France: Rhône Valley

East and South of Orange

Gigondas, Vacqueyras and beyond
By Liz Berry MW

This Guide was last updated on 22 February 2010
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Main grape varieties

Red

Grenache
The chief red wine grape in this micro-region. Thrives in dry conditions, but is susceptible to disease. The wines are rich in aromas and texture.

Carignan
Ancient Mediterranean variety that is robust and productive resulting in wines with high acidity, tannins and colour that are best blended with Grenache and Cinsault. It thrives well on the hills on schist soils. Useful for rosé blends.

Cinsault
Gives supple, light wines and is particularly suited for rosé production, and for reds that are aimed to be drunk within a year. A high yielding variety that is resistant to drought.

Syrah
This grape prefers temperate climatic conditions and thrives on the granite slopes of the north. However, it is widely used as part of the blend in this micro-region as it results in wines with strong colour, good structure, adding perfumed and spicy flavours.

Mourvèdre
A late ripener that grows best on pebbly slopes where it is less likely to suffer from the effects of drought. It produces wines with good colour, structure and aromas.


White

Grenache Blanc
Used in blends to add supple fruit and body.

Clairette
This variety is well suited to poor, dry soils. Often used with Grenache Blanc, or with Ugni Blanc that contributes the acidity needed in a blend with this variety.

Bourboulenc
Used as a blending ingredient.

Roussanne
Attributes elegant and delicate characteristics to the best blends.

Marsanne
Makes powerful wines with low acidity. This rustic grape flourishes on the hot, rocky slopes.

Viognier
Capricious grape with low yields and uneven ripening produces wines with aromas of blossom, ripe pears and apricots. Excellent for blending with other more neutral whites to provide aroma and perfume.

Muscat de Frontignan
Also known as Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains. Low yielding delicate variety giving lovely grapey, orange flower flavours, used for Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.


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