Wine 101 - Southern Rhone

A Handy Primer


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Wine 101 - Southern Rhone The main grape in the Southern Rhône is Grenache, followed by Syrah, Mourvèdre, and then Cinsaut. This is a land of blended wines; so getting to know the appellations is vital to understanding what is in each bottle. From lowly Côtes du Rhône to luxury cuvees of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, each of the wines of the South Rhône captures the warmth of this region and the slightly rustic edge that has set these wines apart for centuries. What follows is a brief guide to the appellations of the Southern Rhône, with a brief description of each. 


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  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,996

    Good cataloging, Greg. After wading through it in its entirety, I did find myself having developed a thirst, that needed to be slaked by a good Costières de Nîmes red....

    Oct 12, 2010 at 4:11 PM

  • Snooth User: jron
    473615 1

    Not being a French language expert, I came to believe that the proper translation was "the ninth chateau of the Pope" just like pontneuf is the ninth bridge across the river in Paris?

    Oct 12, 2010 at 5:31 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    I was under the same impression for years, Seems like it's the ninth house but I've been corrected so many times I finally relented!

    Oct 12, 2010 at 5:37 PM

  • Snooth User: Citroes
    477312 2

    Love the articles! One thing though - I was under the impression that there are 13 varieties allowed, not 18? Are you sure about your facts?

    Oct 12, 2010 at 6:05 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    As of 2009 it is 18, primarily due to the fact that the regulations no longer stipulate what can be added to White vs. Red Chateaunuef, but they now also recognize each of the three Grenaches separately and have recognized additional clones of Calirette (Clairette Rose) and Piquepoul (Piquepoul Gris)

    Oct 12, 2010 at 6:20 PM

  • If you ever get a chance, stop in at the Maison du Vin in the village of Gigondas. They have over 80 Gigondas' to taste for free. I had already been to four domaines by the time I wandered into the Maison, so I had to focus, focus, focus, like a kid in a candy store. The quality of the wines I tasted was consistently high and (in 2005) the price ranged from 12 to 18 Euros/bottle.

    Oct 12, 2010 at 8:04 PM

  • I have a quick question. What do people mean when they say a wine is a "baby" Chateauneuf du pape? I have also heard someone call Grenache a "baby" grape too. Do you have any idea what that means?

    Oct 12, 2010 at 11:15 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,996

    Shellabelle, are they talking about a Cotes du Rhone that is good as a Chateauneuf du Pape, even though it's not classified as such?

    Oct 12, 2010 at 11:28 PM

  • Snooth User: dirkwdeyoung
    Hand of Snooth
    231231 328

    I like this article, should be really useful for many people who perhaps haven't ventured into this zone. What I have told some people in the past, is that if you want a no hassle wine to please everybody, then serve a nice CNdPape. I have found some nice budget wines from Costieres de Nimes, good price/over quality relationship. In general this area is a paradise, do people really get to live there?

    Oct 12, 2010 at 11:50 PM

  • Snooth User: cigarman168
    Hand of Snooth
    227923 333

    The White from Rhone is quite unique in taste from other region. Can talk more.

    Oct 13, 2010 at 12:17 AM

  • Snooth User: PDevaux
    609724 1

    What a strange coincidence: I'm working the harvest at a NorCal winery and have been keeping a blog for friends & family. At 1:17 pm PDT I posted an entry about Grenache and Chateauneuf du Pape (see At 2:04 pm PDT, the Snooth newsletter landed in my inbox w/ roughly the same content. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say Gregory's ripping me off! ;-)

    As for the folks that think it's "the ninth chateau of the pope", it's a good guess but incorrect. Neuf means both "new" and "nine" in French. In this case, it means "new" because the current structure in Avignon was an addition to the old chateau (added around 1334).

    Oct 13, 2010 at 2:17 AM

  • I am not sure what they were referring to. I heard Gary on winelibrary call a wine that too...

    Oct 13, 2010 at 5:12 PM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Papal history: Avignon was THE seat of the papacy from 1305 until 1378. Pope Clement V refused to move to Rome because of civil unrest there and moved the church. Seven legitimate popes sat in Avignon until 1378. It was not the summer home. Undoubtedly the pope had other properties, but Avignon was, for all purposes, the "new Vatican" (or "new chateau," hence the name) during that time. Basic fact of history, and intertwined with the wine--it was Clement and his successors who took an interest in improving the wines of the region. Although there is a "palais neuf" (Clement lived in an existing monastery, and construction began later on the famous Palais des Papes) and a "palais vieux" they have nothing to do with the name of the appellation. Construction of the palais did not begin until 1335 and continued to 1364. I was last in Avignon over 20 years ago, but virtually all this history can be found with 5 minutes of research and is well known.

    Oct 14, 2010 at 3:49 PM

  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,575

    PDevaux - thats pretty funny, but the emails are typically written several days in advance, and now we're mailing over 250,000 of them each day, the mail servers typically send them across several hours. I received mine about 3 hours before you. I'm snooth user #1, so I get the mail first ;)

    Oct 17, 2010 at 3:46 PM

  • Snooth User: dd99
    615591 1

    Re: Neuf. This is the word for "new" (it is neuve for feminine, and neufs/neuves for the plurals). It is also the word for "nine", similar to the way Too, To, and Two work in English. So this is the New Castle of the Pope; the old one was in Rome. The Pont Neuf in Paris is the New Bridge, which it was in about 1650 or so, and it retains the name to this day (the artist Christo famously wrapped it a few years ago while we were visiting).

    Oct 19, 2010 at 12:24 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,996

    I don't know how much you've discussed this in the Snooth offices, but to keep information posted in these articles in proper context, you should stamp a date on them showing when they were first published....

    Oct 25, 2010 at 6:26 PM

  • I'm afraid that very good Chat Du Pape, although gorgeous,is above my price range at this present time. I have found the reds of Costieres de Nimes to be an excellent substitute when times are hard!

    Oct 29, 2010 at 10:16 AM

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