Everything You Need to Know About Northern Cote du Rhone

Northern Cote du Rhone is widely regarded as one of the best wine regions in France, yet it’s never been widely distributed internationally. This region was previously named Southern Cote du Rhone before changing its name to Northern Cote du Rhone in 1998 to distinguish it from the better-known Southern Cote du Rhone wine region.

In contrast with Southern Rhone, Northern Rhone is much smaller at 2,836 hectares. The area starts in the north, in Ampuis, roughly 30 kilometers south of Lyon, and ends in Valance, around 90 kilometers south.

To put that into perspective, Chateauneuf du Pape is more modest than the whole Northern Rhone Valley, and yet the plants in Southern Rhone produce 95% of all the wine in the Rhone Valley. The Northern Rhone Valley delivers only 5% of the Rhone’s overall wine yield. [1]

The Vineyards Produce High-Quality Wines

France produces a tremendous amount of wine each year, most of it being consumed locally in French restaurants and homes. You may be surprised to learn that only about 10% of French wine is exported. Northern Cote du Rhone is made from predominantly Grenache grapes, common throughout France. If you like European wines and want to explore beyond traditional regions (Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc.), give Northern Cote du Rhone a try.

Northern Cote du Rhone Encompasses 4 Appellations

St. Joseph, Ardeche, Cote Rotie and Chateau Grillet comprise Northern Cote du Rhone. The wine is almost always made from a blend of Syrah and Grenache, but smaller appellations such as Crozes-Hermitage can also be included in small amounts. Northern Rhone wines are full-bodied, rich, and delicious but relatively inexpensive compared to other regions such as Bordeaux or Burgundy.[2]

The wines produced in this area are marked by light fruit flavors and delicate, earthy tones.

Climate and Soils

Northern Rhone wine region is warm and sunny, with a Mediterranean-like climate. The region’s soil is rich in minerals but chalky with very low organic matter. These characteristics help keep a wine dry and crisp. While Northern Rhone wines are mostly made from red grape varieties, Syrah (or Shiraz); it’s planted on around 70% of all hectares across about 95% of all vineyards in Northern Rhone.

Wines are Affordable

With bottles starting as low as $15, you will be sure to find a tasty wine you can afford. And if you’re looking for a quality red that won’t break your bank account, look no further than Northern Cote du Rhone.

Wines from this region are perfect for all occasions, from casual Friday night dinners to sipping at home on Saturday nights. It’s easy to drink; whether served alongside burgers or steak or enjoyed straight from a glass, these reds are incredibly approachable and ready to please any palate.

Wide Range of Styles Available

While some parts of France are famous for their purity of style (Bordeaux), others have more variety (Loire). Vintners typically choose what grapes they’ll use based on where they live. This means there’s plenty of scope for experimentation with flavors and tastes within one region. So while a Loire Valley Chardonnay will be very different from one in Bordeaux, both wines could still come from those regions.

Alcohol Levels Vary Throughout the Region

The average alcohol level for a region’s wines is usually specified as a percentage of volume. However, if you compare regions, it’s not uncommon to find that one area’s average contains more or less alcohol than another. For example, on average, Northern Cote du Rhone has higher levels of alcohol than some other areas in France.

Depending on your preferences, there are different reasons why you might prefer it: a touch more alcohol can make a wine seem smoother and warmer; in warmer climates (like much of Europe), extra alcohol helps keep an already-wine skinned wine fresher for longer. Or maybe you just love oaky flavors. The important thing is to know what you like before choosing a particular type of wine.

The Grape Varieties Used

While Pinot Noir is perhaps the most highly revered among red grapes, Northern Cote du Rhone is comprised mainly of Grenache (known as Garnacha in Spain). The grape has a long history of cultivation, with evidence showing that it was grown nearly 4,000 years ago. It does tend to ripen early, generally between late August and September.

In cooler years, when it doesn’t fully ripen or isn’t produced in large enough quantities, the resulting wines can be relatively thin-bodied and flat. However, when conditions are right, and yields are reasonable (producing about 1.3 tons per acre), Grenache can produce some delicious wines with lots of flavors and structure.

Exciting Things Happening in This Region

The region is one of France’s greatest wine treasures, but it remains relatively under the radar. But those who have discovered its myriad charms know that they have found something truly special. It is a place where ambition meets traditional values and passion runs through every vine. See more articles here

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References

[1] https://www.thewinesociety.com/discover/explore/regional-guides/rhone-ultimate-guide

2 https://vinepair.com/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-cotes-du-rhone/

3 https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/northern-rhone-wine-producers-cote-rotie-hermitage/

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