Chateau Grillet: The tiny single-producer appellation, Neyret-Gachet releases 10,000 bottles each year. This wine is produced partially with oak aging, which adds richness similar to a full-bodied Chardonnay.
Saint-Joseph: Some of the best values of the Northern Rhône exist along this 30-mile stretch that is Saint-Joseph. Of course, due to the large size of the region, you’ll want to be choosy. The wines of St.-Joseph range in taste from spicy flavors of black olive and black pepper to richer, more complex wines similar to those found in Côte Rôtie.
Crozes-Hermitage: The largest appellation in the Northern Rhône and also easily confused with Hermitage (the fine wine micro-region), Crozes-Hermitage wines range in quality from simple food wines to awesome Syrahs. The major difference you’ll see here is in tartness due to Crozes-Hermitage’s position on the East bank of the river.
Hermitage: The hill of Hermitage is famous for its emboldened Syrah wines that usually need around 5–10 years before you open them. When you do, you’ll be greeted with heady aromas and layered flavors blackberry, black currant, licorice, coffee, candied cherry, and smoke. Besides Syrah, the hill also produces some outstanding age-worthy white wines that are a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne. Wines from L’Ermitage do not come cheap for two reasons: one, the wines are consistently ranked as the best in the Northern Rhône, and two, Hermitage has a storied history, which can make tasting these wines feel a bit mystical.
Cornas: Typically the boldest and most tannic of all the Northern Rhône Syrah wines, Cornas delivers tongue-staining flavors of blackberry jam, black pepper, violet, charcoal, chalk dust, and smoke followed up with grippy intense tannins. Most will recommend waiting about a decade for the tannins to soften and the wines to reveal more kirsch and licorice flavors. However, some of the producers have started practicing more modern techniques to deliver a softer, smoother wine right on release.