There are places where, when you think of their wine, one colour comes immediately to mind.

White in New Zealand, for example, or pink in Provence.

For France's Rhône Valley, red flashes up. But all these impressions don't properly reflect the truth.

Let's consider the Rhône, particularly as there's a lot of promotional activity at the moment for this area, whose production runs from enjoyable wines for drinking in relaxed social situations to very fine bottles yet to hit the sky-high prices of some other trendy places.

Hackney Gazette: Spectacular scenery in Baumes de Venise.Spectacular scenery in Baumes de Venise. (Image: © Christophe Grilhé, Inter-Rhône)

Three-quarters of the region's wines are red, but as overall output is massive that leaves some 82 million bottles that aren't. More are rosé than white, but both need to be better appreciated.

Among the rosés, there's one that is rather special, deep-coloured Tavel, blending nine grape varieties and the only French appellation to make only pink wine. But more of that in a later, rosé-specific column.

More and more, I'm enjoying the whites. They're found all along the valley, from the steep northern slopes to the broader, flatter areas of the south.

Climate and geology vary too. Those natural factors, plus many independent-minded vignerons, lead to variety enough to suit most drinkers' tastes.Hackney Gazette: A fine example of a white wine from the usually red-producing Cotes-du-RhoneA fine example of a white wine from the usually red-producing Cotes-du-Rhone (Image: Courtesy of the producer)

In the north, viognier is the only grape allowed in Condrieu, often fabulous (and fabulously expensive). Intriguingly, it's a very close relative of syrah, so predominant in the upper valley.

Marsanne and roussanne appear there too, both individually and combined.

Further south, blends rule, with grenache blanc often the biggest component alongside a multitude of other grapes such as clairette, vermentino and bourboulenc as well as the northern varieties.

Then there's small-berried, high-quality muscat à petit grains, the grape of sweet Muscat de Baumes de Venise, made by stopping fermentation before yeast has consumed all the natural sugar.

"It's complicated to grow, but is in comparable in aroma and finesse," vigneron Claude Chabran, who has been championing this wine for more than 25 years, told me on a recent visit to London.

He points out that Baumes de Venise is always fresh - thanks to the altitude of the vineyards, rising to 250 metres above the Mediterranean.

"The wines are extraordinary and charming - you don't need to be a specialist to enjoy them. And there is a renewed interest in them now."

A big downside for would-be consumers of these and other fine Rhône whites is that it can be hard to find them here. Three excellent sources are Yapp Brothers, The Wine Society and Lay & Wheeler, but search too wherever you buy wine and on Gazette: Baumes de Venise is made by stopping fermentation before yeast has consumed all the natural sugar.Baumes de Venise is made by stopping fermentation before yeast has consumed all the natural sugar. (Image: Courtesy of the producer)

Here are some recommendations. Sweet first: the golden, spice-and-marmalade scented Domaine des Bernadins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise (£22, £14.90 half-bottle, which has exactly that freshness Chabran emphasises.

Three tempting dry whites, all with crisp, tasty fruit and plenty of character: Delas Frères Saint Esprit (£13-£15,,,, M Chapoutier Adunatio (£14, Paul Jaboulet Ainé Parallèle Bio (£13 Gazette: One of Liz's supermarket wine recommendations for June barbecuesOne of Liz's supermarket wine recommendations for June barbecues (Image: Courtesy of the producer)

There's great fizz, as well, from the small, white-only appellation of Saint-Péray. Les Bulles d'Alain 2016 (£24-£25, shows off marsanne with bubbly elegance, great value.

To learn more, buy, beg or borrow Wines of the Rhône by Matt Walls, the definitive book.

For other summery ideas, let's move away from France. All credit to both Marks & Spencer and Waitrose for championing little-known or forgotten varieties, especially from Italy - home of so many native grapes that deserve a wider following.

Do try any of these: from the M&S Found range, Lucido (£7.50), the new name for Sicily's most-planted white, catarratto, with a rich citrus tang, and Manzoni Bianco (£8), a 1930s cross of riesling and pinot bianco whose potential is now being acknowledged; also red Pignolo (£9), also from the north, rare and really smart with smooth tannins balancing bright fruit.

From Waitrose Loved & Found, Ribolla Gialla Spumante (£9) is a happy alternative to proscecco, and Aglianico Rosata (£9) prettily balances fruit and freshness.

Also very readily available is Nero Oro Grillo (£10 mix-6 Majestic), from Sicily, made with a proportion of dried grapes that boosts the sunny aromas and intensifies flavour. Its Rosso sibling (same stockist, same price), gently chilled, makes a good barbecue red.