The Rhone Valley follows the Rhone river from the north just south of Lyon and ending 125 miles later just south of Avignon near the Mediterranean. There are well over 20 grape varieties used in the production of Rhone wines with each appellation having rules permitting the use of only certain grapes. The major red grape variety in Southern Rhone wines is Grenache followed by Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre. The major white grape varieties in white wines of the Rhone are Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, Bourboulenc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.
The major appellations (or AOC's) in the Southern Rhone wine region are: Cotes du Rhone (the lowest classification and allowed for use in all 171 communes in the Northern and Southern Rhone), Cotes du Rhone Villages, Cotes du Rhone Villages (with the name of the particular village placed after), Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, and Gigondas. Most of the red wines in the south are dominated by the Grenache grape. The sweet wines called Beaumes de Venise or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, and dry rose; wines of Tavel should also be noted.
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