France: Rhône Valley

North and West of Avignon

Châteauneuf du Pape, Lirac, Tavel and Costières de Nîmes
By Liz Berry MW

This Guide was last updated on 27 February 2010
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Main grape varieties


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

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 in particular.

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.

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 and good structure, adding perfumed and spicy flavours.

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.

This late ripener can add acidity and peppery tones to red blends, especially Châteauneuf du Pape.

There is a surprising amount of Merlot grown in this part of the southern Rhône as well as the Costières de Nîmes. Its consistent yields, good colour, and fruitiness have made it a favourite for many of the marginal vineyard sites, and more than one producer of Châteauneuf also sells good value Vin de Table including this variety.


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

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.

Used as a blending ingredient.

Used as a blending ingredient.

Attributes elegant and delicate characteristics to a blend especially in white Châteauneuf du Pape.

Makes powerful wines with low acidity. This rustic grape flourishes on the hot, rocky slopes. Not a part of the Châteauneuf blend, but increasingly popular in the Costières de Nîmes.

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