In thirsty pursuit of Syrah/Shiraz, people tend to forget about its ancestral home, the mighty Rhone Valley, birthplace of many other big beautiful reds as well as superb white, and pink, wines.
Famous names tumble from the tongue: Cote-Rotie, Condrieu, Hermitage, Cornas, Rasteau, Gigondas, Cairanne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, Tavel, Costières de Nimes, and more.
From C de Nimes, for example, I’m currently enjoying a delectable Chateau de Nages 2014, a rock-solid, rich extra-dry white that’s a steal for only $19.95. Blended from old vines like Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Viognier and Bourboulenc; unoaked, stony and crisp, with nuances of lemon zest and white grapefruit.
Crafted by self-admitted “peasant-researcher, perfectionist and doubting Thomas” Michel Gassier, a fervent defender of C de Nîmes and the Camargue, it’s a fine expression of his adored terroir and the richness of this most southerly Rhone appellation.
Best kept secrets of the Rhone: it’s France’s second biggest wine region with 28 appellations, 5,000 producers, 27 grape varieties headed by Grenache and stretches 200 km along the Rhone River.
The northern Rhone is the cradle of Syrah (known in Australia as Shiraz) and the typical red blend is Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier grapes are used for the northern white wines, Clairette, Grenache and Bourboulenc in the south (white wines make up 6% of the Rhone total).
Tiny aromatic Condrieu is 100% Viognier. Tavel is the best and most famous rose, which makes up 13% of all Rhone wines.
Find out much more about this cornucopia of choice from rhone-wines.com