The two wine regions commonly known as the northern and southern Rhône are like distant cousins, bound only by the eponymous river and the cold, northerly wind known as the Mistral. Even these two common threads turn abruptly in the space of just 50 kilometres between Valence and Montélimar – the Rhône widens and slows, while the Mistral accelerates as both water and wind funnel out towards the Mediterranean.
The traditional vine training systems attest to the difference in wind speed, with vines climbing up (and above) posts on leeward slopes in the north, and bush vines pruned close to the ground in the south. Unsurprisingly, the two regions produce distinct red wines, especially in the way they age. In the north, Syrah’s natural acidity and tannins (especially when fermented in whole bunches, as is traditional) frame its development, while the blended wines more typical of the south draw on the sweetness and fat of the generous Grenache. The whites also differ, but more in degree than in kind. The natural flamboyance and richness of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne is restrained in the northern Rhône’s continental climate, and counterbalanced by more neutral varieties (e.g. Clairette, Bourbolenc, Picpoul Blanc etc.) in the south.
Amidst this diversity, we are delighted to be working with Eric Texier, an old friend, and Helen Durand of Domaine du Trapadis. Both have exceptional vineyards outside of the well-known appellations, from which they make equally exceptional wines.