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Flashcards in Northern Rhône Deck (42):

What is the climate of the Northern Rhône?



What are the main soil types in the Northern Rhône?

  • Granitic/Volcanic: On the left bank, from Côte-Rôtie to Saint-Péray;
  • Alluvial/Clay: On the right bank, on the flat land of Crozes-Hermitage.


When did Vitis vinifera arrive in the Northern Rhône?

At least 2000 years ago with the arrival of the Romans, who planted hillside vineyards, stone walls and small terrasses.


Which 2 cities delimit the Northern Rhône Valley?


  • in the north (20 km south of Lyon)


  • in the south


Name the AOPs of the Northern Rhône Valley.

From north to south:

  • Côte-Rôtie
  • Condrieu
    • Château Grillet (monopole within Condrieu)
  • Saint-Joseph
  • Hermitage
  • Crozes-Hermitage
  • Cornas
  • Saint-Péray
  • Clairette de Die
  • Chatillon en Diois


Where are the prime vineyards of the Northern Rhône situated: on the valley floor or on steep slopes?

Northern Rhône's prime vineyards are planted on steep slopes.


How do winemakers work on the steep slopes of the Northern Rhône?

Most of the work is done by hand as tractors cannot go over the small terrasses. Horses are sometimes used in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. 

Romans built stone terraces which are still used today and require hand harvesting.


What are échelas?

Largely seen in the Northern Rhône, échelas are wooden spikes used to support gobelet-trellised vines.  

They are most often found in vineyards on steep slopes.


What is the only red grape allowed in the Northern Rhône?



What is the crossing of Syrah?

The parent grapes of Syrah are Dereza and Mondeuse Blanche, both obscure grapes from Savoie.


Name the white grapes grown in the Northern Rhône and in which appellations you'll find them.


  • Condrieu, Château Grillet


  • Hermitage, Saint-Péray, Saint-Joseph


  • Hermitage, Saint-Péray, Saint-Joseph


What are the flavors and characteristics of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne? 

Viognier is full bodied with high alcohol, low acidity, and apricot aromas.

Roussanne is medium-to-full bodied with medium acidity and perfumed stone fruits.

Marsanne is medium-to-full bodied and lends a fatty texture; it is slightly bitter and develops marizpan notes as it ages.


What are the 3 white-wine only appellations of the Northern Rhône that make still wine?

  • Condrieu AOP: 100% Viognier
  • Château Grillet AOP: 100% Viognier
  • Saint-Péray AOP: Roussanne - Marsanne


Is Condrieu more likely to be dry or sweet?

Today Condrieu is famous for being dry and aged in oak barrels.

However, back in the 1940s, Condrieu was known for its sweet wine production.  A few young winemakers today are experimenting with late harvest Viognier from the slopes of Condrieu.



Who is the current owner of Château Grillet?

François Pinault

François Pinault also owns Château Latour, Domaine d'Eugénie, Clos de Tart, and Eisele Vineyard.


In terms of size and production, what is the largest appellation of the Northern Rhône?

Crozes-Hermitage AOP



Name the grape varieties used in the production of Crozes-Hermitage AOP.


  • Syrah


  • Marsanne
  • Roussanne

Red Crozes-Hermitage can be blended with a maximum 15% combined Marsanne and Roussanne.



Are new oak barrels largely used in Crozes-Hermitage AOP?

Generally, no -- either large or neutral demi-muids are used to soften the tannins of the Syrah in Crozes-Hermitage.

New oak usage is rare as Crozes-Hermitage as it is an appellation meant for early consumption.


What is the difference between Crozes-Hermitage AOP and Hermitage AOP?

Crozes-Hermitage AOP

  • vineyards are located moslty on flat land with varied soils where mechanical harvesting is common;
  • roughly 1,200ha in size.

Hermitage AOP

  • Hermitage is a steep granite hill roughly 120ha in size;
  • produces some of France's most prestigious wines, the majority of them reds.  All vineyard work is done by hand.

Both AOPs allow for up to 15% combined Marsanne and Roussanne to be blended into the reds.


Which 2 appellations in the Northern Rhône are highest in production?

  1. Crozes-Hermitage AOP
  2. Saint-Joseph AOP


Is St-Joseph an homogeneous appellation in terms of quality and style of wine?

No, St-Joseph is not homogeneous.  The vineyards stretch over a long distance, covering wide variations in climate and soil.

The northern part is located around Condrieu, far cooler than its southern tip (about 60 km south), next to Cornas and St-Péray.


Name the grape varieties used in the production of Saint-Joseph AOP.


  • Syrah


  • Marsanne
  • Roussanne

Saint-Joseph rouge allows a maximum of 10% combined Marsanne and Roussanne in the blend.


In the Northern Rhône, red wines from   (1)   tend to have more elegance while in   (2)   they are bolder and more powerful; in    (3)   they are full bodied and earthy.

  1. Côte-Rôtie
  2. Cornas
  3. Hermitage


What is the warmest appellation in the Northern Rhône?

Cornas AOP


Which appellation in the Northern Rhône makes red wine only made from 100% Syrah?

Cornas AOP


What are some of the factors that contribute to wines from Cornas being so full and powerful?

Some of the factors that contribute to Cornas's full and powerful wines are its location and the terroir:

  • Situated in the southern part of the Northern Rhône, this tiny AOP has an amphitheater which reflects sunlight and retains heat;
  • Vineyards are on very steep, granitic slopes. This enhances the amount of sunshine the grapes receive;
  • Exposure is south/southeast, so the AOP sees long ripening days.


What is the northernmost appellation in the Rhône Valley?


Attention! The Rhône River's northernmost appellation is Valais in Switzerland; the Rhône Valley's northernmost appellation is Côte-Rôtie.


What does Côte-Rôtie translate to in English?

Roasted slope

Grapes are highly exposed to the sun as the vineyards face east-to-southeast.


Name some highly regarded winemakers of Côte-Rôtie.

  • E. Guigal
  • Domaine Georges Vernay
  • Domaine Jamet
  • Domaine Jasmin
  • Domaine Yves Cuilleron
  • Gilles Barge


What are E. Guigal's La La La wines?

La Mouline

  • fantasy name, not a parcel; fruit sourced from Côte Blonde; always has a bit of Viognier in the blend;

La Turque

  • parcel located on Côte Brune; always has a bit of Viognier in the blend;

La Landonne

  • parcel located on Côte Brune; always 100% Syrah; usually the longest lived of the three.


What are Côte Brune and Côte Blonde?

They are two of the most famous vineyards in Côte-Rôtie.  Both are located in the town of Ampuis.

  • Côte Brune: Northern side of Ampuis; hard iron-rich granitic/schist soil making tighter, more rustic wines;
  • Côte Blonde: Southern side of Ampuis; granitic soil with higher proportion of clay and limestone, producing more lithe, elegant wines.


In Côte-Rôtie, which white grape may be blended with Syrah?

What is the maximum amount?

  • Viognier
  • Up to 20% of the final blend; often co-fermented with Syrah grapes.

Viognier adds aromatic complexity to the power of the Syrah.


Name the 2 AOPs located on the right bank in the Northern Rhône.

  • Hermitage AOP
  • Crozes-Hermitage AOP


In the mid-18th century, Bordeaux wine producers would hermitagé their wines.  What does hermitagé mean?

Hermitagé is when Bordelaise winemakers would use Syrah from Hermitage to beef up their own wines in color, texture, and flavor.


The Rhône River takes a west-to-east turn at the village of Tain l'Hermitage.  In terms of exposure, what does this do for the hill of Hermitage?

This turn in the river gives the hill of Hermitage a full southerly exposure, giving the grapes all-day sun.


What styles of wine can be made in Hermitage AOP?

Still white and red only from Syrah, Roussanne and Marsanne.


Are Hermitage wines well suited for aging, or are they generally made for early consumption?

Hermitage wines are meant to be aged.  They are concentrated and tight in their youth, and need time for the tannins to soften. 

Hermitage from classic vintages should be aged at least 5-10 years; some may be cellared for to up 50 years.


Who are the 4 largest producers of Hermitage AOP?

From largest landholder to smallest:

  • M. Chapoutier
  • Paul Jaboulet Aîné
  • Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
  • Delas Frères

Domaine JL Chave is the only family-owned and operated business; the other three are négociants.


What styles of wine are produced in Saint-Péray?

Still and sparkling dry white wines

Sparkling wines must be aged for minimum 12 months prior to release with no minimum lees aging.


What is the name of the howling, cold northerly wind in the Rhône Valley?

The Mistral


What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Mistral in the Northern Rhône?


  • The strong wind keeps vineyards dry and prevents mold and mildew, keeping grapes disease- and rot-free;
  • It helps to maintain bright acidity in the grapes and cool down the temperature at night.


  • Vines must be strongly trellised as the wind can easily strike down a free cane; the wind can blow up to 100 km/h (62 mph).


Wines labelled under the Côtes-du-Rhône AOP are mostly sourced from the Northern or the Southern part of the Rhône Valley?


Southern Rhône