The Rhône River Valley & GSM -- The Other Red Blend from France

Last time we looked at red wine blends from Bordeaux. Their blends are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

But, there is another wine region in France that produces great red wine blends, and that's the Rhône River Valley in Southern France.

While there are nearly twenty different grapes grown in the Rhône valley, there are really just three varieties that define their wine. They are Granche, Syrah and Mourvèdre And the wine made from these three grapes, known as GSM, is their signature wine blend. These are full-bodied blends with big dark fruit flavors, great depth and a bit of spiciness. 

Grenache, which contributes red fruit flavors and spice, is widespread in southern France. In Spain, where it is known as Garnacha, it is part of the Rioja blend. Mourvèdre is also found in Spain where it is known as Monastrell. It gives tannins, color and great aging capability to the wine. Syrah, with its bold structure and dark fruit, is very much a French variety and is the primary grape of the northern Rhone Valley.

The bottom line to wine blends, whether from Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, or anywhere else, is that by blending different grapes, winemakers have greater creative control of their final product.

So, look for a GSM from the Rhône Valley which may be identified as 'Cote du Rhône' or 'Cotes du Rhône Villages' on the label. These are great wines that can be found at affordable prices. If you are looking for some fine GSM wines, look for the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region specifically on the label.