Wines of the Rhône by Matt Walls


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Wines from Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage and Châteauneuf-du-Pape have made the Rhône Valley world famous. This may be a classic wine region but as Matt Walls reveals in Wines of the Rhône that doesn’t mean it is set in its ways. Change here is not only driven by innovations in winemaking and fashions in wine, it is also an essential response to a rapidly shifting climate which has seen temperatures rise significantly over the last 40 years and extreme weather events become more commonplace.

Walls provides a rounded picture of this large and complex region, which varies greatly along the 200-kilometre stretch of river, from Vienne in the north to Provence in the south. Beginning with a vivid journey through the terrain, he explores one of the region’s constants, its varied geology, before moving on to the pressing issue of climate. A short tour through the Rhône’s winemaking history, from early Greek settlers to the modern industry, is followed by vignettes of all the AOC-permitted grapes and an explanation of the five levels of the region’s appellation system.

While the region contains some of the world’s most recognizable appellations, there are also many that are less well-known. Walls encourages readers to venture beyond the famous crus, making it easy for those eager to explore by detailing the terroir of every appellation and describing and assessing typical wines. Profiles of 200 key producers complete the picture. Boxes throughout the text provide interesting asides on current issues as well as key appellation facts, while an appendix on ageing wines offers a guide to the last 40 vintages.

This comprehensive examination of a renowned region is an ideal introduction for those new to the Rhône, while providing fresh insights for long-time admirers of the wines.

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