Monday, January 27, 2014

Wine Regions of France

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Loire Valley and Rhone are the most popular wine regions in France. Each of these regions is known for specific wines. Because of their commitment to quality, each region continues to produce vast amounts of wine every year.

Bordeaux: There are over 10,000 wine growers in Bordeaux. It is estimated that of all the wine produced in Bordeaux that 85% of it is red. This red wine comes from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. There are two sub regions in this area that produce the most red wine. They are referred to as “Right Bank” and “Left Bank”. Wine produced from grapes in the Right Bank is considered most suited for those that are just beginning the art of drinking Bordeaux. This is because the flavor is more fruity initially which makes it easier for new wine drinks to consume. The wine from the Left Bank requires years of maturity for its flavors to fully develop. The region of Bordeaux is also known for a white wine called Sauternes. It has a sweet flavor and is best paired with desserts. A bottle of Bordeaux wine can range from a mere $6 to over $1,000.

Burgundy: The region of Burgundy is best known for both its white and red wines. It is over 100 miles long and is located on the east side of France. Vineyards were started in this region around the 2nd century. The grapes grown in Burgundy are the Gamay, which is used to make Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, which is used to make red wine, and Chardonnay, which is used to make white wine. Red burgundy wines tend to be expensive. White burgundy has a sweet, peachy flavor and pairs well with most forms of seafood. Beaujolais is a very affordable red wine and has a fruity flavor. At $8 to $20 a bottle, you simply can’t go wrong.

Alsace: This region, unlike the other regions in France, uses the grape variety to name its wines rather than the region’s name. It is located on the eastern border of France and is the 5th smallest region in France. Don’t let the size of this region fool you though, there are over 37,800 acres of vineyards in this area, making them a very large wine producer in France. White wines are the main type of wine that is produced here. Pinot Blanc and Riesling are a few of the most popular wines from this region. The most reasonably priced wine is the Pinot Blanc. It tastes fruity with a hint of apples and some bottles cost under $25.

Loire Valley: Loire Valley is located on the northwest side of France. It is known for its production of white wines. Pouilly-Fume, Sancerre, Muscadet and Vouray are the most popular wines that come out of this region. It is the second largest producer of sparkling wine in France. Winemaking dates back in this area to the 1st century. Due to Loire Valley’s cooler climate, these wines have a lighter style. They tend to have a fresh, crispness. Wines from Loire Valley are usually reasonably priced. Bottles of Muscadet can be found for under $15.

Rhone: The region of Rhone is located in southeastern France. Its growing conditions allow for the production of some of the best inexpensive wines in all of France. This region is known for its red wines. There are at least 103 cooperatives and 1,837 private wineries in Rhone. Northern Rhone tends to be colder than southern Rhone. Because of this the variety of grapes and different styles of wine will vary slightly across the area. Some of the most popular red wines in this region are the Cote Rotie and the Hermitage. They both have a slight raspberry taste and are best paired with red meat. It’s not uncommon to find a bottle of either wine for under $50.

The variety of wines from each region allow for the vineyards to excel. Due to the quality of these wines, France remains the top wine producer in the entire world. To learn more about wines and wine making, consider taking a tour of one of these well known wine regions in France the next time that you visit this beautiful country.

Many escorted France vacations include visit to the wine regions.  Another wonderful way to travel is on a France river cruise. Many cruises offer special wine tours and tastings included in the price.