The Rhône Valley is one of the most renowned wine-growing regions in France and Europe. The wines produced in its vineyards are characterised by great diversity and are protected by the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) labels.
Vineyards of the Rhône Valley, an exceptional terroir
Zoom in on the crus of this valley, the result of a harmonious marriage between a varied terroir, a favourable climate and ancestral know-how, between the northern and southern Rhône.
There are two official labels for Rhône Valley wines: the AOC, for appellation d’origine contrôlée, and the AOP, for appellation d’origine protégé.
Both have specific specifications listing the territories, authorised grape varieties, yields and other production and vinification criteria.
Map of Rhône Valley vineyards
From Vienne to the Mediterranean, all the appellations in the Rhône Valley from north to south:
The Crus of the northern Rhône
In this northern part of the valley, the climate is continental, with cold winters and hot summers, while the predominantly granite and schist soils favour the cultivation of grape varieties such as Syrah for the reds and Viognier for the whites.
Emblematic crus such as Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage offer wines renowned for their finesse and aromatic complexity to the vineyards of the Rhône Valley.
Map of the Northern Rhône vineyards
The appellations from Vienne to Montélimar along the Rhône river and its tributaries such as the Isère and Drôme rivers:
Located in the north of the valley, this cru is famous for its elegant red wines, made mainly from Syrah and Viognier grapes. The steep terroir and specific micro climate give the wines remarkable finesse and complexity.
Renowned for its exquisite white wines, Condrieu is the birthplace of the Viognier grape. These wines are appreciated for their aromatic richness, combining floral notes with hints of white-fleshed fruit.
This cru produces powerful red wines and complex whites. The reds, dominated by Syrah, offer aromas of black fruit, spices and earth, while the whites, made from Marsanne and Roussanne, are round and rich.
The largest cru in the northern region, Crozes-Hermitage offers red and white wines that are more accessible but no less qualitative. The reds, predominantly Syrah, are fruity and spicy, while the whites offer freshness and aromas of white flowers from the Marsanne and Roussanne varieties.
Producing mainly Syrah-based red wines, this cru is known for its excellent value for money. The wines are fruity, spicy and well-structured. Our favourite of the Rhône Valley vineyards.
The Crus of the Southern Rhône
North of Montélimar, the imaginary dividing line between the north and south of the valley, other appellations stand out as you head towards the Mediterranean.
The southern Rhône has a Mediterranean climate and more varied soils, including clay, limestone and river pebbles.
This diversity is reflected in the grape varieties, dominated by Grenache noir, Mourvèdre and other local varieties. Crus such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Tavel illustrate the richness and diversity of this region’s wines.
Map of the southern Rhône vineyards
Appellations from Montélimar to Bouches-d-Rhône, following the valleys and towns towards the Mediterranean:
This prestigious appellation is famous for its robust, complex red wines. Using up to 13 different grape varieties, with a predominance of Grenache noir, these wines are renowned for their richness, depth and spicy notes.
8 red grape varieties (Cinsault, Counoise, Grenache noir, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Syrah, Terret and Vaccarèse) and 5 white grape varieties (Clairette, Bourboulenc, Picpoul, Picardan and Roussanne) are authorised for this cru.
Situated at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, this cru produces vigorous, full-bodied red wines. Grenache dominates, accompanied by Syrah and Mourvèdre, offering aromas of red fruit, spices and garrigue.
One of a kind, Tavel is renowned for its wines, all of which are rosé. They are made mainly from Grenache Noir with Bourboulenc, Cinsault, Clairette, Mourvèdre, Picpoul and Syrah. These are structured, fruity wines, ideal for summer cooking.
This cru produces full-bodied, aromatic red wines. Grenache noir is also dominant here, creating wines with notes of ripe fruit and spices, and good longevity. Syrah and Mourvèdre are also included, with other grape varieties possible up to a maximum of 10%.
Known for its reds, whites and rosés, Lirac offers a wide range of tastes. The reds are rich and spicy, the whites fresh and floral, and the rosés delicate and fruity.
The grape varieties used vary according to the type of wine. Grenache blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc for the whites, Grenache noir, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah for the reds and rosés.
Economic impact and change
The vineyards of the Rhône Valley play a crucial role in the French wine economy, as they do in the regions concerned: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Occitanie, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur. They attract wine connoisseurs from all over the world, contributing to France’s cultural and gastronomic influence, while also providing a source of diversity for wine lovers.
Faced with climate change and new consumer expectations, winegrowers in the Rhône Valley are adapting. They are innovating in terms of growing practices and exploring new approaches to wine making, while preserving the tradition and quality for which their wines are renowned.
The Rhône Valley, with its exceptional crus, is a wine-growing treasure trove, the 2nd largest in France after Bordeaux. Each cru, with its unique characteristics, tells a story of terroir, passion and excellence. It’s an invitation to discover and savour the diversity and richness of the wines from this emblematic region.
Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health
- Map of the Rhône river
- Weather along the Rhône
- Taking the train in Switzerland and France
- Where to sleep in the Rhône valley?
- River tourism map (Rhône)
- Towns crossed by the river