Considering Rhone Blends

Learn about the three varieties that make up the wines of this region


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Considering Rhone Blends Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, we know more about these grapes than we might be aware of! Cotes du Rhone, Rhone rangers, and of course the GSM blends from Australia are all built on this fortunate trinity. Fortunate not only because they have come together nicely in various vineyards around the world, but also because they tend to work together exceptionally well, producing a wine that is more than the sum of its parts in places where each variety on its own might seem somehow incomplete.

From lowly Cotes du Rhone, to grand Chateauneuf-du-pape, this trio of grapes makes up some of the most familiar blends we all enjoy, from Grenache, with all its plum red fruit, and body benefits from the depth and darker fruit acidity, to the spice of Syrah, and the rich, tannin and earthy complexity contributed by Mourvedre. While there are additional varieties that add nuance to some of these wines, these three form the core of the typical Rhone blend.
Of course with today’s explosion of styles, many wines do not have all three of these varieties, substituting other varieties for the qualities they bring to the mix. This class of wines, loosely based on the Rhone Varieties, is as fascinating as it is broad, and worth taking a peek at.

Wine and Grape image via Shutterstock

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  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,085

    With so many grape varieties, the differences from one winery to another must be substantial. It appears that they may or may not start with the classic Rhone Trio blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. When a wjne maker adds much more than the classic trio or eliminates any of the trio, in favor of another variety, then the final wine should be labeled simply as a "Red Wine Blend".

    Jan 15, 2013 at 2:04 PM

  • With Israel's hot climate proving to be a great wine growing region for Rhone varieties, perhaps an Israeli Syrah should have been included here. After all, Decanter in 2010 recognized the Carmel SV Kayoumi Shiraz as the best Red Rhone variety over 10.00 Sterling.

    Jan 18, 2013 at 3:26 AM

  • Snooth User: penguinn
    807729 1

    Hard to imagine a discussion of Rhone varietals in the US without a mention of Tablas Creek Vineyards. Not only do they produce many fine examples of Rhone wines, they provide the vine stock to a great many other vineyards from their nursery.

    Jan 22, 2013 at 4:10 PM

  • Snooth User: gerrad
    79282 57

    u may be unaware 'zinfandel' but there are strict rules regarding varieties in the bottle and labelling requirements in most if not all global wine regions. the rhone has as many as 23 different varieties that can 'legally' be utilized...u want to relegate 20 of them to being called 'red wine blend'? ludicrous statement..are u going to put it on bordeaux blends as well?of course not. did u even read GDP's article at the end of the gallery?

    Jan 24, 2013 at 4:44 AM

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    Sep 12, 2018 at 1:55 AM

  • There is a Rhone blend from California called Enigma, which is interesting. One of the best winemakers in California, Heidi Barrett, makes a dry
    Muscat called Muscato Azule, which is absolutely wonderful.

    Oct 23, 2018 at 8:10 AM

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    Aug 22, 2019 at 11:08 AM

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