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Varietal > Rhône-style Red Blend
Wine Grape Varietals 101

Rhône-style Red Blend

What is Rhône-style Red Blend

Rhône-style red blends are wines that are made in the style of the wines of France’s Southern Rhône Valley. These red wines are typically made using Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault, although other secondary grape varieties may be used, too.

Although the term originated in France and was used to describe the wines of a particular winemaking region, Rhône-style red blends now refers broadly, to any blended red wine made using the traditional grape varieties of the Rhône appellations.

There are approximately fourteen red grape varieties used in Southern Rhône red blends, including Calitor, Carignan, Cinsault, Clairette Rose, Counoise, Grenache, Marselan, Mourvèdre, Muscardin, Muscat Noir, Piquepoul Noir, Syrah, Terret Noir and Vaccarèse. White grapes may also be included in these red wine blends, including Bourboulenc, Clairette Blanche, Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Marsanne, Picpoul, Roussane, Ungi Blanc and Viognier. These grapes all perform differently in the vineyard, and all have varying visual appearances. Muscat Noir, for instance, is a lighter-skinned grape with large berries, while Muscardin is nearly black with thick, pigmented skin.

What these grapes do all share, however, is their affinity for the same broad type of climate. These blending varieties thrive in hot, sunny climates with good drainage and some cooling elements. In the Southern Rhône, relief from the heat comes in the form of Le Mistral, a wind system so famous in the region that it has its own name.


Vines in Southern Rhône were first planted around 400 B.C., but the region’s winemaking popularity began far later.

Today, the region boasts thousands of winegrowers and over 100 growing cooperatives.

The wines of the south make up the lion’s share of the region’s winemaking, owing, in large part, to the Côtes du Rhône appellation, which covers both areas but has far larger production in the Southern Rhône.

Of the approximately four million hectoliters of wine produced each year in the Rhône Valley, around half falls under the Côtes du Rhône and Côtes du Rhône Villages designations. These wines tend to be Grenache-dominant, although they are permitted to include all of the red varieties, as well as some white, like Grenache Blanc.

United States

Some of the most well-known Rhône-style red wines come from California, where a group of winemakers—John Alban, Joseph Phelps, Randall Grahm, and Steve Edmunds, among others—began planting Rhône varieties in their vineyards in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Those winemakers became known as the Rhône Rangers, and their Rhône-style blends set the bar for other winemaking regions interested in replicating the wine style of the Rhône Valley. The wines from Alban Vineyards, Qupé, Tablas Creek, Bonny Doon and Edmunds St. John are among the more famous California wineries producing wines made with Rhône varieties.

Global Production

Rhône-style red blends are also being produced in other American regions, like Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Michigan. In Australia, a warm climate lends success to the variety Syrah, more widely known there as Shiraz, which is also blended with other grapes into Rhône-style red blends. Shiraz often takes on a large role in these blends, which are often referred to as G-S-M, as they are often a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.


G-S-M Blend, S-G-M Blend, Shiraz Blends

Rhône-style Red Blend grapes are found in red, and dessert wines.

Structural Characteristics

Low Medium High
Alcohol levels
Low Medium High
Low Medium High
Tannin Structure
Low Medium High

Examples of Rhône-style Red Blend to Try

Handling Tips

60-68°F / 16-20°C
5-15 years