The most extensive cru of the Northern Rhône is Saint-Joseph (+ 1,200 hectares in 2013, spread over 26 municipalities), which is situated on the right bank between Chavanay and Valance. Most of the vineyards are located on hillside terraces, and the amount of sun exposure they receive varies widely. The soil in the north is mostly gneiss and granite; in the south it is slightly more marl and granite-based. As a result the wines generally have a finer structure and higher acidity.
The red Saint-Joseph, which accounts for over 90% of the wine produced here is made of 100% syrah, although since 1980 it has been possible to add 10% roussanne or marsanne. In general, the red wines from the north and the south have different characters (the transition occurs more or less at Sarras). The southern wines have hints of red currants, tar and smoke, with good acidity and ripe tannin. The wines from the north are less full-bodied: the hints of darker berries, mint and green pepper, as well as the greater astringency of the tannin produce more tauter wines.
The white wines include the occasional cépage, or blend, of marsanne and roussanne. The marsanne thrives in a dry soil, a leaner structure and a nutty (hazelnut) aroma. The roussane is a less demanding, and is rounder with lower acidity and, apricot aromas. Although the white Saint-Joseph is gaining popularity, it still accounts for only 10% of the total production.
This appellation is still adding surface area, primarily in the direction of the river. The soil here is considerably richer due to alluvial deposits; the wines are generally of lower quality, but they serve their purpose in blends.