Southern Rhone

Location

 

Welcome to Southern Rhone, starting at Montelimar and endingin Nimes. 

 

Around the city of Avignon is where the Cotes du Rhone vineyards stop. 

 

Unlike in Northern Rhone where the vineyards flank the Rhone river, Southern Rhone vineyards spread out far away for the river up to 80km away

Climate

Climate is Mediterranean

 

The sun shines in Southern Rhone, approx 2,700 hours per year 

 

High dirunal temperature swings, days can be very hot and the nights quite cold 

 

Spring 

 

Dry with cloudy skies, no frost hazard like the north. 

 

Summer 

 

Very sunny, hot and arid and cool nights. 

High dirunal temperautre swings in this warm climate produce completely ripened grapes, in addition to this they have a complex profile with diverse aromas profile and still maintain their acidity. 

 

These growing conditions are perfect for many grape varieties. 

 

Autumn 

 

Sun is still shining, warm, windy and usually quite dry with little rain 

Little to no risk for mildew or rot. The only threat to grapes is drought and the fierce Mistral winds

 

Winter 

 

Sun goes away, the region cools down and the rain follows without any snow 

Vines only do not undergo true dormancy. 

 

Geology

5 principal soil types

Galets 
Create powerful wines

Shingle Clay 
Age worthy tannic wines 

Limestone 
Provides great acidity and polished tannins

Red sandstone
Full bodied wines, black fruit, leather and spice

Loess (silts and sands that have been blown) 

Topography

Large plains covered in galets (pebbles) and mountains in the back drop

When the Alps were pushed upward centuries ago they formed many peaks and mountains.  The vineyards that are planted on the slopes or at the base of these mountains benefit from the cooling air that sweeps down as dusk settles.

Mount Ventoux and Mount Luberon are in the Eastern horizon 

 

Grapes

In Southern Rhone, There are 27 grape varieties


The wines produced here are typically blended

Inside the
Les Cotes du Rhone -  24 varieties

 red and white and in different AOCs different proportions are permitted 

In the entire Rhone valley, North and South - 31 grape varieties 



White grapes

Grenache Blanc
Clairette
Viognier
Bourboulenc 
Roussanne
Marsanne
Muscat a Petits Grains Blanc 
Piquepoul Blanc 
Ugni Blanc 
Picardin 
Rolle (only in Costieres and  Luberon)
Maccabeu (in Costieres only)
Pascal (little to none, disappearing)
Grenache Gris
(rose production)
Clairette Rose (rose production) 

 


Styles of wine produced by these white grapes 

Dry white wine


Sweet fortified wine "Vin Doux Naturels"  or VDN 

Dry still rose 


Red grapes

Grenache Noir
Syrah 
Mourvèdre 
Carignan 
Cinsault 
Counoise (barley planted, and only in Tavel and Chateauneuf-du-Pape) 
Muscardin (Chateauneuf-du-Pape)
Vaccarese 
Piquepoul Noir
Terret Noir 
Calitor (Tavel)

 


Styles of wines produced by these red grapes
Dry red wine 
Sweet, fortified "Vin Doux Naturels"  or VDN 

 

Viticulture

Gobelet 

Majority of vines are trained this way
Traditional training system with no trellis, stakes or support system 
Vines are trained low to the ground, this protects the vines from the Mistral winds

Now days, vignerons planting new vines  will often trellis to offer better sun exposure and minimise humidity in the canopy. 

Compared to Northern Rhone the vines are planted further apart, this is due to lack of soil and water.

If producers wish to irrigate their vines they must submit a special request and have it approved 

Harvest, machine or by hand. Vines trained in the traditional Gobelet method are usually hand harvested as they are low to the ground. The only place where the grapes must be hand-harvested by law is Beaumes de Venise AOC 

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