The Rhone valley is a famous wine region in South-East of France and follows the Rhone River as it flows from the city of Lyon to the Mediterranean Sea.
The various AOC wines of the valley are produced in over 6,000 properties. However, in 2004, 10 new appellations were added to the region, including 9 in the Gard and one in Vaucluse. The region though does not have a “grand Crus” classification like Bordeaux or Burgundy. However, the wine producing part is so big that there is a widely accepted division between its northern and southern parts. This division is reflected by the geography and the difference entailed in the grape varieties. The quality and quantity of the wines are greatly altered by the geographical location as well. The northern (but smaller) section is mostly of Syrah for red wines and Viognier and Marsanne (less famous grapes) for whites..
The South uses Grenache and Mourvedre grapes, which, combined to Syrah, produce the GSM blend that is the characteristic of the southern Rhone. The North is also a more continental climate, with rocky, sandy soils while the South enjoys a warmer Mediterranean climate.
The appellation Cotes du Rhone Villages however is strictly restricted to villages whose terroirs produces wine of a slightly better quality.