South France's Rhone Valley a historic & contemporary wine hub
By Stephen Quinn, Special to The China PostThe Rhone Valley in southern France is the second largest region of production after Bordeaux and makes some spectacular wines. The 2011 vintage was especially good.
February 11, 2013, 12:52 am TWN
Exports have soared in recent years, with a 9.3-percent rise in volume last year globally. About three in 10 bottles made are exported.
The export growth in the Asian region was extra strong, with a 40-percent surge last year. The Rhone exports to 145 countries around the world.
Red wine is the main product, with 86 percent of the total, plus another 9 percent for rose.
Mild temperatures in September prior to harvest meant the 2011 vintage was exceptional. Emilie Desmeure-Mandon of Domaine des Remizieres said that year's wines have good maturity and perfect balance with “great finesse.”
Nicolas Constantin, winemaker for Inter Rhone and author of Cotes du Rhone Meridionales, said the finesse of the tannins in 2011 were displayed via the remarkable character of the syrah (the main grape of the region). “The 2011 vintage already offers beautiful quality with freshness and excellent acidity.”
And Philippe Guigal, winemaker for Maison Guigal, said the vintage was marked by “beautiful balance” and excellent fruit flavors and dense colors for the reds.
Wine-making started in the valley of the Rhone river about 2,000 years ago and was further developed during the Roman occupation of France.
In 1737 the king of France ordered that the base of barrels of wine from the Cotes du Rhone had to be branded with the letters “CDR,” along with the vintage and the place of harvest. That tradition continues.
The Rhone can roughly be divided into the north and the south. The north has granite soils and features iconic names like Cotes Rotie (literally the “roasted slopes” because of the high heat in the area), Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage.