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Rhône Méridional

French name for the southern Rhône; see there.

Over 800 kilometres long, the Rhône is one of the most important wine rivers in the world. Like all watercourses, it has a positive effect on viticulture and creates the conditions for this by forming valley slopes, some of which are very steep. The river rises at the Furka Pass as a glacial stream in the Swiss Alps of Uri, flows through the canton of Valais and Lake Geneva under the name Rotten, crosses the French border, turns south from Lyon and flows into the Mediterranean south of Arles-sur-Rhône. In the 6th century BC, the Greeks founded the Rhône. The Greeks founded the city of Marseille (Massilia) at the mouth of the Rhône in the 6th century BC and brought the grapevine to the valley. The Celts (Gauls) also cultivated vines in what are now the Côte Rôtie and Hermitage appellations (Crozes-Hermitage). It is said that they taught the Romans the art of refinement.

The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (23-79) reports on a grape variety called Allobrogica, which was allegedly cultivated here by the Celtic tribe of Allobroges. At the beginning of the second century, the area became part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. Many finds of amphorae, statues of the wine god Bacchus and mosaics with wine motifs bear witness to Roman viticulture. Many exhibits are on display in the "Musée de la Civilisation Gallo-Romaine" in Lyon. At the beginning of the 14th century, the papal court was moved to Avignon, where seven popes reigned from 1309 to 1377. This gave a strong boost to viticulture, as the majority of the wine served at the papal table came from the Rhône Valley. The name Châteauneuf-du-Pape is derived from the castle of Pope John XXII (1245-1334), which he had built as a summer residence north of Avignon.

The Rhône wine-growing region

The Rhône wine-growing region or "La Vallée du Rhône" refers to the approximately 200 kilometre stretch from Lyon southwards to Avignon in south-east France. There are around 80,000 hectares of vineyards on both sides of the Rhône and its tributaries, spread across the six départements of Ardèche, Drôme, Gard, Loire, Rhône and Vaucluse. But only a small area in the far north lies in the Rhône department and, surprisingly, 70% of the production of its northern neighbour Burgundy comes from this area. For over 150 kilometres, the Rhône runs parallel to the Loire, which gave the eastern region its name. The two rivers are only around 50 kilometres apart along this stretch, but flow in...

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Dominik Trick

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Dominik Trick
Technischer Lehrer, staatl. geprüfter Sommelier, Hotelfachschule Heidelberg

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