Heads Up Francophiles: Get to Know the Rhône Valley with Wine

We love exploring the different regions of France, but let’s be real, it’s not in the budget to visit as often as we’d like. So we’re taking a more affordable approach and exploring different areas of France through wine. Check out this guide as we explore the Rhône Valley, producing affordable, food-friendly Côtes du Rhône wines.

Northern Rhône Valley, Condrieu: Saint Cosme Condrieu 2015
About 25 miles south of Lyon, Condrieu is the northern most wine area along the Rhône river. Picture a land alongside it with terraces, steep hills and eve plateaus. Its Mediterranean climate with hot summers is not only ideal for living, but also growing especially white wines. We suggest trying the Saint Cosme Condrieu 2015, a white made from the token Viognier grape which begins with the classic fruity notes of the region and develops with earthier hints of fennel and anise. Thanks to its acidity, this wine can be paired with rich, creamy pastas, seafood, fatty pork, or simple roast chicken.

Northern Rhône Valley, Cornas: Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes 2014
Heading further south down the river, we come to Cornas. Continuing the Mediterranean climate, this land is full or hills, steep slopes that block the sometimes harsh winds and plenty of granite soil growing ancient vines said to be from the 10th century. This area produces big red wines made from Syrah grapes. Alain Voge Cornas Vieilles Vignes 2014 sticks to tradition with dark colors, dark fruit and licorice notes with floral hints. We suggest this wine with braised beef or lamb.

Southern Rhône Valley, Gigondas: Domaine La Bouissiere Gigondas 2015
Located further into the south of France, this warm region is blasted with lots of sunlight each year. Producing woody reds and anything-but-boring rosés, these are relaxed, fun wines, just like the people of Gigondas. We tried a bottle of Domaine La Bouissiere Gigondas 2015 from this area. It is a red wine grown at higher altitude with a silky texture, dark berry notes, but brightened with pink peppercorn hints. Try this wine with cassoulet or spicier Moroccan dishes.

Southern Rhône Valley, Vacqueyras: Alain Jaume Grande Garrigue Vacqueyras 2015
At the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range, Vacqueyras is known for producing well-balanced, refreshing reds that start fresh and age to be much more rich. Whites and rosés can also be found here, but are quite rare. This red wine we tried is rich, smooth, with umami-like flavors that finish with a hint of spice. This is a bottle that can be expected to continually change and age for the next five or so years. Try this wine with grilled steak, game meats or even pizza.

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