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Rhône White Wine Style Guide

Last updated: 9/2021

Applies to: winemakers looking to make Rhône style white wines from traditional cultivars grown in the Rhône valley in a variety of styles from fruity and floral to toasty and spicy. This article contains a pdf download with complete process and product recommendations.

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Rhône WHITE WINE STYLE GUIDE

Winemakers can drive wine style based on key processing decisions and correct product choice. We created these Scott Labs wine style guides to provide both process and product recommendations for helping winemakers achieve their stylistic goals.

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Rhône White Wines

Learn how we think about "Rhône White Wines" to determine if this style guide is right for you

Definition

Rhône whites and similar white wines are uniquely aromatic and full-bodied and have the potential for barrel aging. While often blended, they make excellent varietal wines as well.

Common Varieties

Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Picpoul blanc, Grenache blanc, Muscat blanc à Petits Grains, Some hybrid cultivars like Frontenac gris and Traminette.

Unique Winemaking Considerations

Creating aromatic complexity

Although these wines can be bottled as single cultivars, they are most often blended to create layers of complexity. Accentuating and/or introducing aroma compounds through specific viticultural and winemaking practices can help drive wine style and create unique blending components.

Preserving aromatics

Each step in the winemaking process is focused on driving wine style so the aromatic complexity is long lasting and can withstand potentially longer periods before bottling.

Dealing with long hang times

These varieties often have longer hang times than many other white grapes, meaning higher sugars at harvest, higher final alcohol, and high pH. Choosing a yeast with high polysaccharide production and treatments like lees stirring may be considered to integrate alcohol. Potassium is released at pressing and can affect pH/buffer capacity so press fractions should be monitored.

Managing phenolics

These grape varieties have a propensity to extract more phenolics at pressing. It is therefore important to manage press fractions.

Style-specific winemaking practices

Depending on style, these wines may undergo processes not typical for most white wine production including malolactic fermentation and barrel aging.

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Full-Bodied Red Wines