The Côtes du Rhône Septentrional vineyards are primarily located on the hills on the right bank of the Rhone between Vienne and Valence. In addition to the eight crus, which are, from north to south: Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Château Grillet, Saint-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Cornas and Saint-Péray, the region also produces Indication Géographique Protégée IGP-quality, the most interesting being Collines Rhodaniennes. The character of the wines is highly influenced by the area’s continental climate, with its warm, relatively dry summers, cold winters with frequent frost and snow, and by the amount of granite and other composite minerals in the soil.
All red Côtes du Rhône Septentrionales wines are based on the syrah grape and, depending on the regulations of each AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controllée), may be made up of no more than 10-20% of specified white grape varieties. Condrieu is a cépage made of 100% viognier. In contrast, the white wines from Saint-Joseph, (Crozes)-Hermitage and Saint-Péray are often a blend of marsanne and roussane. The maximum yield in the Northern Rhone is relatively low (between 25 and 25 hl/ha), and as result the average quality of the wines produced there is relatively high.
The leading cru is without a doubt Hermitage. Due to the small annual production (± 50,000 hl) and a high level of global demand, these wines are scarce and relatively expensive. The most productive cru is Crozes-Hermitage, followed by Saint-Joseph. Both appellations have been able to expand their surface area over the past decades, mainly in the direction of the river. The average quality of the wines there is significantly lower.