The Rhone Valley PDO produce some of the most popular wines in the world.
After Bordeaux, it is the largest region of controlled designation of France (4M hl of wines, 95% red) and is divided into 2 distinct sub-regions:
- Northern Rhone Valley, the most prestigious, notably includes the Côte Rôtie, Saint Joseph, Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas, Condrieu, Saint Peray designations and is known for the quality and longevity of its wines. Its climate is continental, soils are steep, mostly granitic and the grape varieties used are Syrah for the reds and Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne for the whites.
- Southern Rhone Valley, the most extensive, produces Cotes du Rhone AC, Cotes du Rhone Villages AC for the most qualitative, and municipal appellations, the most famous being Chateauneuf du Pape. Its climate is Mediterranean, the soils more stony and the grape varieties used more numerous. Grenache, 65% of the planted vineyard, is the most important, followed by Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault, Mourvedre and many other local grape varieties. The marginal production of whites comes from grenache blanc, clairette, bourboulenc, marsanne, roussanne, muscat and viognier.