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Best French Wines

The country of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, France has the world’s largest wine production, followed by Italy and Spain. With a wine history dating back to the 6th century BC, French wines have a huge popularity worldwide. Discover France’s best wines, the wine styles, the most famous wine regions in France and their quality levels and appellation system.

Originating in the 6th century BC, French viticulture was brought by the Greeks, and it flourished. And it flourished more due to the Roman empire when spreading Christianity and planting vineyards , a habit which was later borrowed by the monks, who kept the wine-making traditions alive.

In the middle ages, the monasteries were actually famous for their best wines in France. But when molds, fungus and grape wines pests spread throughout France, the vineyards were in danger. French wines managed to survive both these troubled times, and two world wars, and managed to remain world’s most famous wines.

In 1935, in order to protect their wine productions, the French established a certain control of the quality of wines, called Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, which is the oldest system ever created to protect the designation of wine origins. The AOC inspired many other countries to do the same with their vineyards and wines. Nowadays, French wine is divided into four major categories, two of them being placed under EU’s “Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region” category, and two under EU’s “Table wine” category: vin du table, vin du pays (table wines), Vin Délimité de Qualité Superieure and AOC(Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée).

France is nowadays the leader in wine production, and it produces all the wine types: red, white, rose, fortified and sparkling. But more than being a piece of France’s national identity, French wines have their own story when it comes to their production and cultivation. One specific concept explains it all: it is called “Terroir” and it refers to all natural factors that influence a vineyard in order to create a unique grape variety.

The natural factors considered are the soil, the orientation toward the sun, the altitude, the underlying rock, the humidity, the wind, and the variations in temperature. No vineyard has the exactly same terroir as another, and this is why the AOC was created.

More than 50 grape varieties are cultivated in France, 30% being the white varieties, while the rest is covered by red, pink and grey varieties. With international fame or just local, obscure grapes, most grape varieties are associated with their region of cultivation. For example, the famous Cabernet Sauvignon is clearly associated with Bordeaux, while Syrah is cultivated in Rhone. This is another criterion for the classification of wines, which allows wines to be classified by their region or origin or appellation name.

There are ten major French wine regions, each with its specific vineyards and wine grapes: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Côtes du Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Provence, Corsica and the South West.

  • Alsace – this white wine region, situated in eastern France, is famous for its varietal labeling, and it includes the following best wines: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Sylvaner, Crémant d’Alsace.

  • Bordeaux – is the most important wine region in France, primarily a red wine region; this region with more than 7,000 chateaux is also the most important wine region in the world and it’s famous for 21 appellation wines, like Médoc (Chateau Haut-Brion), Margaux, Listrac, Moulis, Barsac, Sauternes, Bordeaux.

  • Burgundy – is the region most famous for its production of most popular wines in France: the Chablis and Beaujolais. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the two main grape varieties here.

  • Champagne – the world’s most famous sparkling wine takes its name from Champagne region, which is the coldest wine region in France. Here are produces the Champagne wines, both white and rosé.

  • Côtes du Rhône – the weather conditions in the Rhône valley make possible that a large variety of wines can be cultivated here. Its northern vineyards, bathed in the sun, make possible that Syrah is cultivated, together with Viognier and the red wines of Hermitage. The southern vineyards, responsible for 80% of the total Côtes du Rhône wines, is famous for the Châteauneuf du Pape, a powerful wine elaborated with 13 controlled grape-varieties

  • Languedoc-Roussillon – the most productive wine region in the world is famous for its Saint-Georges-d'Orques, Pic Saint-Loup, Saint-Chinian, Faugères, Montpeyroux, Roussillon and Muscat.

  • Loire – mainly a white wine region, famous for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes, which produces the Sancerre AOC; other wine varieties include Chenin Blanc (Touraine’s regional white wine), Saumur AOC (red wine), or the Muscadet AOC (made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes)

  • Provence – the richest region in the rosé wine production, a fresh and fruity summer wine

  • Corsica – is also called the beautiful island, famous for its rosé and dry white wines like Patrimonio or Ajaccio

  • South West France – produces both red and white wines, like Bergerac, a red aromatic wine, Cahors, a powerful red wine, Monbazillac, Buzet.

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