French wines are already synonymous with excellence and quality. Let's see together if and why France is the undisputed queen of wine and everything there is to know about its wine history, explained in a few simple points.
We have long since expanded the offering of French wines in our bottle selections. So here's what you need to know about French wines, explained simply.
Let's start with a fact about wine in France
France is the nation with the largest variety of famous wines . But beyond the famous names, it is the quality achieved with the less famous labels and areas that impresses.
- Read also: how to taste wine
The lands of France
France enjoys a very remarkable variety of soils , which have different compositions and which enjoy different conditions for the cultivation of different vines.
- Read also: why the soil influences the vine
The "know-how" of French vignerons
But it's there culture which revolves around the cultivation of grapes and their transformation, the ace up the sleeve of French vignerons. The know-how French has centuries of tradition, carried forward on the level of rigor and excellence.
The classifications of French wines
Since the post-war period, France has started a rigorous process of classifying wines and vineyards, a classification based on functional rigor. Therefore precise rules to delimit the area, production method, variety of vines used, times and methods of processing, maturation, refinement, yield per hectare, minimum alcohol level and every other single aspect.
At the top are the AOC ( Appellations d'origine contrôlée ), whose rigorous certification is issued by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d'Origine).
Below, the VDQS ( Vins délimités de Qualité Supérieure ), an intermediate category for wines of particular value, which are on track to obtain AOC qualification.
The VPs ( Vins de Pays ) were established as a stimulus to improve the VTs ( Vins de Table ).
Geography and climate of France
France is a large state, characterized by a remarkable variety of landscapes : from the large coastal plains of the North and West, to the mountain ranges (Alps, Pyrenees...).
THE rivers , then, define the wine landscape in a decisive way (Loire, Rhone, Garonne, Seine; Rhine, Meuse, Moselle...).
The climate varies a lot from area to area – and this creates different conditions for different vines and wines – but it is always enough temperate .
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The main French wine areas and their wines
Burgundy: undoubtedly one of the most important wine regions in France. It rises around the cities of Beaune and Dijon, to the east, and contains within it some of the best French wine areas (Beaujolais, Mâconnais, Côte de Nuits, Chablis). The great wines of Burgundy are based on two grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay .
Champagne : in Northern France, around the 49th parallel it would be impossible to ripen the grapes, but the positive influence of the sea mitigates the climate. This unique climatic condition is reflected in exceptional wine production. Here too the main vines are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, vinified with the Champenois Method, in fact.
Rhône : in the South East of France, the region experienced a twentieth-century decline, but since the 1980s it has rediscovered Syrah.
Loire Valley : to the North West, follows the course of the Loire River. The typical vines are Grolleau (used for i rosé ), Gamay, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.
Alsace : located in the North East of France and also influenced by Germany. The main vines are Riesling , Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Muscat à Petit Grains and Moscat Ottonel, Pinot Bianco, Sylvaner. The wines are generally single varietal.
Savoy and Jura : very mountainous central region, located towards the eastern border; the wines here are mostly white, light and fresh.
Provence : beautiful area in the South East of France, which in recent decades has begun a notable increase in quality, favoring the noblest vines, such as Cinsault and Grenache, from which excellent rosés are obtained.
Languedoc-Roussillon : the largest wine region in France, located in the south, where over a third of French wine is produced. Grape varieties in the area are Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault (black berry), Chardonnay, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Vermentino and Muscat (white berry) as well as of course the international ones.
Corsica : the sunniest and driest wine-growing region of France, many vines are grown there including Sangiovese (here known as Nielluccio), Cinsault, Carignan and also white grape varieties, the most important of which is Vermentino.