Grenache: the workhorse of the Southern Rhone.
While Grenache has lost favour to Shiraz in Australia, in the Southern Rhone, Shiraz plays second fiddle. Here Grenache remains the basis for beautifully balanced, frequently exuberant reds with a strong Mediterranean influence. Apart from Grenache, twenty two other varieties are permitted throughout the entire Rhone Appellation, though generally no more than ten are employed in blends.
Rhone wine labels and the appellation system.
As in other French wine regions, the Rhone's Appellations d'Origine Controlees (AOCs) rely on sets of rules based around the concept of 'terroir' (the interaction of soil and climate on wine quality) as well as specific local and historic practises. Essentially, the whole system is organised as a pyramid. The further you climb towards the summit, the more restrictive the criteria for production, the more prestigious the terroir and the better the wines should be.
The 'Cotes du Rhone' AOC is the base of the pyramid. The second level is the 'Cotes du Rhone Villages' AOC which follows slightly different rules. Out of ninety 'communes' allowed to produce Cotes Du Rhone Villages, eighteen of them are allowed to step up the hierarchy ladder with the mention of the village name on their labels (e.g. 'Rasteau', 'Vacquerays' etc.), provided they respect the more restrictive yields as well as other analytical requirements at harvest. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, we find the local appellations, for which the term 'Crus' is the norm. Here yields generally cannot exceed 35Hls/Ha and strict conditions for cultivation apply. Chateauneuf Du Pape is one such Cru.
Buy Chateauneuf du Pape online.
Chateauneuf du Pape forms the apex of the Southern Rhone's appellation pyramid. The extraordinary and long-standing reputation of its wines is such that in the 14th century, the Papacy in Avignon favoured the village as their summer residence, expanding the vineyards to suitable surrounding areas. To this day, each bottle of Chateauneuf bears the coat-of-arms of the city of Avignon, with its two crossed keys, those of Saint Peter, the first Pope. Seven Popes later, the rigour established in those times has survived the centuries. In fact, Chateauneuf became the working model for France's earliest appellation laws. Under the rules, 13 different varieties are permitted, though Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cinsault dominate over Counoise, Clairette and Bourboulenc.
We continue to import wines from the Southern Rhone, handpicking from the the very best vintages and tasting and rating most of our selections to further guide you in your choice. When you buy Rhone wines online, you can have them shipped to most of Australia.