A visit to the Rhône valley and a glimpse into the marvels of the region and it’s profoundly good wines
In this episode we tour the Rhône valley in search of the secrets to its greatest wines and its lesser-known treasures. We come in at 30,000 feet and view the geography and ancient geology in overview to understand what created the geological raw material for these wonderful wines. Then we zoom in and visit the regions, admiring the spectacular settings where the iconic (and iconically-priced!) great Syrah wines of the Northern Rhône are grown in places like Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage and St. Joseph. And where the amazing white wines of Condrieu are grown. These are places where the vineyards are steeped in long family history and where traditional methods such as tilling the land with horses mix together with the next generation of young winemakers with immense passion to apply modern wine-making practices.
From the Northern Rhône we then go to our true destination, the confusing maze of appellations, sub-appellations and sub-sub-appellations of the Southern Rhône. This is where tremendous quality meets the average person’s budget, where wines of tremendous character and distinction can be discovered and become new personal favourites. But there is a catch – you have to do a bit of research and find the hidden gems, particularly among the winemakers in wine regions that haven’t yet built a name that attracts the collectors. It’s not that hard to do, you just have to look a little bit off the beaten track. Sure, you may find some wines in Gigondas and Châteaneuf-du-Pape that are within your budget – and these are stellar wine regions. Drink away! But their next-door neighbours might just blow your socks off for half or a quarter of the price. For example, try the wines of Chateau Pesquié in Ventoux. For $20 you will find collector quality wine. Or try the treasures from the Vacqueyras and Rasteau appellations that the Famille Perrin is producing.
But beware – you will have to spend a bit of nerdy time thinking about the difference between appellations of the Côtes du Rhône or Côtes du Rhône Villages – or those completely outside of the Côtes du Rhône. Open up the map in the show notes to this episode or open up the fantastic www.rhone-wines.com website and follow along as we explore this most fascinating of wine regions. And after you listen to The Wine Beat podcast, just go there and tour and drink the wines!
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