French Wineries

Wine Regions of France

Wine Tours in France

Tour de Jour and More: Why wine? Why France?

Touring the wine regions of France can be a great side trip, or a memorable primary vacation.

France enjoys a long, vaunted tradition as an important wine-producing country.

The infancy of the wine industry dates to production by monks for celebratory libations during mass. As trade increased, vineyards were established close to port cities ,such as Bordeaux.

Wines take their names from vineyards where the grapes are grown, not the varietals.

A wine's character can be attributed to many influences, including: grape variety, soil constitution, harvest dates, storage methods and skills of the little old winemakers themselves.

Principal Wine Regions in France

Alsace

Known especially for its white wines, Alsace offers Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Tokay-Pinot Gris, and Muscat. More contemporary varietals, such as Cremant d' Alsace, a sparkling wine, derive their flavor from the marriage of two traditions in a locale between Alsace and Champagne.

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Bordeaux

Known for its full-bodied red wines. Each June Bordeaux hosts a 4 day wine festival.

Widely considered the most important wine producing region in France, it also harbors about 7,000 chateaux.

Its classic wines include, Saint Emilion, Margaux, Medoc, Cotes de Francs, Saint Estephe, Pauillac, and Sauternes.

Burgundy

Beaune and its surrounds are believed to have produced wine since 300 AD.

Due to the enormous variability of its soil content, often mile-to-mile, the Burgundy region is highly regarded for both the range and quality of its wines.

Montrachet and Romanee-Conti are but two of the esteemed offerings of the vine here.

Champagne-Ardenne

Located here are the venerable champagne houses of Pommery, Ruinart, Krug, Dom Perignon, Moet et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot.

Though each wine is different, all are produced using the same three grape varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier.

Champagnes are distinguished by the relative proportions of each grape, and range from "blanc de blancs" (white champagne) to "blanc de noirs."

Further distinctions, resulting from the amount of sugar added during bottling, are labeled extra-brut, brut, sec, and demi-sec.

Languedoc-Roussillon

Said to be France's oldest, biggest, and most scintillating wine producing area.

The region produces about 40% of France's wine.

History recounts the Greeks making wine here 3000 years ago, followed by the Romans and later monks.

The 16th century Benedictines in Limoux were the first in the world to annoint their wine with bubbles.

Even now, Blanquette de Limoux is derived from Mauzac, a grape of the Renaissance. Fitou, Minervois, Corbieres, and Tavel are other wines associated with this region.

Loire Valley

Famous for its natural beauty, magnificent chateaux, and picturesque communities, the Loire Valley is the third most popular tourist haunt.

It is the only region that produces exceptional wines of every variety due to the diverse terrain and climates through which the river flows.

The Loire enjoys a cool climate offering wines with a lean acidity that nicely complements their fruit and alcohol.

Numbered among its splendid white wines are Montlouis and Vouvray (superb when wedded with Loire salmon).

Consider their red anjou wines-Rouge de Cabernet and Saumur-Champigny-which call to taste a subtle, raspberry essence.

The drier Sancerre wines are delightful companions for the Loire's goat cheese and whitewater fish.

Rhone Valley (Cotes du Rhone)

Though the Rhone river valley's production is only 2% white wine, their best whites rival the quality of those from Bordeaux with greater reliability than what Burgundy affords.

The diversity of the Cotes du Rhone region-due largely to climate variability-may not be paralleled by any other wine region in France, resulting in greater inter-varietal fluctuations.

Red grapes grown here include Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan.

Among the whites one finds Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Bourboulenc, and Ugni Blanc.

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