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Wine Spectator School

Class 5: Old World Model: France

the rhône valley

The Steep North and the Rolling South

Situated in southern France at the threshold of the sunny Mediterranean, the Rhône Valley is famous for its hearty, sometimes spicy reds, although it also produces aromatic whites and dry rosés.

The valley is France's second largest AOC area and contains two distinctly different growing regions, the Northern and the Southern Rhône.


Climate and Geography

As the Rhône flows southward, it connects central France to the Mediterranean and defines a progressively warmer wine region.

Vineyards in the cooler north are planted on precipitous terraced cliffs rising sharply from the narrow river valley, where they can soak up the sun.

In contrast, the Southern Rhône is a much larger area with broad, gently sloping vineyards. Although the warm Mediterranean climate is generally hospitable,...

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