In yesterday’s Tip of the Day, we explained that the Northern Rhone produces most of the top wines in the Rhone Valley region. Today let’s focus on some of the most famous appellations in the North Rhone.
Situated in the far north of the Rhone Valley, Cote-Rotie, meaning “the roasted slope”, owns some of the steepest vine-growing slopes in France. Most of these slopes face the south east, maximizing the sunshine while avoiding the strong wind.
Although these slopes are very difficult to work on, they are responsible for the finest and most elegant Syrah produced in the North Rhone. An increasingly fashionable blend is Syrah and up to 20% Viognier.
The small appellation to the south of Cote-Rotie — Condrieu, and the eponymous Château Grillet AC, are home to the highly aromatic, powerful white grape variety Viognier.
Small yields and constant care required during the production means that this fashionable white is usually sold at a premium price.
Hermitage is perhaps the most famous appellation in the Northern Rhone. The limited vineyards and small yields didn’t stop Hermitage from producing two of the best quality wines in France – the red and white Hermitage.
The red Hermitage is made fully with Syrah, and for that Hermitage is rightfully the cradle of this variety. It is full-bodied and highly aromatic, with excellent aging potential for up to 50 years or longer, which can be mistaken for the best red Bordeaux.
White Hermitage accounts for about a fifth of the production in Hermitage. It is made using two of the Rhone Valley trio — predominantly Marsanne, and with less Roussanne. Like the red Hermitage, this is also a full-bodied, long-lived wine with great potential to develop.
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