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Wines from Rhône - Saint Joseph

Christophe Tassan, in his book "Strolling through the vineyards of the Rhône Valley", describes the river as: "A river-king, carrying stones and history. The Rhône is the link, the unifying element of these lands of contrasts. From Vienne to Nîmes and Avignon, to the confines of the Luberon, on both banks of the river, a multiplicity of paths are open to you ".

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The Côtes-du-Rhône appellation extends over six departments, between the Massif Central, the Alps and down to the sea. The different winds and the Mediterranean climate give it strength and quality which are the pleasure of wine lovers all over the world.

The history of the Rhône vineyards predates many other French vineyards. It dates back to the Greco-Roman period, traces of which can be found in the form of amphoras allowing the transport of wines by river, hence the creation of the city of Vienne by the Romans. The fall of the empire thus dealt them a great blow, except for those on the shores of the Mediterranean or those on the outskirts of the great city of Lyon. Thereafter, in the Middle Ages, it will be the Church which will allow the viticulture to start again. The Popes, great lovers of the region's wines, were the first to replant the vineyards of Avignon. John XXII, second of the seven Avignon Popes, came to Châteauneuf du Pape for his summer residence. Benedict XII, the next, starts the foundations of the Popes' Palace. In the middle of the 19th century the Côste du Rhône becomes the Côtes du Rhône, also including the vineyards planted on the other side (left bank) of the Rhône. In 1937, the AOC Côtes-du-Rhône was declared.

In the northern Rhône Valley, the flagship appellations are Condrieu (for dry and floral whites made by Domaine Rémi Niéro), Côte-Rôtie, whose worthy representatives are the brothers Benjamin and David Duclaux of Domaine Duclaux, as well as the famous Hermitage, and the Crozes-Hermitage of Domaine des Remizières in Mercurol. St-Joseph, along with Les Remizières and the Cave de St-Désirat is an appellation offering excellent value for money.

The soils of the Rhone Valley are the product of thousands of years. When the Strait of Gibraltar was moved and closed, the level of the Mediterranean Sea fell sharply, digging deeper into the riverbed, creating river terraces on the sides of the valley, mixing the different soils of the slopes together: sand, clay with siliceous pebbles. Today, four types of rock make up these terraces: granite, sandy silica, limestone and clay. Thanks to these rocks, the vine is perfectly supplied with water and brings their aromas and tastes to the Rhône wines.

The grape variety present at least 40% for the reds and rosés is Grenache (especially in the southern part). Syrah, which is predominant in the northern part, is also very present throughout the southern part. Some grape varieties can also be blended with them. Matured in barrels or in vats, the wines of the Côtes-du-Rhône appellation offer a multitude of choices, with very varied wines and prices that are most of the time affordable. Some reds are light, fruity, even to the point of having a nervous attack, others are wines that can be kept for a long time, even tannic and structured, having been drenched in sunshine in warmer, more exposed vineyards. The rosés, especially from the Cinsault grape variety, are fruity and should be drunk immediately. The few rare white wines are fresh and aromatic as they are made from blends of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne, Clairette, Viognier and Bourboulenc.

In short, the Rhone Valley has all the representation of wines found elsewhere: dry wines in all three colours (with a dominant of red wines: 80%), natural sweet wines and sparkling wines.