The Beginner’s Guide To France’s Wine Regions
France: when the place comes to mind, it’s easy to think of baguettes, cheese, and… fantastic wine.
For someone who is visiting France for the first time and wants to sample the best wines France has to offer, it can be hard knowing where to start.
Fear not, as we have compiled a guide to France’s wine regions which will help you explore your palette with sensational Pinot Noirs and incredible Cabernet Sauvignon no matter if you a seasoned wine aficionado or new to genuine French wines!
Situated in eastern France between Paris and Lyon, Burgundy has produced world-class reds and whites since Monks made small batches in their spare time during the reign of Charlemagne.
The reds here are generally made with Pinot Noir grapes carefully aged for anywhere between 10 and 20 years, whilst white wine in Burgundy are made from chardonnay grapes.
Whilst the Pinot Noir here is out of this world the real star in Burgundy is Beaujolais, made from Gamay grapes that have a thick skin and are low in tannins. We reccommend wines from the ten ‘crus’ of Beaujolais which can be had for a bargain.
Bordeaux is the largest wine region in France, with its full-bodied red wines being favoured amongst the Brits. The region of Bordeaux is often split into the “Left Bank” and the “Right Bank”: blends you’ll find in the left bank include Cabernet Sauvignon whilst the right bank is lead with rich Merlots.
Bordeaux is also well known for varieties such as Sauternes (sweet wines), dry wines, sparkling wines and rosés.
If you really want to get involved with all the wine Bordeaux has to offer, then we recommend you visit the region during the Bordeaux Wine Festival!
Situated on France’s border with Germany, Alsace is famous for its Rieslings, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Muscat. The examples of these wines you’ll find here are much more intense than the fruity varieties than most people are used to.
The key characteristics of an Alsace wine lie in the aromas; hints of peach and floral scents emit from the bottle alone. Alsace wines also pair perfectly with poultry such as quail!
The Loire Valley, a predominately white wine region home to over 4000 vineyards, is divided into four key areas: The Pays Nantais, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur and the Central Vineyards. Each region has its own distinct strengths such as the bone-dry Muscadet of The Pays Nantais and the Sauvignon Blanc of the Central Vineyards.
The Chenin Blanc is the most popular white wine from this region; a versatile white wine similar to a Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc that tastes amazing either as a sweet wine or a dry wine. For reds, the Cabernet Franc is a must-try in the Loire Valley. The Cabernet Franc is light-bodied in comparison to richer red varieties, and is ready to drink soon after bottling unlike other reds.
Provence, the spiritual home of the Rosé, has been a wine-producing heavyweight for over 2600 years and has influences from Greek and Roman rule of centuries past. The region is covered with wile juniper, rosemary, thyme and lavender which influences the taste of the grapes.
Whilst Rosé is the top wine produced here, you must try the reds produced in the Bandol area of Provence. These intense red wines are aged in oak for at least 18 months and can often be 95% Mourvedre, meaning that 95% of the wine uses the strong Mouverde grape of the Bendol area (which is only a good thing!)
So that completes our beginner’s guide to France’s world famous wine regions. If you have any questions about the regions we have mentioned please leave us a comment below!