The Rhône Valley produces wines that are distinctively more down-to-earth than those of Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Rhône is subdivided by location into northern and southern.

In the north, Viognier’s best expression, the coveted Condrieu, is the primary white wine. But little-known whites from Hermitage can be even more outstanding. Mainly, though, Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie are known for their pungent Syrahs, often considered the world’s best.

The southern Rhône is more known for GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre) blends, such as those found in Châteauneauf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Vacqueyras. Châteauneuf is one of the most varied French appellations, producing wines ranging from $15 bargain bottles to among the best boutique wines in the world.