Region Profile: Southern Rhône Valley
The Southern Rhône is a large, sprawling valley, shaped by the course of the Rhône River. A Mediterranean climate makes the Southern Rhône Valley one of the warmest wine growing regions in France.
While the Southern Rhône is celebrated for its high-quality red wine blends, it makes compelling white wines as well, though the whites account for a mere 5% of overall production.
Limited production combined with the acclaim the Southern Rhône enjoys from its famed red wines, means that very few are acquainted with the charms of the whites. Seek out Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, the obscure whites from this princely region are some of the very best the Southern Rhône has to offer.
Most Southern Rhône white wines are a blend of Roussanne and Marsanne and sometimes Viognier, though it is much more common to find Viognier bottled on its own. There are smaller plantings, as well, of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Picpoul.
White Rhônes offer a cacophony of aromas and flavors including ripe apricots, pears, honey, white flowers, citrus, spice and tree nuts. Full-bodied, dry and unctuously textured, they can be a bit tricky to match up with food. Try white fish in a rich cream sauce, dishes laden with North African spices, Thai cuisine, apple-based dishes, or soft-ripened cheeses.