La tour de vin
From Champagne in the north over the tributaries of the Loire, along the Rhône, to Provence on the coasts of the Mediterranean. A tour of France inevitably becomes a tour of wine. The French wine philosophy is applied in over 300 wine growing areas; the human being is responsible for the high quality of the wine, for the authentic character the soil, the climate, the wine culture of France. The result of the harmony are red wines, white wines, rosé, champagne and crémants that are unparalleled. As diverse as French cuisine, there is something for every gourmet. Whether God, connoisseurs, Romans or connoisseurs - in France everyone finds fine wines in abundance.
Italy may produce more wine in terms of volume, Spain may have more vineyards, but France remains without a doubt the most important wine country in the world. A diverse selection of strong red wines, filigree white wines and festive sparkling wines for authentic enjoyment are produced on approximately 900,000 hectares, every single square metre reserved for the world's finest grapes. Cuvée, Assemblage, Barrique, Bouquet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet - the French have not invented wine, but they have left their mark on the wine world. With good reason and to the delight of every wine drinker.
Terroir - French wine philosophy
Wine is the expression of the land on which the vines grow. Slate, clay or skeleton soil, long summers, longer precipitation, a river at the foot of a steep vineyard, a protective forest that keeps the wind out, the proximity to the sea - the factors that resonate in the term terroir are numerous and not always clear. But the main thing is that the noble grape varieties on the cultivated areas can do something with the terroir, because the final wine is supposed to express this. With every sip of a French wine you also take up a piece of France. Far away from man, cellar and designation - simply pure taste directly from the terroir.
However, soil alone does not make French wine. In return, the native grape varieties grow splendidly and extensively on the famous locations of France. Many grape varieties are known, some are still an insider tip, some are almost unknown and all are a proud part of the variety.
The most common grape varieties for French red wine
- Cabernet franc
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon
The most common grape varieties for French white wine
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot blanc
- Chenin Blanc
- Pinot Grigio
Growing areas of France
The Rhône valley, consisting of the northern and southern zone, is considered to be the oldest wine-growing region in France. The Romans were already promoting large-scale viticulture here. This has hardly changed to this day. The steep slopes on the left and right banks of the Rhône produce powerful red wines from Syrah and Grenache. Grenache is the dominant grape variety in the southern part of the Rhône, which is slightly flatter and feels the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea, followed by Syrah. The red wines of the Rhône wine region are known for their high alcohol content and spicy herbal aromas with a mild acid structure.
The northernmost wine growing area for French quality wine is probably the best known at the same time beside Bordeaux. Champagne, which is in demand all over the world, brought the region onto the map and today enjoys almost legendary status. Since the term Champagne and the Méthode champenoise were legally protected, the pearly export hit can only be found in the Champagne - all other French sparkling wines bear the name Crémant. In order to meet the increasing demand for sparkling sparkling wine, the winegrowers steadily expanded the vineyards. Mainly with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes approved for champagne.
One cannot deny Alsace its German influences. The Riesling has also found a cosy home here. Somewhat more alcoholic, somewhat less acid - Riesling in French also delivers wines of world-class quality. Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muskateller and Silvaner, as well as the Crémant d'Alsace also testify to the top quality of the cultivation area between Strasbourg and Mulhouse. Protected by the Vosges and blessed with similarly high hours of sunshine as in the Baden region, the mainly white French wines sometimes express themselves slim, sometimes strong, but always unforgettable.
Burgundy, with its great name and great vineyards, has become one of the world's leading wine-growing regions. The mixture of balanced climate and ideal soils allows the precocious ripe grape varieties Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir to flourish splendidly. Famous Grand Cru vineyards such as the Côte d'Or or Côte de Nuits still produce high-quality white and red wines, but almost disappear in the confusing situation of Burgundy. Countless winegrowers share the approximately 24,000 hectares of vineyards, some of which are divided into hundreds of plots. But even if a winegrower may have only a few square meters of vineyard area, the diligence is always high, the product noble, the taste perfect.
The Bordeaux wine region is not only the largest in France, but also the flagship of French quality wine. In the more than 3000 Châteaus, scattered on the left and right side of the Gironde, full and structured red wines and a few fine white wines, typically cuvées from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot are produced. True to the principle that smaller is finer, Bordeaux regulates its appellations according to sizes of location. Bordeaux Supérieur, Médoc or Entre-Deux-Mers wines certainly have two things in common: they come from a château and are considered the optimum for opulent wines.
In the holiday paradise of the French, there is usually a festive mood and a decelerated life. The speciality of Provence fits into the picture. Rosé wine is the undisputed number one here. Up to 80% of the wine from the southern department shines pink and rosé. Most bottles do not even leave the region, but are consumed by the French themselves. The value is high, as is the quality of viticulture. The Syrah grapes are largely responsible for the fruity rosé wine from France. Grenache, Tibouren, Cinsaut and Mourvèdre also find their way into the wine cellars.
On the border with Catalonia lies the Roussillon region, which has gained fame through the sweet and reinforced Vin Doux Naturels. But nowadays more and more winegrowers dedicate themselves to the production of white, rosé and red wine. Quite with success. Carignan is the leading variety in the area, with Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Syrah for the red varieties and Grenache Blanc, Torbato and Macabeo for the white varieties.
The French quality system
The wine law in force since 2009 divides French wines into 3 quality categories relating to the origin of the wine. In simple terms, one could say that the more precisely the location of the vines is declared on the label, the better the wine. What used to be called AOC, VDQS and Vin de Table now bears the abbreviations AOP, IGP and Vin de France.
AOP Appellation d'Origine Protégée
Wines with AOP status always come from a specific appellation and must meet or exceed its requirements. This includes information on the municipality to which the parcel of original vines belongs, authorised vine varieties, plant density, basic yield per hectare, labelling requirements under EU law and alcohol content. Only when the wine meets all criteria can it count itself among the AOP wines. In France, the majority of wines, almost 40% of the total yield, are of the highest quality.
IGP Indication Géographique Protégée
Wines of IGP status are also subject to the criteria of EU wine legislation, such as yield, alcohol content and grape variety, but allow the winegrower some freedom in production. The wines must also come from a region.
Vin de France
Wines without an indication of origin count as Vin de France, the current term for French table wines. A cuvée of different wines from different origins is often vinified for the marketing of consistent taste and quality under the Vin de France status. Under the new provisions, the bottle may mention the vintage and grape variety on the label.
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