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
can either be wet and foggy with potential frost or sunny and dry
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
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.
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
Cold with a little bit of light snow fall.
The vines in Northern Rhone are able to undergo true dormancy
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Muscat a Petit Grains Blanc
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
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