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Thursday, 01 March 2018 17:15

Seven Things You Might Not Know About Rhône Wines

Written by Julien Camus
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The Rhône is France’s second largest producer of AOC wines (after Bordeaux). Its viticultural history dates back to the Romans who sculpted its terraced topography and introduced the vine.

It is in the Rhône where east  meets west. The granite and schist of the Massif Central (west) collide with the sedimentary soils of the Alps and its foothills (east)….
So, how well do you know the Rhône?

  1. Did you know that much of the Rhône was once planted to olive and fruit trees?

    A catastrophic freeze in 1956 killed entire orchards. Farmers replanted with grapevines – one of the few crops to survive the freeze of 1956.

  2. Did you know that the largest cluster of extinct volcanoes on planet Earth is in the center of France?

    The Massif Central, just to the west of the Rhône Valley, is made up of 450 of them. It is this block of granite that stopped a glacier in its tracks during the last Ice Age and turned it south to carve the Northern Rhône Valley!

  3. Did you know that the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape weren’t planted until the 13th century?

    Planting had to wait for the invention of tools strong enough to tackle the rocky soil!

  4. Did you know that sparkling wine is made in the Rhône Valley?

    Saint-Peray makes traditional-method bubblies from Marsanne and Roussanne while appellations in the Rhône’s Diois prefer the ancestral method and Clairette. Grab your flutes!

  5. Did you know that some slopes in the Northern Rhône are so steep that what little topsoil there is washes away in heavy rains?

    Every autumn, vignerons must cart baskets of soil back to the top.

  6. Do you know what the Mistral is?

    The Mistral is a cold, north wind  funneled through the steep ravine of the Northern Rhône Valley where it picks up speed to  race across the south of France. It can reach speeds of more than 60 m/h / 100km/h!

  7. Did you know that the Southern Rhône Valley is part of cultural Provence?

    …a land of olive trees, cicadas and sunshine.

    Interested in learning more about or studying the Rhône Valley and its wines?

Take a look at our Master Level Rhône Valley Course:

And our 2018 Rhône Valley Immersion Education Tour!  

Access Your Free FWS Chapter Now!

Julien Camus

Founder & President @ Wine Scholar Guild

Julien worked as Trade Attaché for wines and spirits at the French Embassy in Washington DC (2004-2006). In this role, he recognized the need for French wine education as a means to spur consumer demand and interest in his country’s wines.

To that end, he founded the Wine Scholar Guild in August of 2005,an organization dedicated to the promotion of French wine and culture through education. Julien invited national importers of French wine to join the organization as Industry Members and 25 key French wine importers did so immediately.

After leaving the embassy, he has devoted his energies to developing the Wine Scholar Guild and its network of program providers around the globe. Julien holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration with a major in International Marketing from the Strasbourg Management School.

In 2019, Julien was one of the "Future 50" award winners, an award created by WSET and IWSC to acknowledge professionals under 40 who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

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