Wine Culture and Information - Volume 17
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  ABC Wine Issue 2, November 2002   
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France


 If we have to tell a wine making country that had, and still has, a strong influence on all the others and that almost anyone tries to imitate its production model and style, this country would surely be France. This country understood, long before than anyone else in the world, that quality of wine was one of the most important and determinant factors for success. Nowadays, most of the quality wine production in the world is largely based on the French model. Every wine area of France is, in a way or another, considered as a reference model to follow in order to make most of the style of wines: Bordeaux, Bourgogne and Rhône Valley for red wines; Bourgogne, Loire Valley and Alsace for white wines; Champagne for sparkling wines. The secret of French success, besides having a territory suited for viticulture, was mainly determined by the attention they paid on grapes quality and on wine making techniques, last but not the least, an efficient commercial strategy supported by an excellent product.


France
France

 Just like Italy, France has a very ancient tradition about wine making and its history is as ancient as about 2500 years. The first traces about the presence and the culture of grape in France are dated back to 600 B.C., when Greeks established Massalia, the modern Marseille, and introduced vine. However, just like the majority of the wine making countries of Europe, it is believed that wild vines were present in France before Greeks times. The strong development of enology and viticulture in France started with Romans, at the end of the second century BC, as they were used to consume huge amounts of wine, a precious beverage for their army, Romans had the custom of introducing their traditions and products everywhere they went to conquer new lands for their empire. Before those times, Gauls, the local people of France, were used to consume lots of Italian wine, as at those times it was more renowned and famous than French wine. Even Etruscans exported wine in France and some amphoras found in the Bourgogne area confirm this ancient trade. Pliny the Elder, in his monumental Naturalis Historia, wrote that in Vienna, the modern Vienne, in the Rhône Valley, a “resinated” wine was made and it was sold at very high prices. The Rhône Valley is what can be historically considered as the very first wine area of France. It was in this area that Romans established Narbo, also known as Gallia Narbonensis, the modern Narbonne, the city considered at those times as the most important French one for production and for quality wines. Vine and wine were very cultivated and produced in Narbo and from there they spread all over France. Commercial history of French wine started soon after when the city of Burdigala, the modern Bordeaux, became a strong and important city of trade, also thanks to the vicinity of the Atlantic ocean. It is believed in that very time they started producing and selling wine in Bordeaux.

 During the sixth century viticulture was very common and spread everywhere in France's territory, they were mainly monks that were used to cultivate vine in their monasteries because it was used to make wine for the Mass. Special thanks must go to the precious work of the monks for the enology; their valuable contribution allowed the improvement and the development of wine technology, even modern technology is still largely based on the work of those monks.


 

 Viticulture in France is currently spread almost everywhere in the territory, only Spain and Italy have a higher quantity of land destined to vine culture, however quality production areas of France are about ten and they all are enclosed and defined in determined geographical areas. Grapes cultivated in France are generally spread everywhere in the territory and, of course, there are species that give better results in determined areas instead of others, and they become the enological symbol of those areas. For example, Bourgogne is renowned for Pinot noir and Chardonnay; Bordeaux for its very popular Bordeaux blend, that is Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon; Loire Valley for Sauvignon blanc and Alsace for Riesling and Gewürztraminer. The most cultivated white grapes species of France are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Sémillon, Pinot Blanc, Silvaner, Muscat blanc, Muscadet and Ugni Blanc. The most cultivated red ones are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Gamay and Carignan.

 These grapes have been spread from France to practically all the other wine making countries of the world and, trying to imitate the French model, they want to emulate quality and style as if the only factor to make a good wine is the kind of grape used. The success of French wine is not only determined by the grapes they use: territory and climate are other fundamental factors for their success that, as well as a very ancient experience oriented to quality of matters and techniques, they strongly contributed to the success of the French enology.

 

French Quality System

 The need of defining a quality production system for wines in France, emerged in the years of 1920, when, mainly because of the terrible devastation of phylloxera, production of ordinary and coarse wine was very high and the fame of French enology declined and the availability of quality wine was scarce and limited. Frauds and adulterations of wine were also very popular at that time and, to tell the truth, not only in France. The French quality system started to be defined in the beginning of the 1930 and they named it as Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (Appellation of Controlled Origin), abbreviated as AOC or, in short Appellation Contrôlée, abbreviated as AC. They actually created the most imitated wine quality production system in the world. Examples of quality systems based on the French model include the AVA (American Viticultural Areas) used in the United States of America, the Italian DOC system (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), Spain's DO (Denominación de Origen) and Portugal's DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada): they surely had not the same success and efficiency.

 The fundamental principles on what the French quality system is based mainly derived from the work done in 1923 by Baron Le Roy, an influential and important producer of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. He set and adopted rigid and strict rules for the production of his wines. These rules included the exact definition of the geographical area, grapes varieties permitted, cultivation and pruning methods as well as the minimum percentage of alcohol by volume. In 1935 was established INAO (Institut National des Appelations d'Origine, National Institute of Appellations of Origin), with the explicit scope of defining, determining and strengthening the production's disciplinary for each AOC and they were largely based on the model set and determined by Baron Le Roy.

 The majority of the production's disciplinary of the most renowned French wines were defined just after INAO was established, however, they have been largely and continuously improved and revised during the course of time. It was only in 1949 that INAO introduced the category of VDQS (Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure, Delimited Wine of Superior Quality) which is at a lower level than AOC. French quality system is not perfect, even though it cannot ensure the quality of a specific producer's wine, it surely sets and defines rigid criteria that strongly influence and regulate the production of wine.

 The main factors that allow French wines to belong to the AOC category are seven:

 

  • Territory - vineyard area is exactly defined according to historical facts about location and traditions of the past centuries. Other factors are type of land, position and altitude
  • Grapes - allowed grapes for wine production are defined for each area according to historical and local traditions, also based on yield and quality according to local conditions and climate
  • Cultural practices - defines the maximum number of vines per hectare as well as pruning and fertilization techniques
  • Yield - every AOC defines the maximum quantity of wine that can be produced from every vineyard, the value is expressed in hectoliters per hectare
  • Alcohol by volume - every AOC defines the minimum percentage of alcohol by volume in a wine
  • Wine making techniques - every AOC defines techniques and procedures for wine making, they are usually based on area's traditions, the ones that allowed to obtain the best results in the course of time
  • Organoleptic tests - Since 1979 every wine which is candidate to be entitled as AOC is evaluated by a commission

 Categories allowed by the French quality system are four and they are listed as follows, from the highest to the lowest level:

 

  • Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, AOC - is the highest and strictest quality level of the system. An AOC can also define sub zones
  • Vin Délimité de Qualité Supérieure, VDQS - has similar rules to the ones of the AOC category although less rigid and strict. About 2% of the total French production belongs to VDQS. Wines belonging to this category are usually waiting to be entitled as AOC
  • Vin de Pays - has rules like the above categories, however they are less rigid and strict. They allow, for example, higher yields and a lower percentage of alcohol by volume. Wines belonging to this category are usually produced is wider areas as opposed to AOC wines.
  • Vin de Table - is the category to which belong all the wines that cannot be entitled to the other and higher levels, either for lack or insufficiency of requirements

 In French wine labels can also be used special terms that often have a direct meaning, although sometimes vague and confusing, with quality. The most frequent terms found in French wine labels is listed as follows.

 

  • Château - even though this term means “castle” in French, when used in wine business it has no connection with the evocative and massive medieval buildings. A Château is a wine business that makes wine and it is usually used in the Bordeaux area. The term is always followed by the specific name of the winery
  • Clos - the meaning of this word is “closed” or ”enclosed”. In French wine business indicates a delimited or enclosed vineyard or estate. This term is usually used in the Bourgogne and only wineries that own vineyards, make and bottle their wine can make use of this term in the label. The term is always followed by other indications defining the vineyard or property
  • Domaine - the meaning of this word is “property” and is usually used in Bourgogne. It defines a property, belonging to a single winery, made of one or more vineyards, even located in different areas
  • Côte - “side” in English, this term indicates the side of a hill or a slope and it is usually referred to a delimited quality production area, mainly Bourgogne
  • Cru - although its meaning is “grew”, in French's wine parlance indicates a determined area, usually a single vineyard or a tiny area, having specific qualities, climate, geological and environmental conditions, which produces quality wines having superior characteristics as well as unique and well identifiable qualities
  • Grand Cru - this term is used in Bourgogne and indicates a wine produced in a vineyard having superior quality and it is the highest quality level to which a Bourgogne wine can belong to. The same meaning is used in Champagne and in Alsace as well. In Bordeaux this term has not the same importance as in the other areas and it is used for some Château, mainly the ones in the Saint-Émilion area
  • Grand Cru Classé - the term is mainly used for Bordeaux wines. In Saint-Émilion area is considered as the second level of classification, whereas in the Médoc and Sauternes areas indicates a wine belonging to a category from the second one to the fifth one
  • Premier Cru (1er Cru) - in Bordeaux, except Sauternes and Barsac areas, indicates a wine belonging to the highest category of classification. There are currently only five Château that belong to this category. In Sauternes area is considered as the second category of classification. In Bourgogne indicates the second level of classification, just under the Grand Cru category
  • Premier Grand Cru (1er Grand Cru) - is the highest level of classification for Sauternes wines. There is currently only one Château belonging to this category. It can also be indicated as Premier Cru Supérieur
  • Premier Grand Cru Classé (1er Grand Cru Classé) - in SaintÉmilion area indicates the highest category of classification for a wine. This term can also be found in Médoc and Sauternes wine labels having the meaning of “Premier Grand Cru”
  • Cru Classé - it mainly indicates the renowned classification of the 1855 for Médoc wines in Bordeaux. The system has five categories, from one to five (Premier Cru, Deuxième Cru, Troisième Cru, Quatrième Cru, Cinquième Cru). In this same classification system, Sauternes/Barsac wines were classified in just two categories (Premier Cru, Deuxième Cru). The term is also used for the classification of the wines of Graves, in the Bordeaux area, and does not allow any subclass, therefore every quality wine from Graves, both white ones and red ones, are defined as “Cru Classé”. The name used for the classification system in Saint-Émilion uses “Cru Classé” term as well.
  • Cru Bourgeois - it is a category of classification for Bordeaux wines, in particular, to the wines having a lower quality level than the ones belonging to the “Cru Classé”. The highest level for this classification is Cru Bourgeois Supérieurs Exceptionnel, usually indicated in short as Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel or Cru Exceptionnel. The second category is referred as Cru Bourgeois Supérieurs or Cru Grand Bourgeois, followed by a third and last category named as Cru Bourgeois
  • Supérieur - this term usually indicates a wine having a higher percentage of alcohol by volume than the ones belonging to the same category. Sometimes the term indicates, besides a higher percentage of alcohol by volume, a lower yield than the one defined for the wines of its category.

 

Production Areas

 Wine production in France is, considering quantity, the second of the world, only Italy has a higher production. According to climate and geographic location, France can be divided in three regions. In the north, where Champagne, Bourgogne and Alsace are located, there is a continental climate, having cold winters and rainy autumns. In the south, where the climate is typically Mediterranean, grapes reach full maturation and the wines produced here are full bodied and rich. Lastly, the western area, where Bordeaux and Loire Valley are located, the strong influence of the Atlantic ocean creates a sea climate, wet and rainy, tempered by the gulf's air streams.

 The number of grapes varieties used in France for making wine are a little less than forty, however the variety of the territory and the characteristics of each area, allow a production of wine very different one from another: from delicate white wines to refined sparkling wines of indisputable elegance, from pleasing and interesting rose or blush wines to full bodied and magnificent red wines.

 Quality production areas belonging to France's AOC are ten and about the half of them actually and mainly contributed to make France one of the most famous and prestigious wine countries of the world.

 

Alsace

 This region is located in the north-east area of France, bordering Germany, and mainly produces white wines and the most renowned and famous wine is surely the one made from Gewürztraminer grape. Alsace actually represents an exception in the French quality system because it is the only area where the name of the grape can be indicated in the label, mainly for traditional reasons, whereas in all the other areas it is not allowed. Production of red and rose wines is scarce, about the eight percent of total production. A very famous wine from Alsace is the Crémant d'Alsace, a sparkling wine produced with the classic method of the second fermentation in bottle.

 Alsace also produces excellent wines obtained from late vintages (Vendanges Tardives) and the renowned Sélection de Grains Nobles, sweet, complex, concentrated and aromatic wines produced with strict selections of grapes, usually harvested berry by berry, where a beneficial mold (Botrytis Cinerea) developed on grapes. The main white grapes used is Alsace are Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris and Muscat blanc: these are the only grapes allowed for making the Alsace Grand Cru AOC wines. Other white grapes cultivated in this area are Silvaner and Pinot blanc. The main red grapes cultivated in Alsace are Pinot noir and Gamay. A special mention should go to the wines of Moselle and Les Côtes de Toul, both produced in the Lorraine area, and the so called Edelzwicker, a wine made by assembling more grapes together and their names are not written in the label.

 

 AOC: white: Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru (Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot gris, Muscat blanc) sparkling: Crémant d'Alsace (Pinot blanc, Riesling, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Chardonnay)

 

 

Bordeaux

 Bordeaux represents the widest and broadest area of appellation of origin in France besides being one of the most renowned ones. This area is located in western France and benefits of a particular tempered climate because of the vicinity of the Atlantic ocean and because of the influence of the estuary of the Gironde, whose coasts are extensively cultivated with vines. Bordeaux area includes more than 50 AOC, both regional and communal AOC. The Médoc, located between the Atlantic ocean and the Gironde, has two regional AOC, the Médoc and the Haut-Médoc which comprises six communal AOC (Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis en Médoc e Margaux). Wines produced in the Médoc and in Haut-Médoc areas are red and are the most renowned ones of the area, of course, they are not the only ones produced here. The area of Graves produces both white wines and red wines and it is located south from Médoc. Recently, the north-east area of Graves has been entitled to a specific appellation: Pessac-Léognan.

 Another renowned and important appellation area in Bordeaux is Sauternes/Barsac, renowned for its sweet and complex wines produced with grapes where a beneficial and noble mold (Botrytis Cinerea) developed on its berries. Other areas producing similar wines are Cérons, Cadillac, Loupiac and Sainte-Croix-du-Mont. In the Entre-Deux-Mers area, located between the rivers Garonne and Dordogne, are produced white wines from Sémillon and Sauvignon blanc grapes. Another interesting area of Bordeaux is Libournais which includes the areas of Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Fronsac.

 The main wine produced in Bordeaux is red which is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes, in different proportions according to the specific areas. White grapes cultivated in this area are Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, Muscadelle, Colombard and Ugni Blanc. The most famous grapes of this area which originated the so called Bordeaux blend are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Other grapes varieties cultivated in this area are Malbec or Côt, Petit Verdot and Carmenère, which is unfortunately getting more and more rare.

 

 Main AOC: white: Sauternes et Barsac (Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle), Cérons, Cadillac, Loupiac, Sainte-Croix-de-Mont(same grapes used for Sauternes) Entre-Deux-Mers (Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc) red: Médoc, Haut-Médoc (sub zones: Saint-Estèphe, Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis en Médoc, Margaux) Graves, Pessac-Léognan, Libournais (sub zones: Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Fronsac et Canon-Fronsac) (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec in different proportions)

 

 

Bourgogne

 In this area, located in central France, are produced both white wines and red wines, elegant and refined, and last but not the least, renowned everywhere. Bourgogne is divided in five main production areas: Chablis, Côte d'Or, Côte Chalonnaise, Macônnais and Beaujolais and they comprise more than one hundred AOC. Wine production is equally distributed between whites and reds and the main white grapes cultivated in this area are Chardonnay and Aligoté, whereas the most cultivated red grapes are Pinot noir and Gamay.

 The northern area of Bourgogne, pretty distant from the main area, is Chablis, whose production is mainly dedicated to white wines made from Chardonnay grape. Chablis wines are classified, from lowest to highest level, as Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru, they are very elegant and refined and are considered as a model for white wines as well as being imitated by most wine producers in the world.

 The northern side of the main area of Bourgogne is occupied by the renowned Côte d'Or, which is divided in two distinct areas, the one to the north is called Côte de Nuits, whereas the one to the south is called Côte de Beaune. Both areas have two subzones which are respectively called Hautes Côte de Nuits and Hautes Côte de Beaune. Côte d'Or produces both white wines and red wines and this is the most looked for and renowned wine area of Bourgogne, a true reference model for the enology of this area. In Côte de Nuits are mainly produced red wines made from Pinot noir grapes, red wines from this area are the most long lasting and looked for of Bourgogne. From this particular area come the renowned Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanée and Nuits Saint-Georges. In Côte de Beaune are mainly produced white wines made from Chardonnay grapes, however here they also make excellent examples of red wines made from Pinot noir grape, such as Corton and certain Pommard. The most renowned and representative white wines of Bourgogne are the ones from Corton, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet e Chassagne-Montrachet.

 South from Côte d'Or, there is the Côte Chalonnaise, where white and red wines are produced. The most important red wines of this area certainly come from Mercurey and Givry, whereas the most important white ones are from Montagny and Rully. South from this area is located Mâconnais, a very renowned area for its excellent white wines, made from Chardonnay grapes, which also include Pouilly-Fuissé and Saint-Véran. In this area there is also a modest production of red wines made from Pinot noir and Gamay grapes.

 The southern side of Bourgogne is occupied by the area of Beaujolais, which is mainly renowned for its fruity Beaujolais nouveau, ready and released on the third Thursday of November. The main grape, and surely the most important one of this area, is Gamay, however, although in scarce quantities, in Beaujolais are also produced white wines made from Chardonnay grape. The most important areas of Beaujolais all produce red wines and the most renowned and important one of them all is Beaujolais-Villages.

 

 Main AOC: white: Chablis, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Aloxe-Corton, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint-Véran, Montagny, Rully (all produced with Chardonnay) Bourgogne Aligoté Bouzeron (Aligoté) red: Gevrey-Chambertin, Vosne-Romanée, Nuits Saint-Georges, Aloxe-Corton, Pommard, Santenay, Mercurey, Givry, Rully (all produced with Pinot noir), Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, Fleurie, Brouilly, Moulin-à-Vent (Gamay)

 

 

Champagne

 This area, which does not certainly need any introduction, produces almost exclusively sparkling wines with Méthode Champenoise and they all are famous and looked for in every part of the world. This area is divided in five regions, Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, Côte de Blancs, Côte de Sézanne and Côte de Bar, and the only white grape cultivated here is Chardonnay, whereas red grapes cultivated in Champagne are Pinot noir and Pinot meunier. Champagne also has two AOC producing still wines, that is non sparkling, Coteaux Champenois which produces both white and red wines, and Les Rosé des Riceys which produces rose wines.

 Wine mainly produced in Champagne is, of course, sparkling, a known symbol for centuries of elegance, refinement and joy, this is the wine that everyone associates to celebrations and parties. Champagne wines and produced with Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot meunier in different proportions and according to the preferences and choices of the producers, however, when this wine is made with part of these grapes, two specific indications are used to refer to the type: Blanc de Blancs, is a Champagne produced with Chardonnay grape only, Blanc de Noirs is a Champagne produced with Pinot noir and Pinot meunier, or simply one of them, but no Chardonnay. There is another type, Champagne Rosé, which is produced with a base white wine to which is added a small amount of red wine, both produced with typical grapes of the area. In exceptional years are also produced the so called Champagne Millésimé exclusively made from wines of the vintage written in the label.

 

Jura and Savoie

 This area is located east from Bourgogne, in central France. The main white grape cultivated in Jura is Savagnin, whereas the main red varieties are Poulsard and Trousseau. Jura is renowned for its Les Vins de Paille, sweet and “passito style” wines, and for its Vins Jaunes, produced with Savagnin, particular wines refined for six years by using a technique similar to the one used in Jerez (Sherry). White grapes of Savoie are Altesse, Chasselas and Jacquère, whereas Mondeuse is the main red grape. Savoie also produces white, rose and red wines.

 

 AOC of Jura: Côtes du Jura, Arbois, L'Ètoile, Château Châlon, Crémant du Jura e Macvin du Jura. AOC of Savoie: Crépy, Seyssel, Vin de Savoie, Roussette de Savoie

 

 

Languedoc-Roussillon

 This area is located in the southern side of France and it is renowned for the production of Vins Doux Naturels, naturally sweet wines produced with Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat à Petits Grains grapes. From this area also come the famous Muscat de Rivesaltes, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Mireval and Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois. These wines are sweet and concentrated, rich in aromas and tastes. Another renowned wine of this area and belonging to the Vins Doux Naturels category is the Banyuls produced with Grenache noir. This area also produces many white and red AOC wines as well as a good amount of Vins de Pays. The main white grapes cultivated in Languedoc-Roussillon are Macabeu, Grenache blanc, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picpoul, Muscat of Alexandria and Muscat à Petits Grains, whereas red grapes of the area include Carignan, Grenache noir, Cinsaut, Mourvèdre and Syrah.

 

 Main AOC: Minervois, Côtes du Roussillon, Limoux, Clairette du Languedoc, Fitou, Corbières, Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, Saint-Chinian, Collioure, Coteaux du Languedoc, Faugères

 

 

Provence and Corsica

 Provence, located in the southern side of France, is mainly renowned for the production of rose wines, however in this area there is also a good production of white and red wines as well as a good amount of Vin de Pays. The main white grapes cultivated in this area are Rolle, Ugni Blanc, Clairette and Sémillon, whereas red varieties are Grenache noir, Syrah, Cinsaut, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Tibouren and Cabernet Sauvignon. The most important production areas of Provence include Bandol, Bellet and Cassis.

 In the island of Corsica are produced both white and red wines and the main cultivated white grape is Vermentino, whereas the most cultivated red grapes are Sciacarello and Nielluccio. The most important production areas of the island include Patrimonio, Ajaccio and Calvi. In Corsica they also produce a Vin Doux Naturel: Muscat du Cap Corse.

 

 Provence's AOC: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence et Les Baux-de-Provence, Palette, Cassis, Coteaux Varois, Bellet, Bandol. Corsica's AOC: Ajaccio, Vin de Corse (sub zones: Cap Corse, Calvi, Sartène, Figari, Porto-vecchio) Muscat du Cap Corse, Patrimonio

 

 

Loire Valley

 Loire Valley is the indisputable homeland of French's Sauvignon blanc. This area is located on the northern side of the country and it is spread from Atlantic ocean to the inner land of France. Production of this area includes white wines as well as red ones, rose ones and Vin de Pays. The main white grape varieties cultivated in this area are Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Muscadet, whereas red grapes include Pineau d'Aunis, Grolleau, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Côt and Pinot noir.

 The western side of Loire Valley, the one located in the coasts of the Atlantic ocean, mainly produces Muscadet in the Nantes area and rose wines in the Anjou area. The central area of Loire Valley, located near the central part of France, is called Touraine and produces white, rose and red wines and the most important ones are Touraine, Vouvray and Chinon.

 In the southern side of this area, near the center of France, are produced the renowned wines of Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Pouilly-sur-Loire.

 

 Main AOC: Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine, Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire, Muscadet des Côtes de Grandlieu, Anjou, Saumur, Touraine, Vouvray, Chinon, Cheverny, Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé.

 

 

Rhône Valley

 Rhône Valley, which is located in the southern side of France, south from Bourgogne, is very famous for its red wines. White grapes mainly cultivated in this area are Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Clairette, Grenache blanc and Bourboulenc, whereas red grapes include Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourvèdre and Grenache noir.

 The northern side of Rhône Valley mainly produces full bodied and potent red wines made from Syrah grape. The most renowned wines of this area include Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph. In this area we also find an important production site, having a tiny surface of about 3,4 hectares (8.4 acres), which produces refined and elegant white wines made from Viognier grape: Château-Grillet.

 South from this area, we find the most representative wine of the whole Rhône Valley, the wine that allowed this area to be known and looked for in every part of the world: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a wine that can be produced with even thirteen different kind of grapes. Other interesting production areas include Gigondas and Côtes du Rhône-Villages.

 

 Main AOC: Château-Grillet, Saint-Joseph, Côte-Rôtie, Condrieu, Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Clairette de Die, Crémant de Die, Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lirac, Tavel, Gigondas, Vacqueyras

 

 

Southwest France

 This area is located south from Bordeaux, with the exception of Bergerac which is located to the east. The main white grapes varieties cultivated in this area are Petit Manseng, Gros Manseng, Mauzac, Len de Lel (Loin de l'œil), Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, whereas red grapes include Tannat, Fer Servadou, Duras, Négrette, Auxerrois, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The main production areas of southwest France are Madiran, Jurançon and Gaillac. Very interesting wines are produced in the area of Bergerac, east from Bordeaux, where Monbazillac is certainly one of the most representative ones.

 

 Main AOC: Madiran, Jurançon, Gaillac, Côtes du Frontonnais, Côtes de Saint-Mont, Tursan, Monbazillac, Buzet, Pécharmant, Saussignac, Côtes de Duras, Côtes du Marmandais.

 

 




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