What is a Rhône Blend?
To cut to the chase, a Rhone blend wine is simply a wine with blends from the grapes which have origins that are traced to the Rhônes Valley in Southern France. There is a long and interesting story to this wine, which accounts for why these particular wine blends are referred to as Rhone wine blends instead of the usual “grape variety” by which every other wine is regarded. This story will be explored fully further down the article. Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan and Mourvedre are used majorly in making these blends, although in some cases other secondary grapes could be used.More info and FAQ below
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Frequently Asked Questions About Rhone Blend Red
What is the difference between Southern Rhône and Northern Rhône Wine Blends?
There is a difference in style and character of the wines produced from Southern and Northern Rhône. While Southern Rhône wines are warmer, luscious, spicy, have high alcohol content and are filled with herbs de Provence, kirsch and other red fruits that are ripened, the wines from Northern Rhône are elegant, fresher, high in perfume and bear black fruits, ripe, peppery, earth, flowers and have bacon fat aromas.
Another distinctive feature between these two wines is Syrah. In the north, Syrah is the only red wine grape allowed, although sometimes it can be blended with a specific portion of white wine grapes that have been approved.
What are the grapes used for Rhône Valley Wines?
Uniquely, there are 27 grape varieties that have been approved to be cultivated in the Rhône Valley. There are about 5,000 different wine producers alone as well as domaine and vineyards that are very active in Rhône Valley.
As earlier mentioned above, Syrah is the only red wine grape allowed in the Northern Rhône, while in Southern Rhône about 15 red wine grapes are allowed for making red wine, Grenache being the most popular.
Statistically, 79% of all the wines produced in Rhône are red wines, 15% are rose and 6% are white wines. Aside Syrah and Grenache, other grape varieties used in the Rhône Valley are:
What is the food pairing for Rhône Wine?
Whether it is the white rhône blend or red rhône blend, below are some great food pairings you could try out.
- Sirloin Strip Roast with Roquefort Mushrooms
- Squash and Zucchini with Goat Cheese
- Shanghai Stir-Fried Pork alongside Cabbage
- Potatoes with Braised Lamb
- Aisan Barbecued Chicken
White Rhône Blend vs Red Rhône Blend
Their major difference is in the grapes used, red rhone wines typically are made with Grenaceh, Mourvedre and Syrah, while white rhone wines are made with Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne among others.
Information About Rhone Blend Red
With the origin of the term in France used widely to describe a particular sort of wine from a winemaking region, the Rhone style blend has now been used today to broadly refer to any type of blended red wine that is made with the traditional grape varieties of the Rhone appellations.
Around fourteen red grape varieties are used in the Rhone blend wines which include Counoise, Marselan, Carignan, Clairette Rose, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Calitor, Muscardin, Piquepoul Noir, Syrah, Vaccarese, Muscat Noir and Terret Noir. Some white grapes like Clairette Blanche, Ungi Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul, Roussanne and Bourboulenc might also be included in these red wine blends. These grapes are dissimilar in performance and looks and can easily be differentiated in the vineyards. For instance, the Muscardin grape is almost black, having a thick and pigmented skin, while the Muscat Noir grape has light skin and large berries.
One thing all of these grapes have in common however, is their affinity for the same broad climate type.The blends do well in sunny climates and hot regions as long as there is a good drainage system and make-do cooling elements to ensure there is relief from the sun rays. One of such elements, Le Mistral, has been so famous in the region that it earned a cute name for its “acts of service.”
Rhone Style Blend in France
France’s Southern Rhone Valley had been popular for having vines planted there as far back as around 400 B.C, though the history of winemaking in the region dates further back.
Currently, this region has thousands of winemakers and winegrowers with more than a 100 wine producers cooperatives.
The wines made here make up the major part of the total wines produced in the region, thanks to the Côtes du Rhône appellation which covers both regions, but with a much larger production in Rhône.
About half of the approximately four million hectolitres of wines produced every year in the Rhône Valley falls under the Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages. Although they are permitted to include all of the red varieties and also some whites like Grenache Blanc, these wines are almost dominantly Grenache.
Rhône Style Blend in the United States
California is home to most of the popular Rhône-style red wines. History has it that a group of winemakers, including Steve Edmunds, Joseph Phelps, Randall Grahm and John Alban among others, began the cultivation of Rhône varieties in their vineyards during the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Soon, these early growers became widely known and referred to as the Rhône Rangers, and their Rhône-style blends became a reference point to so many other winemaking regions who were so eager to replicate the Rhône Valley wine style. Alban Vineyard wines, as well as those produced by Qupe, Tablas Creek, Edmunds St. John and Bonny Doon are notable winery producing wines in California, and they all use the Rhône wine blend varieties.
Rhône Style Blend in Global Production
Other American regions like Texas, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, Michigan and Idaho are also regions where the Rhône-style red wines are being produced. Syrah, which is also commonly known as Shiraz, has achieved great success in Australia due to its warm climate. Syrah is also blended with other grapes into the Rhône-style red wine blends, and takes a larger role in the blend of the G-S-M which is an acronym for the blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
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