Northern Rhone

 

Location & Climate

The Northern Rhone wine growing area is a 72km strip and  begins 32km South of Lyon with the starting point near Vienne. 

 

5% of production is Cotes du Rhone 

 

4% of the total production for the whole Rhone valley region

 

 

Climate - Continental 

 

Springs

 

can either be wet and foggy with potential frost or sunny and dry 

 

Potential Hazards 

 

Fog causes problems in the vineyard  

- encourage molds and mildews 

 

Frost can kill budding fruit

 

Cool temperatures during spring at Bud break can decrease yields, the French term for this is "Coulure" 

 

Mistral - powerful winds sweeping through can blow of grapes, leaves, branches and even pull up an entire vine 

 

For the reasons noted above the best plots of land are South-Facing

 

Summer 

 

Plenty of heat and sun in the summer time 

 

On average 2,100 hours of sunshine per year and in Southern Rhone 2,700 hours 

 

The sun does not bake the fruit but ripens the grapes, they achieve ripe fruit flavours with a little sweetness. 

 

Autumn

 

Bad years - Dry and windy with a possible risk of hail storms  

 

Good years, thankfully these occur more often - The conditions are Warm, sunny and dry. Perfect conditions allowing for a dry harvest with little to no disease risk.

 

Early ripening varieties like Syrah and Vionier are planted because the time period of ideal ripening conditions is much shorter then the south

 

Winters 

 

Cold with a little bit of light snow fall. 

The vines in Northern Rhone are able to undergo true dormancy

 

 

Geology

Sub Soil - Granite, majority of vineyards

 

Fine Topsoil - decomposed cyrstalline mica-shist & granitic sands 

 

Crozes-Hermitage - calcareous soils mixed with galets (large rocks)

 

Stony soils, more common in Southern Rhone - retain heat from during the day and warm the vine through the evening and night keeping temperatures above that 10degrees mark so photosyntesis can still do its magic 

 

Clay soil - create age worthy red wine although do not retain heat however they are great soils for retaining water for those thirsty vines 

 

Pure sand and Clay soil - partner well with White grapes 

Topography

Vineyards flank the Rhone River, the river that flows through the entire region.

 

The vines cling to the slopes "cotes" 

 

The Romans are responsible for building terraces. They did this to stop slope wash and to create easier labour conditions for themselves. 

 

Grapes of the North

RED 

 

Syrah - all Reds are produced in a dry style with structured tannins. Age worthy wines expressing their terrior in some cases the wine can be meaty, gamey with leathery aromas 

 

WHITE 

 

Viognier 

 

Marsanne

 

Rousanne 

 

These white grapes can be blended into the Syrah in very small percentages, most commonly Viognier. The White grape is added to the blend to contribute floral aromas and help to soften the tannin.  

 

A small % of Sparkling wine is produced. 

 

Very small % of Late harvest and in some years botrytised Viognier. If the wine is produced it is very unlikely to even make it out of the France. 

 

Marsanne & Rousanne planted in Condreiu and Hermitage and used to produce a Vin de Paille, sweet wine produced by laying grapes on straw mats for at least 45 days to dry. The process of drying the grapes concentrates the sugars creating a naturally sweet wine

 

Viticulture

The rain throughout the year wahses the galet stones to the bottom of the hill. Every year after harvest vineyard worker collect the vineyards topsoil from the bottom and place it back on the slope. This applies for almost all un-terraced vinyards 

 

 

Traditional Trellising 

 

2 vines in the centre of 2-3 stakes forming a trianglur shape. This formation is known as "Echalas"

 

Provides support the vines whilst being blown by those harsh mistral winds. 

 

Hand harvesting is most common due to the danger of machinery on the steep slopes

Galet (stones)

 

The Diois 

Location - 40km from Cornas

 

Mountainous region included in the Northern Rhone but NOT in the Les Cotes du Rhone AOC 

 

Climate - Continental with Alpine influences 

 

Highly elevated vineyards with cooler temperatures, High diurnals and seasonal variation - highest here in all of the Rhone 

 

Difficult growing envirourment for grapes, The Doios is planted with durable varieties 

 

One of the highest wine growing regions in France, altitudes can be up to 810 meters above sea level 

 

Soil - Limestone and Clay 

 

 

Grapes grown in The Diois 

 

WHITE 

 

Clairette

 

Muscat a Petit Grains Blanc

 

Chardonnay

 

Aligote 

 

RED

 

Gamay

 

Pinot Noir 

 

Syrah 

 

Wine Styles 

 

Predomaintly Sparkling wines made from white grapes are produced here. Production method is either

 

Ancestral - Clairette de Die-Methode Diosie Ancestrale (blend of Muscat, minimum 75% and Clairette 

 

 

or 

 

Traditonal methond - Clairette de Die (100% Clairette)  or Cremant de Die (minimum 50% Clairette, 5-10% Muscat, up to 10% Aligote)

 

Dry White Wines 

 

Coteaux de Die AOC is 100% Clairette

 

Chatillon en Diois AOC - white, red or rose. 

 

Red and Rose, minimum of 75% Gamay with up to 25% Syrah and/or Pinot Noir 

 

White, blend of Chardonnay and Aligote with no law requirements regarding proportions

 

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