Rhone Valley
There are really two Rhônes, the north and the south, which should be thought of as two regions with differing climates, producing distinctively different wines from different grape varieties. In the cooler north, vineyards only prosper on dramatically steep slopes and the wines they produce are among the most concentrated and exotic in the world. Bottlings from appellations such as Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, and Condrieu can command high prices and are in short supply. It is these appellations that supply the Rhône's most sought-after wines.

Directly south, two hour's drive along the highway from the northernmost Côte-Rôtie sector of the Rhône valley, the onset of the southern Rhône heralds a change in climate and the graduation to the more dramatic and colorful southern French landscape. Here, the sprawling Côte-du-Rhône vineyards and highly distinctive "rock desert" vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape produce large volumes of wine of much more variable quality. Potentially, the southern Rhône offers the best possibilities to the selective, value-conscious consumer looking for everyday affordability. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the producers) in recent years sharp price increases have been seen in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the most glamorous of the southern Rhône's sub-regions, and these estate wines are often not quite the bargain they were a few short years ago. (Wine/Appellations)