France - Rhone
The Rhone Valley stretches from the Alps to the Mediterranean in the south east France It is diverse enough to be considered as two distinct zones – Northern and Southern Rhone – and passes through another wine growing region of Ardeche.
Northern Rhone with appellations such as Cote Rotie, St Joseph and Hermitage has Syrah as the only permitted red grape, producing fine wines capable of great quality and long ageing. Southern Rhone is more important regarding quantity – it’s the region of AC Cote du Rhone – and whist Grenache dominates is more diverse in varietals; 21 are recognised.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is most famous of the AC of the Southern Rhône, the very first AOC to be recognised when the system was instituted in 1936. The vineyards are planted with 14 varietals (18 if you count the variations) and they are at four levels in height as the land rises up from the river. The soils, though varied, are famous for the large, flat, rounded stone or “Galets” that retain heat during the day and release it at night which helps the ripening of grapes.