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The 22 Rhone Ranger Grapes
The Rhone Rangers dedicate themselves to the grapes whose ancestral home is in France's Rhone Valley. The French government recognizes 22 varieties in the various appellations that comprise this large and diverse wine-growing region. Rhone Appellations (including Cote Rotie, Hermitage, Condrieu, Chateuneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Bandol, Cotes du Rhone and several others) each choose a different subset from the collection of grapes known (from their place of origin) as Rhone varietals. For a wine to be considered a “Rhone Ranger” wine, and poured at an official Rhone Rangers tasting, the 22 recognized accepted varieties must comprise at least 75% of the blend.
The most common red Rhone varietals are Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre, with Syrah predominant in the Northern Rhone and Grenache in the Southern Rhone. Other relatively common red grapes include Cinsault, Carignan, and Petite Sirah. Finally, the list includes some grapes that are found only in trace amounts even in France, and are just beginning to be explored in the United States, including Counoise, Muscardin, Picpoul Noir, Vaccarese, and Terret Noir. For the sticklers out there, the Rhone Rangers have adopted Petite Sirah, a French cross also known as Durif, due to its extensive interplanting with traditional Rhone varietals in Calfiornia. Learn more about these red Rhone grape varieties!
The principal white Rhone varietals are Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, each found throughout the Rhone Valley, with Grenache Blanc a widely planted but less well known contributor in the Southern Rhone. The other white grapes include Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanc, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Picardin, Picpoul/Piquepoul Blanc, and Ugni Blanc. Learn more about these white Rhone grape varieties.
Rhone Grape Resources
Want to learn more about Rhone varietals? Check out our grape of the month feature.
Interested in food pairing and recipes? Check out our Rhone food and wine guide.
Hosting a tasting of Rhone Ranger wines at your home? Check out our Rhone Ranger Event Starter Kit.
Hanker for wines from Rhone Ranger grapes? Come to a Rhone Rangers tasting!