The Rhône Valley in southern France is one of the world’s most famous wine regions, home to appellations like Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes-du-Rhône, Côte Rotie, Hermitage and Tavel. The Rhône region is actually split into two areas with distinct topographies and climates. The sunbaked hillsides of the southern Rhône are ideal for growing grapes like Grenache, Mourvédre and Syrah, and nearly all Rhône Valley red wines are comprised of varying blends of these three. The verdant valleys of the northern Rhône are known for producing white grape varietals like Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne. While you will see some blending of these white varietals, it’s less common than with the reds.Southern Rhône reds are juicy and complex, with a shot of spice and earthiness. Tannins are generally low, making these good starter-red wines as well as good summertime reds. The whites tend to be dry, medium-bodied and minerally, with floral aromas. Most have good balanced acidity, which makes them easy to match with a range of foods. Rhône Valley red wines are also some of the best bargains in the wine market today, suffering from difficult to pronounce names and from living in the shadow of big-hitters like Bordeaux and Burgundy. White Rhône varietals tend to be a little more expensive, but bargains can be found with a little digging. Blends, in general, are less expensive.

Supreme Court Rules on Wine Shipping
As you’ve probably heard by now, the Supreme Court ruled this week on the constitutionality of the State of Michigan’s (and 23 other states’) ban on out-of-state wine shipments. The Court ruled 5-4 that it is unconstitutional for a state to ban shipments from out-of-sate wineries while allowing shipments from in-state wineries.This decision is a great thing for consumers who currently cannot purchase wine directly from wineries outside of Michigan or online businesses, but it’s still too early to break out the Champagne. The Michigan lawmakers will still have the final say, and may decide to ban wine shipments to consumers altogether (in-state and out-of-state). We’ll continue to keep you posted.

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