vine approved. The main types of white wine are Marsanne. Roussanne and Viognier, For the most part, dark and tanninreiche Red wines are also produced in large quantities by type. These are often classic, that is, less developed in new oak. Less than 10% of the wine is produced in the northern section.
Further south, there is a gap of around 50 kilometers in the course of the river without viticulture or vineyards. However, further east there is an area on the Rhône tributary, sometimes called the middle section Drôme, Here are the four appellations, each named after municipalities Chatillon-en-Diois. Clairette de Die. Coteaux de Die and Crémant de Die with an already very old sparkling wine production.
The southern section begins at Montélimar and extends south to Avignon in the Vaucluse department. The climate is Mediterranean compared to the northern section, the soils largely consist of limestone subsoil interspersed with clay. Here are many Winzergenossenschaften that produce around two thirds of the volume. Here too, mainly red wines are produced, the most important being Grenache Noir ( Garnacha Tinta ). However, around 20 different grape varieties are permitted, many of which cuvées with different wine styles. Other red wine varieties are Carignan Noir. Cinsault. Mourvèdre and increasingly like in the northern section Syrah, The typical blend here is called Rhône Recipe designated.
The southern section is from the regional appellation Cotes du Rhone (which also includes smaller areas in the northern section) as well as the class located exclusively here Cotes du Rhone-Villages dominated. A specialty is the area that is exclusively approved for rose wines Tavel, In the fields of Beaumes-de-Venise and Rasteau become sweet Vin doux naturel produced. There are somewhat remote appellations Cotes du Vivarais. Grignan-les-Adhémar. Luberon and Ventoux, The appellation lies to the very south Costieres de Nimes that are geographically related to Languedoc, but legally belongs to the Rhône. This group is also known as the "Nouvelle École de la Vallée du Rhône" (New School of the Rhone Valley). A total of 16 areas have the regional status "Cru", which means the rank of a Rhône top appellation. In a broader sense, they are part of the Côtes du Rhône appellation, so on label additionally "Cru des Côtes du Rhône" listed. The Rhône appellations are: