Tuesday, 22 May 2012 18:20


Most experts agree, France produces the most "Fine Wine" of any country on earth. Centuries of experience have honed winemaking into firmly rooted traditions that are admired and emulated around the world.

It helps too that most of the great wine grape varieties are French: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, and Sauvignn Blanc. 

Two concepts central to higher end French wines are the notion of terroir, which links the style of the wines to the specific locations where the grapes are grown and where the wine is made, and the Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) system. Appellation rules closely define which grape varieties and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or even specific vineyards.

When we think of french wine, we think of their three famous wine growing regions: Bordeaux, Champagne, and Burgundy.  Bordeaux wine encompasses an area of about 100k around the city of Bordeaux and includes famous area appellations such as St. Emillion, Medoc, and Graves. These areas produce Grand Cru (the best) as well as Cru Bourgeois designated wines. The Bourgogne, or Burgundy region is situated around the cities of Dijon and  Beaune.  Known for their reds, Burgundy wines have four classification levels, the lowest being “Bourgogne”. Select classifications include Cotes de Beaune, and within these, villages and groups of villages produce “higher” quality wines, e.g. Pernand Vergelesse and Aloxe Corton.

The Champagne region is centered around Riems and Epernay. Unlike most best French wines, champagnes are blended and produce non-vintage and vintage champagne and are also ranked and promoted by producer and not by any more finely delimited appellation.  Krug, Mumm, Bollinger, Moet, Chandon, and Tattinger are some of the top producers.

Other notable wine regions in France include Beaujolais, Medoc, Provence, Loire Valley, Languedoc, Jura, Cotes du Rhone, and Cognac/Charentes. France is the source of many grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah) that are now planted throughout the world, as well as wine-making practices and styles of wine that have been adopted in other producing countries.
(Sources: Food and Wine Wine Guide 2012, Wikipedia)

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