After working for over a week in the Southern Rhône's two leading appellations—Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas—it was time to head out into the hinterlands. Here, plateaus and rolling hills make up the Côtes du Rhône-Villages area, where good vignerons don't have the benefit of a well-marketed and recognizable appellation. It brings both benefits and hardships.
As a consumer, you can find excellent values in these areas—outstanding quality that can't command the price of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas. But the vignerons have to work twice as hard to pull quality from these terroirs, which aren't as naturally blessed.
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