The Rhône River originates in Switzerland, channeling meltwater from glaciers high in the Alps. More than 500 miles downstream, it reaches the Mediterranean, releasing an average of 60,000 cubic feet of freshwater into the sea every second. While vineyards thrive along the Rhône in the Swiss Valais, as well as the Savoie town of Seyssel, the “Rhône wines” we are concerned with today are born along a north-south span of the river roughly situated between the cities of Lyon and Avignon. The stretch can be divided into two distinct regions: the northern Rhône, where the Syrah grape is king, and the southern Rhône, where Grenache reigns. The river itself plays a role in defining these terroirs, moderating temperatures and reflecting sunlight. Crucially, the Rhône has carved out a valley and transported sediment over millions of years, giving rise to the very landscapes that are now home to many of France’s great vineyard sites. More than anything, the Rhône is the common thread that connects the twenty-five or so appellations in the river’s vicinity. Flowing southward, you’ll encounter a plethora of soils, different climates, and even distinct accents and cultural norms in the local people along the way. You’ll witness landscapes ranging from steep, terraced riverbanks to soft, gentle slopes. You will most certainly feel the violent mistral whipping past as it barrels down the valley. And the wines you’ll drink could be made from more than twenty possible permitted grape varieties, either blended or standing alone. It is no wonder, then, that Rhône wines can be red, white, or pink; dry or sweet; still or sparkling. They can provide basic satisfaction on an ordinary weeknight, or they can rank among the most memorable bottles you will ever taste. With this guide to the appellations of the Rhône Valley, you can work your way through the region’s diverse offerings one bottle at a time. The best way to learn about Rhône wines, of course, is with a corkscrew in hand.
Whatever your grilling setup, there’s bound to be something in this collection of wines for you. There are sparklers, whites, and rosés if grilled seafood or veggies are on the menu. Lighter reds from Beaujolais or Chinon are great with burgers and dogs. If steaks, chops, or something you hauled out of the backcountry are what’s for dinner, hearty reds from Fitou or Piedmont will serve you well.
Here at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant we don’t believe in selling anything mediocre, and we would certainly not put our name on a wine we didn’t believe in. So our values are just that, wines that are full of value and quality.
There are hundreds of wines in our portfolio, but not nearly enough space in our monthly newsletters to feature them all. Here you’ll find recent arrivals and new additions to our site, from half-bottles to Jeroboams, across France and Italy.
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