One of France's most exciting red wine appellations, lies in the far north of the northern Rhone, well beyond the town of Tain where the major negociants and Hermitage is located. Some believe it is the site of the first vineyard cultivation in ancient Gaul. Vineyards have been carved into the steep hillsides here since the time the Romans settled the nearby town of Vienne. Viticulture is difficult here, with vines planted in schist banked high above the Rhone River to maximize sun exposure.
The Rhone Valley of southern France is a particularly fascinating wine region, with a history that stretches back to at least six hundred BCE, when the ancient Greeks first began cultivating vines there. The region itself is split into two distinct sub-regions, with the northern sub-region being famed for its production of exceptional Syrah, Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier wines, packed full of interesting character and expressing the terroir found there. The southern sub-region is home to an enormous variety of grapes, and produces red, white and rosé wines, and some of the world's most famous and adored blended wines. The continental climate of the region is ideal for growing grapes, and the winds which blow from the Central Massif help temper the heat in the vineyards, leading to very ripe fruits holding plenty of flavor.