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Wine Spectator School

Class 5: Old World Model: France

the rhône valley


Southern Rhône

Although Southern Rhône reds can be blended from as many as 13 varieties, including Syrah, Grenache is the primary grape. The wine is full-bodied and fruity like Syrah, but the tannins are lighter, making it softer and smoother.

The finest red wine of the Southern Rhône is Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where the vines grow in soil covered with pebbles. These are deep red, full-bodied, ageable wines with high alcohol levels.

In the rolling hills surrounding Châteauneuf-du-Pape are vast vineyards growing the same grapes for lighter-bodied, fruity Côtes du Rhône and the slightly higher quality Côtes du Rhône-Villages. These wines are meant to be drunk early.

Tavel is the source of France's most famous dry rosés, made from a blend of red varietals that includes Grenache, Syrah and...

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