The most prestigious whites are probably the Viogniers from Condrieu and Château Grillet. Though you'll also find Roussane and Marsanne. In the Northern Rhône, the Cru appellations produce premium wines with prices to match. It's here you'll find the Syrah-Viognier blend at eye-watering prices in Côte-Rotie, and other elegant Syrahs in Cornas and Saint-Joseph. Moving down the valley into the Southern Rhône, you'll find basic Côtes-du-Rhône at affordable prices, with 18 named villages presenting their Grenache based blends in either Côtes-du-Rhône Villages wines, or, in named village appellations (and at somewhat higher prices) you'll find most of the "Cru" (or premium named sites which have been given AOC status) such as Gigondas, and the renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Variety also comes from sweet wines made in Rasteau, and the world famous Muscat de Beaume-de-Venise, while Tavel is the only appellation in the Rhône Valley which produces nothing but rosé wine.
There really is something for everyone. To find out more, or to see a map of the appellations and how they fit into the area between Lyon and the Mediterranean, visit http://www.rhone-wines.com/ for resources on tourism in the area. There's also lots of information on the key wines of this diverse region.
Vacqueyras is one of the Cru or premium appellations upgraded from Côtes-du-Rhône Villages status in 1990. This example is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre - all 3 of which are often known by other names when grown elsewhere. For example, Grenache becomes Garnacha and Mourvèdre becomes Monastrell in Spain, or Mataro in Australia, while robuster, forms of Syrah with more black pepper than violet are known as Shiraz across the wine producing world. Together, you'll find GSM blends from Australia, South Africa and other new world wine producers, but it's here on the Rhône valley that this blend first came to prominence, and, some would argue, where it finds it's best expressions.
So what to expect from this wine..
It's surprisingly smooth. There's quite a lot if tannin but that's well integrated and with the acidity, the wines keep reasonably well. Still, it's clearly a "Big Red" with a high Purple Teeth (alert your dentist) rating as it's dark colours really will stain. There is a core of blackcurrant cassis and some dark red fruit, but the key delivery is the layers of spice, from pepper to liquorice. And though it packs an alcoholic punch at 14,5% it's well balanced and doesn't burn. It's a pleasing wine that would pair well with anything from spaghetti meatballs to Sunday roast. Cheaper than a Châteauneuf-du-Pape but a serious cut above a basic Côtes-du-Rhône, it's worth a try if you like hearty, spicy reds. It's riches complement a winter evening with mulled wine scented candles, fireside movies and warm blankets. My feeling is that this example would improve with further aging. At £17.99, I think Naked have over-priced this wine, though the Angel price of £12.49 is a bit more realistic. You'll struggle to find much at that price in specialist wine retailers. According to the labeling, the winemaker is in transition to sustainable practices if that's the sort of thing that grabs you.
Vacqueyras isn't really a supermarket wine, so if you would like to treat yourself to some, Morrisons are the only grocers where I found one for sale at the rather hefty price of £28.99 for the Domaine la Garrigue Vacqueyras 2009. Perhaps a better starting point may be the Majestic offering at £17.49 of the Vacqueyras Pavane 2011 La Bastide Saint Vincent. I can't vouch for either as I've not yet tasted them.