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Are you Rhonesome, tonight? (Rhone Valley, France – Day Two)

There are so many differences between the Northern and Southern Rhone Valleys that they should almost be called completely different names. Almost the only thing in common as I mentioned in my last post, is the fact that the four varieties grown in the north are also grown in the south. The Northern Rhone is a much more narrow and elevated valley than in the south, which opens up into wide plains with rolling hills rather than steep cliffs. This type of land actually reminds me of the way the Adige River flows south from Austria through the Italian Alto Adige and Trentino regions into Veneto. Secondly the amount of vineyards in the Northern Rhone is 3,000 hectares, which is the same amount as Chateauneuf-du-Pape alone, one single appellation of almost ten in the Southern Rhone. Thirdly the general approach for the Southern Rhone is for volume rather than quality, particularly for the Cotes-du-Rhone appellation, and there are only a few which go for quality above all else. In the Northern Rhone there is really only one appellation of eight that is more geared towards volume and compared to the Southern Rhone would be considered one of the quality appelations. In the Southern Rhone there is significantly more wine blended between areas than in the Northern Rhone, not to mention a great many more varieties blended, whereas in the north they really only use four and never blend more than two together. Probably the biggest difference is the amount of wine produced by cooperatives, much of which is sold to negociants within the Rhone Valley or outside of it and then bottled by someone else. Very rarely does wine get sold in bulk in the north; it is either sold as grapes or bottled wine. The first appointment I had for today was a negociant producer owning no vineyards (Tardieu-Laurent), and the other was the opposite, only producing wine from their vineyards in the Southern Rhone Valley (Vieux-Telegraphe).

Different sizes of barrels used to mature wine

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