Côtes du Rhône septentrionales Between Vienne and Avignon, over a distance of about 200 km, the Rhone vineyards spread their numerous appellations along the eponymous river. As far as the northern part is concerned, we are in one of the cradles of winegrowing. These vineyards, located between Vienne and Cornas, were probably the source of the famous vinum picatum, which the Romans were particularly fond of, as early as the end of the 1st century B.C. Côte-RôtieSituated on the right bank of the Rhône, a stone's throw from Vienne, it is one of the jewels of the region. Its steep slopes are one of the chosen areas for Syrah, or Serine. From a pedological point of view, the northern part is based on micaschists and produces deep, spicy, full-bodied wines that need time to develop. The southern part is based on leucogneiss and migmatites which give more immediate and perfumed wines, in which viognier is often blended with syrah, reinforcing the aromatic potential of the wines.CondrieuThe white twin of Côte-Rôtie, the appellation almost disappeared! Phylloxera, the First World War, the crisis of the 1930s and the industrialisation of the valley almost led to its abandonment. In the 1950's, there were only about ten hectares left cultivated in Condrieu, Vérin and Saint-Michel. Maintained all the same by a few passionate winegrowers, including Georges Vernay, the vineyard was reborn in the 1980s. On granite and gneiss soils, the exuberant Viognier is adorned with a subtlety and freshness that is only known here, with in addition a potential for ageing far superior to what was claimed for a long time.Saint-JosephFrom Chavanay in the north to Guilherand in the south, the appellation's vineyards extend over some fifty kilometres on the right bank of the Rhône. It covers 23 communes in the Ardèche and 3 in the Loire. It is planted on steep slopes, shaped into terraces since ancient times. Formerly called "Vin de Mauves", it was the Jesuits who, in the 17th century, gave it its current name. The appellation is known for its fragrant Syrahs, which are more or less structured depending on the soil, and its rich, textured Roussanne and/or Marsanne whites.HermitageThis is one of the most prestigious appellations in France. The total surface area of the appellation (130 ha) was delimited in 1937 by judgement and cannot be extended. From a pedological point of view, the vineyard shows an exceptional diversity of soils. Originally, the hill of Tain is a block of porphyroid granite detached from the Massif Central. It can be divided into 3 parts: the original Tournon granite formation on the west side, which includes the Bessards and La Chapelle districts; loess soils found more on the upper part of the hill; and finally various formations resulting from the river terraces of the Rhône. In all cases, a red Hermitage is a wine for long ageing, with more spice and structure if it comes from a granitic matrix, or more fruit and sweetness if it comes from the other types of soil. For white wines, if the vinification and maturing have not worn out the raw material, one can appreciate in time opulent but fine, gastronomic wines! Crozes-HermitageA few hundred yards from the Hermitage hill is the largest vineyard of the northern appellations, on 11 communes of the Drôme. A challenge vintage, it is made from the same grape varieties as Saint-Joseph. The northern sector touches Hermitage and is based on granitic rock. It produces rather structured and spicy wines, to be kept. The rest of the appellation gives more immediate and greedy wines, but not necessarily less profound. The white wines are rich, tender and spontaneous, and can be drunk young.CornasLocated in the "south of the north", this cru of character is one of the most fascinating. The vineyard is located on the western slope of the Massif Central, in the commune of the same name. The steep slopes, facing east and south-east, form natural amphitheatres which protect the vines from the Mistral. Syrah, the only grape variety in the appellation, expresses all its wild originality here, but without losing its finesse when the granite is allowed to express itself.Côtes du Rhône méridionales Powerful, greedy, sunny, the red wines of the region offer a diverse palette. More than 20 red and white grape varieties cohabit here. With the Roussillon, Grenache has found its most favourable area of expression. It produces wines that are full-bodied, generous and richly textured, but which, when they are well made, manage to retain their freshness. Châteauneuf-du-Pape The geological formation of the Castelpapal vineyards is the result of various upheavals dating back to the secondary and tertiary eras. Thus we find here terroirs corresponding to distinct geological formations. We can distinguish at least five of them:The pebbles rolled on red clay, such as those found on the famous Crau plateau;The sandy areas which are generally found on the breaks in the plateau. These are atypical terroirs, like Rayas, but where Grenache acquires a great deal of finesse;Pebbles on a subsoil of blue clay, which is totally impermeable;A gravelly-silted area located towards the Sorgues part, in the south of the appellation;Limestone outcrops found in several places in the appellation.Whether it comes from a single type of terroir or a blend, a great Châteauneuf is a wine that combines power and elegance, with great ageing potential, and that transforms over the years its youthful richness and opulence into a remarkably fine and complex wine.Around the Dentelles de MontmirailA few miles from the Ventoux, not to say on its foothills, some excellent communal crus (Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Cairanne, Vinsobres, Beaumes-de-Venise) rub shoulders with Côtes-du-Rhône bearing the name of their villages and which are distinguished by their diversity and, for the best of them, by a strong character and interesting ageing potential, notably Séguret, Sablet. We have a soft spot for the region's highest altitude terroirs, marked by the seal of freshness and often also of limestone, such as Gigondas, Beaumes-de-Venise and even certain sectors in the Côtes-du-Ventoux appellations.