Matt Walls is a freelance wine expert and an award-winning wine writer and consultant. He is a contributing editor to Decanter, and writes regularly for timatkin.com and Club Oenologique. He is also the author of “Drink Me!” Which won the Fortnum & Mason ‘Best Newcomer’ Award, among others, and he wrote an opus on the Rhône Valley, “Wines of the Rhône,”** which is a brilliant book that has everything you want to know about the Rhône.
Matt judges wine competitions, presents amazing master classes, AND he’s probably the nicest person in the entire wine industry and fun too, as I learned when I met him in the Rhone in 2022 at an industry event in the Rhône.
Here are the show notes:
- Matt tells us about how meeting a French winemaker with breathtaking passion, and being outstanding at French led him to consider a career in wine.
- We discuss the research that went into “Wines of the Rhône,**”the most comprehensive look at every appellation in the Côtes du Rhône and the larger Rhône Valley.
We get into a lot of dorky details about the Rhône that Matt writes about (beautifully and succinctly) in the book. We cover:
- The complex geological history of the Rhône and all the “ingredients” that make the terroir what it is today
- The biggest differences between the northern and southern Rhône
- How climate change needs more attention from Rhône producers and how winegrowing and winemaking practices (trellising, too much destemming, the fashion of “phenolic ripeness”) have augmented the alcohol and “bigness” in many Rhone wines
- Irrigation and acidification and why each have their positives and negatives
- The grapes of the region, the diversity of those grapes ,and which will be the winners or losers in climate change
We discuss some specifics of the regions:
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape, specifically why there are so many different styles and why some are $20 and some are $500
- Crozes-Hermitage and how to find a good one (hint: Matt’s book is how you find a good one**! Matt mentions the town of Gervans as a granite area. Cave de Tain has good quality wines too)
- We touch on Côte Rôtie, Tavel, and Rhône whites
- Matt gives us a great tip: IGP Collines Rhodaniennes is for Northern Rhône wines that didn’t make the cut into Côte Rôtie, Condrieu or other northern appellations because the vines may be young, regulations are odd, or the harvest was plentiful and they had enough grape to be selective and put only the top grapes into the AOP wines.
To end, Matt tells us the areas he finds are highly underrated (Costieres di Nîmes, Luberon, Ventoux, Duché d’Uzès, Vacqueryas for white are mentioned) and he tells us some great tips to consider when traveling to the Rhône.
Matt’s book is a thoughtful and easy to read guide to this magnificent region, so if you want to get great wines from this area, which is packed with outstanding wines, many of them underpriced, his book needs to be on your shelf. I no longer shop for Rhône wines without consulting it.
Plus, he is such an awesome human we should all want to support his work!
**This is an affiliate link and I may earn a small commission if you buy through this link
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