The Northern Rhône is small, barely 40 miles long. With a very
Continental Climate (hot summers, & cold winters) and precipitation throughout the year. Without a doubt the most striking feature is the steepness of the hillsides. The vineyards aremade of small terraces to keep the soil from eroding down the hill. The Northern Rhone is the birthplace of Syrah and where many believe it reaches its height of quality,expression and elegance.
Or the “Roasted Slope” is home to some of the steepest vineyards in all of France. Syrah loves the well draining granite soils and soaks up the sun on the south facing slopes.Wines from here can be pricey but worth it – raspberry, violet, truffles and chocolate.
Condrieu (Con-dree-euh) is best known for the luscious wines of Viognier. This is the home of Viognier and at one time was the only place to find it. Again, not the least expensive of wines but something to savor – heady apricot, floral notes and a rich honeyed mouthfeel.
The largest of the Northern AOC’s, St. Joseph is home to Syrah and the white varietalsRoussanne and Marsanne. The whites are fresh with subtle fruit and floral notes, whilethe Syrah is lovely and perfumey with dark berries and a bit of licorice.
The biggest area in terms of production, Crozes-Hermitage often lies in the shadow of the famous ‘Hermitage’ AOC that surrounds it. Wines are produced from Syrah, withMarsanne and Roussanne, and range from easy drinking to cellar worthy.
Famous the world over, the wines from Hermitage come from the small vineyards overlooking the village of Tain-l’Hermitage. Most of the production is Syrah and the wines really need some time to show their true character – round and full bodied with red fruits, wild flowers and leather. The whites are harder to find and were once the favorite of the Russian nobility.