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Collines Rhodaniennes

Collines Rhodaniennes is the IGP title for red, white and rosé wines from an area which essentially corresponds to the northern Rhône Valley wine region of eastern France. The catchment area for this title stretches from Lyon in the north to Montelimar in the south, an area that is also home to some of southern France’s most famous AOC appellations, including Côte Rôtie, Condrieu and Hermitage.

The landscape of the Collines Rhodaniennes is characterised by the hills and valleys that surround the Rhône river. The Massif Central lies to the west and the embryonic foothills of the Alps to the east, with the Rhône river carving its way through the sandstone, limestone and granite between them. The presence of these different stone types is reflected in the route of the Rhône. Sandstone and limestone provide less resistance than granite, which visibly alters the path of the river. The bend around the granite hill of Hermitage is a prime example of this.

This topography – and the geology that created it – makes for a complex patchwork of terroirs. The local continental climate means warm, dry summers and cold winters, influenced by the strong winds, such as the Mistral, which bowls down the Rhône at speeds of up to 55mph (90km/h). Some diurnal temperature variation in the north of the area contributes to the balanced aromatics in the wines made there, and temperatures in the sunny south are cooled by the winds.

The Collines Rhodaniennes IGP denomination is widely used by producers in the region, often alongside AOC-classified wines in portfolios. The IGP offers growers a larger production area than those of the small, high-quality AOC titles here, and also provides more freedom when it comes to winemaking methods and grape variety selections.

Unsurprisingly, given the area from which it comes, a large proportion of Collines Rhodaniennes IGP wine is made from the key northern Rhône grape varieties. Syrah is widely planted here and is often complemented with a small addition of Viognier (the classic Côte Rôtie blend), but Gamay also plays an important role. Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon complete the "international" grape repertoire, borrowed from Burgundy and Bordeaux respectively.

The white wines (which have a much smaller representation than the reds) are dominated by the key Rhône varieties Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Jacquere, the white specialty grape of Savoie, makes an appearance exclusively in the Collines Rhodaniennes wines made in the Isere department.

The IGP was previously known as Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes. However, as the Vin de Pays category was replaced in 2009 with the European Union's equivalent Indication Géographique Protégée, the name of the denomination has been altered slightly. Many of the conditions of the appellation have remained the same.

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