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Section II: Wine Regions of
Europe
Chapter 6: France
French Wine —Historical
Perspective

The history of wine production in France is
inextricably intertwined with the politics
and sociological development of the country.
• Grapes were established in the southern part of
Gaul (now called France) by Greeks as early as
600 BC.
• As the Romans colonized the country, the
planting of grapes and the production of wine
spread north.
• Barbarians invaded Gaul and caused the
collapse of the Roman Empire by AD 400.
• During this time, it was the Christian
monasteries that kept winemaking alive.
French Wine —Historical
Perspective (cont.)

Charlemagne brought stability to Gaul
during his reign which began in AD 768.
• He introduced the first laws on wine production.
• In 1152 Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henri of
Anjou. An important trade alliance was
established when Henri ascended the English
throne as King Henry II.
• English entrepreneurs came to France,
especially to Bordeaux, and played a crucial role
in the building of the wine trade.
French Wine —Historical
Perspective (cont.)

After the French Revolution (1789–1791)
and the rise of Napoleon, the church and
the aristocracy lost a great deal of their
power.
• Land was taken by the government and given to
the farmers.
• The production and exporting of French wines,
especially Bordeaux, continued to increase until
the root louse phylloxera invaded French
vineyards in the late 1880s.
A PPELLATI ON C ONTRÔLÉE L AWS

As French wine production recovered after
the setback of phylloxera, a new, man-made
problem arose: fraud.
• As certain regions became popular, their wines became
more valuable.
• Once a price for a certain wine rose, some wine merchants
could not resist the temptation to increase the supply
through fraud.
• Unscrupulous producers would simply attach a region’s
name in order to get a higher price.
• Or producers within a famous region expanded production
by buying grapes grown elsewhere.
A PPELLATI ON C ONTRÔLÉE L AWS
( CONT .)

The need for government intervention to
protect the authenticity of geographic
names of origin became evident as early as
the late 1890s.
• Fraud proceeded to become so widespread in France that
some place names on bottles became essentially
meaningless.
• The problem was particularly evident in the Champagne
region. It has been estimated that by 1911, the
Champagne houses were selling at least 11,000,000 more
bottles of wine than their region produced.
A PPELLATI ON C ONTRÔLÉE L AWS
( CONT .)

The grape growers rioted to protest the
practice of the large Champagne producers
buying grapes outside the region to expand
production.
• The government immediately passed legislation defining
the boundaries of the Champagne region and decreed that
the valuable name “Champagne” on a label could be used
only if all grapes used in the production were grown inside
those boundaries.
• This was the first step towards a system that guarantees
the authenticity of specific geographic locations.
A PPELLATI ON C ONTRÔLÉE L AWS
( CONT .)

In the early 1900s there were similar
protests by growers in Burgundy and the
Rhône Valley
• Finally, in 1935, the French government passed
legislation creating the Institut National des Appellations
d’Origine des Vins et des Eaux-de-Vie (INAO).
• The INAO, working with local growers, established
appellation boundaries and codification of grape-growing
and winemaking practices appropriate to each area.
• The system has continued to evolve and is continually
under review. It is not static.
A PPELLATI ON C ONTRÔLÉE L AWS
( CONT .)


All wine regions of France are classified
into one of four levels of quality.
In ascending order of quality, the four levels
are:
• vin de table (table wine)
• vin de pays (country wine)
• vin delimité de qualité supérieure or VDQS (quality
wines from a limited area)
• appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC (higher-quality
wines from one of the better limited areas of production)
A PPELLATI ON D ’O RI GI NE
C ONTRÔLÉE (AOC)







The wine must be made 100 percent from grapes approved for
that appellation.
The grapes must have all been grown within a limited zone or
area of production.
The grapes must have been picked at the minimal level of
sugar, and reach the minimal alcohol level, specified for that
appellation.
The amount of grapes harvested must not exceed a certain
amount per hectare.
The methods used in the vineyard and in the winery must
conform to the regulations of the region.
The wine must be bottled in the same region as the
appellation.
The wine must pass a tasting test by the local branch of the
INAO.
V I NS

DE
P AYS
Higher yields and a higher percentage of
nonindigenous grapes are allowed at this
level.
• Since 1979, wines at this level have been
permitted to be labeled by varietal.
• Today approximately 25 percent of French wine
is designated as vin de pays.
V I NS

DE
P AYS
Vin de pays regions can fall within three
different types:
1. Regional: These are three very large areas.
2. Departmental: This covers an entire
départment, the French equivalent of an
American state.
3. Zonal: This is the smallest, often just one
district or even one town. There are over
100 zonal vin de pays regions.
VIN

DE
T ABLE
OR
V I N O RDI NAI RE
The European Commission is putting pressure on
France to decrease the amount of acreage dedicated
to this level of wine, as the glut of bulk wine and
wine grapes causes prices to fall.
Weaknesses of the System




The system of laws protects the grower and
producer more than it does the consumer.
Changes advocated by experts include adding
consumer representation to the local INAO
commissions.
The tasting and analysis of AOC and VDQS wines
should be done for quality, not just for typicality.
Labeling laws could also be improved.
Wine Regions of France

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

Bordeaux
Burgundy
Côtes du Rhône
The Loire Valley
Champagne
Alsace
Bordeaux

Bordeaux is one of the world’s largest and
most diverse wine-producing regions.
• There are almost 304,000 acres under vine, and annual
production is over 660 million bottles of wine.
• Fully 22 percent of France’s total AOC production is from
Bordeaux.
• Bordeaux is a city and a wine region.
• The city of Bordeaux, eighth largest in France, is the
capital of the département of Gironde, the largest of
France’s 95 départements.
Bordeaux

The region has large, self-sufficient estates
in which the vineyards, the winemaking
facilities, and often the owner’s house are
all located together in close proximity.
• The late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were
the period in which many of the great estates developed as
exports in wine increased.
• Production of wine in Bordeaux was set way back by the
infestation of phylloxera as well as downy mildew in the
late nineteenth century.
Bordeaux



The first half of the twentieth century saw an
unprecedented string of man-made disasters: The
First World War, the Great Depression, Prohibition
in the United States, and, of course, the Second
World War.
In the second half of the twentieth century, the
Bordeaux wine trade grew and strengthened.
A rising standard of living throughout the Western
world and an increasing appreciation for wine in
the United States has widened the consumer base
for Bordeaux’s wines.
Soil and Climate —the Terroir
of Bordeaux


The département of Gironde is located on the west
coast of France, on the Atlantic Ocean.
Exactly halfway between the North Pole and the
Equator, extending about 65 miles from north to
south and 80 miles from east to west, the Gironde
is spared any temperature extremes.
Soil and Climate —the Terroir
of Bordeaux

In Bordeaux, the grape varietals allowed by
AOC laws are as follows:
• Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet
Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carmenère
• White: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and
Muscadelle
• For regional white wines, up to 30 percent of
lesser grapes such as Colombard, Merlot Blanc,
and Ugni Blanc is allowed.
The Classifications of
Bordeaux Estates



The most famous rating was The Classification of
1855 for the wine-producing estates of the HautMédoc.
The market reflected the comparative worth of
different estates’ wines by the price consumers
were willing to pay.
The merchants (also called brokers or négoçiants)
formalized the ranking that they had been using.
• The brokers were able to divide the top Médoc estates into
five tiers of quality.
• It remains the official ranking to this day, with only one
change.
The Classifications of
Bordeaux Estates (cont.)


In 1973, Château Mouton-Rothschild was elevated from
second growth to first growth.
In 1855, brokers also classified the estates of Bordeaux that
produced the sweet white wines.
• They ranked these estates into two classes, based on market demand,
price, and quality.



The wine-producing estates of the Graves region were not
officially classified until 1953 for the red wines and 1959 for
the white wines.
The estates of St. Émilion were first classified officially in
1955.
The estates of Pomerol have never been officially classified.
However, the best wines from this region rank among the
world’s best red wines.
The Wine Regions of Bordeaux

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Haut-Médoc
Graves
Sauternes/Barsac
St. Émilion
Pomerol
The H AUT -M ÉDOC


Most of the best of Bordeaux’s wines come from
famous estates in the Haut-Médoc.
The greatest estates have been classified superior.
• The wines of Margaux are raspberry scented, smooth and
medium-bodied on the palate with rich, ripe berry flavors.
• The wines of St. Julien have more tannic backbone and
are fuller-bodied.
• Paudillac is the most famous of the commune in the HautMédoc.
• The style of St. Estèphe wines is more tannic and
backward than that of other communes.
T HE M ÉDOC



Much of the land is dedicated to pasture rather
than grapes.
There are 14 wine-producing communes within the
Bas-Médoc.
Some very decent and affordable red wines are
made in the Médoc.
Graves

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The appellation Graves applies to both reds and
whites.
The dry whites of Graves can be among the most
elegant, complex, and food-friendly wines based on
the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
The wines are fragrant with appealing citrus,
gooseberry, and fresh grassy aromas.
The best red wines of the Graves region are velvety
smooth, full of ripe berry flavors.
Sauternes

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

Encompasses five villages—Sauternes, Bommes,
Fargues, Preignac, and Barsac
The appellation of Sauternes is restricted to sweet
white wines.
Regarded as the most luscious, rich dessert wines
in the world
The most famous of the estates in the Sauternes
appellation is the legendary Château d’Yquem.
The Libournais



Often referred to as the “Right Bank,” a very old
wine-producing area, steeped in tradition and
history
Merlot does very well and is the predominate
grape.
Small properties and unpretentious houses and
chais, once owned by peasants and bourgeois
families
Lesser Appellations

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Entre-Deux-Mers
Premières Côtes de Bordeaux
Lalande de Pomerol
Lalande de Pomerol
Bordeaux Supérieur
Burgundy

Burgundy is much smaller than Bordeaux,
producing only half as much wine.
• In Bordeaux, the wine-producing estates grow their
own grapes, have the winemaking facility and aging
caves on the property, and market the wines under
their own name.
• In Burgundy, each village will have its own
appellation, and the vineyards within that village
may each have their own individual appellations.
Those vineyards, although very small, may also have
several owners.
Burgundy (cont.)

In Burgundy, winemaking facilities are
located in the towns, away from the
vineyards.
• The name under which a wine is marketed may be
that of a merchant or négoçiant, who is not
connected to the vineyards.
• The plethora of appellations and maze of ownership
along with négoçiant labels do indeed make
Burgundy difficult to comprehend.
• In the past few decades, moderately priced wines of
good quality are being produced in Burgundy.
Burgundy (cont.)

The history of wine production in Burgundy
precedes the Roman Empire.
• There is clear evidence that viticulture was well
established here by the second century AD.
• Over the next thousand years, Burgundy evolved
first into an independent kingdom that lasted until
the early eighth century.
• The most important factor in the development of the
winemaking of the region was the Catholic Church.
Burgundy (cont.)

During the Middle Ages, as its landholdings
increased, the Church played a crucial role
in perfecting techniques of viticulture and
wine making.
• The Cistercian order, in the northern part of
Burgundy, did extensive systematic research into the
relationship among grape varietal, soil and climate
conditions, and the wine that resulted.
• These monks were among the very first to
investigate and define the concept of terroir. From
their meticulous work evolved the idea of crus.
Burgundy (cont.)

After the Napoleonic Wars came to an end
in 1815, economic and political conditions
stabilized and wine production in Burgundy
expanded.
• With the rise of the bourgeoisie, France’s middle
class, a new market for Burgundy’s wines opened up.
• Attention to quality and authenticity was not
always maintained.
• Vintners and négoçiants could expand production by
blending in juice from grapes grown in inferior
vineyards outside of Burgundy.
Burgundy (cont.)



The passage in 1935 of the Appellation d’Origine
Contrôlée laws eliminated the worst of the fraud
and gave protection to the place names within
Burgundy.
The AOC laws also established standards of
viticulture and winemaking, thus increasing the
overall quality.
Since the 1980s, there has been a trend away from
the pattern of small growers selling their grapes to
négoçiants, and instead the number of proprietaire
labels has increased.
The Classification System of
Burgundy

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The analogy of concentric circles illustrates how French
appellations fit one inside the other as the geographic
designation gets smaller.
Generally, the smaller the appellation, the better and
more distinctive the wine.
The next circle in the hypothetical “target,” the regional
appellation.
The next smaller circle is the commune appellation.
The next two levels are for specific single vineyards.
The final level of quality for Burgundy, the “bull’s eye”
is the grand cru appellation.
The Wine Regions of
Burgundy
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Chablis
The Côte d’Or (Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune)
The Côte Chalonnaise
The Mâconnais
The Beaujolais
Chablis

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
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
Chablis is an appellation restricted to dry white
wine.
These are among the driest and most elegant wines
made from the Chardonnay grape.
The climate here is cool enough that the grapes
maintain an excellent crisp acidity.
The flavors fully evolve because the grapes enjoy a
lengthy ripening period hanging on the vines into
fall.
The vintners must be alert to the danger of frost.
T HE C ÔTE


D ’O R
Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, or Golden Slope, is one of
the world’s best areas for growing cool-climate
grapes.
The Cote d’Or is divided into two subregions:
• The northern portion is the Côte de Nuits (reds).
• The southern portion is the Côte de Beaune (whites).
T HE C ÔTE C HALONNAISE

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In the Côte Chalonnaise, there are four commune
appellations of particular importance. Moving from
north to south these villages are: Rully, Mercurey,
Givry, and Montagny.
The wines of the Chalonnaise lack the elegance,
depth, and longevity of those from the Côte d’Or.
But they can be charming, balanced, and
appealing.
These wines are also excellent values.
T HE M ÂCONNAIS



Marks the transition, climatically and geologically,
from northern to southern France
The majority of Mâconnais wines are white.
They are primarily Chardonnay, but another
grape, Aligoté, is also allowed.
T HE B EAUJOLAIS



Beaujolais is one of the most popular red wines in
many countries around the world.
Since the wine is only a few weeks old at the time
of release, it is termed nouveau, or new.
The portion of any vintage year’s wine that is not
sold as nouveau is released starting the next
spring.
C ÔTES




DU
R HÔNE
The region along the Rhône River in southern
France is an ancient wine-producing area.
For much of the length of the river the valley is
bursting with commercial activity.
The lowlands near the river are not promising for
growing quality grapes.
However, if one climbs up the slopes (the côtes) on
either side of the river, the topography changes
drastically and is better suited to growing grapes,
especially along the southern section.
T HE H ISTORY OF THE R HÔNE
V ALLEY

Although introduced by the Greeks,
viticulture did not take hold in the Rhône
until the early Christian period.
• After the decline of the Roman Empire, winemaking
essentially disappeared, until 1309, when Bertrand the
Goth was elected Pope Clement V.
• The new Pope established his papacy in Avignon and
planted grape vines. His successor, Pope John XXII,
continued to hold court in Avignon.
• Pope John’s large and beautiful new castle, that is, le
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, lent its name to the surrounding
vineyards and is one of the premier wine regions of the
Rhône.
T HE T ERROIR OF THE C ÔTES
R HÔNE

DU
The Rhône is separated into two regions,
the Northern Rhône and the Southern
Rhône.
• The entire region is warm and dry. But the North is
definitely cooler, and the vineyards here cling to the stony
soil of steep hillsides.
• The narrow northern section extends from Lyon to the
village of Valence, a distance of about 45 miles.
• The southern section begins south of the town of
Montélimar and continues on south of Avignon.
• Here the climate is definitely Mediterranean, very warm
and sunny and dry.
T HE T ERROIR OF THE C ÔTES
R HÔNE ( CONT .)

DU
The principal grape varietals of the
Northern Rhône is Syrah for reds and
Viognier for whites. The Syrah grape
produces full-bodied wines with fruity
aromas.
• Tight and austere when young, Syrah-based
reds will open up to show accessible flavors
when mature.
• Viognier grapes have a deep yellow color and
possess an intriguing floral/fruity aroma.
T HE T ERROIR OF THE C ÔTES
R HÔNE ( CONT .)




DU
The vineyards of the southern Rhône support a
much more complex array of grape varietals.
Whereas the wines of the Northern Rhône, both
reds and whites, are mostly single-varietal, those of
the Southern Rhône are blends of several varietals.
The principal red grape of the southern
appellations is the Grenache, a noble varietal that
thrives in warm, sunny climates.
Other varietals used for blending include
Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Cinsaut, for reds, and
Marsanne and Rousanne for whites.
T HE T ERROIR OF THE C ÔTES
R HÔNE ( CONT .)

DU
The southern section of the Rhône Valley is
much larger than the northern one.
• The total acreage for the entire appellation is
almost 150,000 acres.
• Of that, only 5,900 acres are in the nine
communes and crus of the Northern Rhône.
• The rest is in that very large, highly varied
region of the Southern Rhône.
T HE A PPELLATIONS OF
C ÔTES DU R HÔNE



THE
Côtes du Rhône: Almost 98,000 acres, with
7,000,000 cases, mostly red, produced annually;
quality can vary widely.
Côtes du Rhône-Villages: The standards are
higher; the vineyard yield per acre must be lower,
and the minimum alcohol content is higher.
Commune: The best wines carry the name of the
commune or village where the vineyards are
located.
T HE N ORTHERN R HÔNE

Moving from north to south, the important
communes of the Northern Rhône are:
• Côte Rôtie
• Condrieu
• Chateau-Grillet,
•
•
•
•
St. Joseph
Crozes-Hermitage
Hermitage
Cornas
St. Peray
T HE S OUTHERN C ÔTES

DU
R HÔNE
Whereas the communes of the Northern
Rhône are compact and dense, the Southern
Rhône’s appellations spread out in a huge
lopsided circle.
• In this enormous region of almost 100,000 acres
of vineyards, there is tremendous variation in
terroir and in styles of wine.
• Approximately 85 percent of the wine made here
is red. About 5 percent is dry white.
• There is also some very good rosé made, and
very small quantities of sweet fortified dessert
wine.
T HE S OUTHERN C ÔTES

DU
R HÔNE
From north to south, the most important
appellations of the Southern Rhône are:
• Coteaux de Tricastan
• Gigondas
• Muscat Beaumes de Venise
• Vacqueyras
• Châteauneuf-du-Pape
• Tavel
• Côtes du Ventoux
• Côtes du Lubéron
C HAMPAGNE

No appellation in the history of wine has been more
misused than the term Champagne.
• Champagne is a geographic region in France, and only
wine made in a specific method from specified grape
varietals grown inside the boundaries of that region is
technically Champagne.

Champagne started out in the time of the Roman
Empire as a producer of still white wines most of
which was consumed by Roman legions.
T HE H ISTORY



OF
C HAMPAGNE
After the decline of the empire, the vineyards were
destroyed and winemaking disappeared.
As Christianity moved into northern Europe,
winemaking re-emerged and the vineyards of
Champagne flourished
Monks rescued the vineyards of Champagne.
• A monk, Dom Perignon used his skills in the vineyard and
cellar to help develop the techniques used to make
Champagne.
• The sparkling wine of Champagne did not find immediate
favor, but once it was discovered by the royal court in the
late eighteenth century it became the wine of celebration.
T HE H ISTORY OF C HAMPAGNE
( CONT .)

Demand for Champagne increased at such a
rate that demand could not keep up.
• Some producers expanded production with
inferior grapes from outside Champagne. Fraud
became so widespread that growers revolted in
1911, demanding protection.
• In 1927 the French government implemented
laws spelling out the boundaries of the region.
• With the 1935 national Appellation d’Origin
Contrôlée laws, the Champagne name received
full protection.
V ITICULTURE



IN
C HAMPAGNE
There are three grapes that are allowed in
Champagne:
• Chardonnay
• Pinot Meunier
• Pinot Noir
The latter two are red grapes, but the juice of these
grapes is white.
There are over 72,000 acres of vineyards, owned by
19,000 individual growers.
T HE T ERROIR

OF
C HAMPAGNE
High concentration of chalk in the soil.
• The poor nutritional content of the soil means the vines
have low vigor.

Champagne is farther north than any other
important wine region, and the damp cold weather
barely allows grapes to ripen.
• Acidity levels stay high in such a cool climate, which is
desirable in any sparkling wine.
• However, a minimum sugar level must be reached, and if
the temperatures stay too cool, the grapes have a difficult
time reaching the necessary ripeness.
C HAMPAGNE P RODUCERS AND
S TYLE OF THE W INE


THE
There are approximately 110 houses (or, in French,
marques) that make Champagne.
• Because these companies own only 10 percent of
the vineyards in Champagne, they buy most of
their grapes from growers.
The oldest, most established houses are called
grands marques.
C HAMPAGNE P RODUCERS AND THE
S TYLE OF THE W INE ( CONT .)

Champagnes are bottled at different levels
of sweetness:
• Extra Brut: Dry; residual sugar is less than
0.6 percent per liter.
• Brut: This is the most common
classification, and forms the backbone of any
house’s line. Residual sugar is between 0.5
and 1.5 percent per liter.
• Extra Dry: These Champagnes are off-dry,
with residual sugar between 1.0 and 2
percent.
C HAMPAGNE P RODUCERS AND THE
S TYLE OF THE W INE ( CONT .)
• Sec: Although sec means “dry,” these
Champagnes have noticeable sugar—between 2
and 3.5 percent.
• Demi-Sec: The literal translation is “off-dry,”
but these are quite sweet. The sugar is between
3.5 and 5 percent. These Champagnes are meant
to be served with dessert.
• Doux: The sweetest form of Champagne has a
minimum of 5.5 percent sugar, and in some
cases contains as much as 8 percent.
C HAMPAGNE P RODUCERS AND THE
S TYLE OF THE W INE ( CONT .)





Nonvintage: Grapes from several different years
are blended together to get consistency of quality
Vintage: If conditions are favorable, the winemaker can choose not to blend in wine reserved
from lesser vintages.
Blanc de blancs: Literally, “white from white”
Blanc de noir: Literally, “white from black.” The
wine is made from the two allowed red varietals.
Rosé: If some red wine is added to a cuvée of white
wine, or if the juice of the red wines is given some
skin contact, the resulting Champagne will be a
rosé.
C HAMPAGNE P RODUCERS AND THE
S TYLE OF THE W INE ( CONT .)

Tête de cuvée: Most marques have a prestige
label, the top of the line. These bottlings are almost
always made from vintage brut. Each marque has a
name for their tête de cuvee.
• Each marque’s distinct house style guarantees
consistency of quality in every release.
• Among the factors that influence the style are the
proportion of Chardonnay to the red grapes; the
vineyards; the blending (assemblage); the time spent
aging on the lees.
Alsace

Two natural barriers define Alsace:
• On the west, the Vosges mountains separate Alsace from
France.
• On the east, the Rhine runs between Alsace and Germany.


Forced by conflicts between these two powerful
nations to change political affiliation many times
over 1,000 years, the people of Alsace have
absorbed the influences of each culture.
The wines produced here (90 percent of which is
white) are named for the varietals, mostly of
German origin, from which they are made.
T HE T ERROIR

OF
A LSACE
Although Alsace lies quite far north (of
French wine regions, only Champagne is
more northerly), it enjoys a far milder
climate.
• The warmer temperatures and lower rainfall are
due primarily to protection from the prevailing
westerly winds provided by the Vosges
mountains.
• Winters can be quite cold, but spring is mild
allowing for good bud-set, summers are usually
warm and sunny, and very importantly, fall
stays sunny, dry, and frost-free on into October.
T HE V ARIETIES

OF
A LSACE
The varietals of Alsace are Riesling, Gewürztraminer,
Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Chasselas,
and Sylvaner.
• Riesling takes just over 20 percent of vineyard acreage,
and that is increasing as Sylvaner, a blending grape, is
being removed, but still accounts for 20 percent of
acreage.
• Pinot Blanc is widely planted and accounts for another 20
percent of acreage.
• Gewürztraminer can be a picky grape to work with, being
slow to ripen, but it accounts for 20 percent of the
vineyards space.
• Pinot Noir, Alsace’s only red varietal, now covers about 5
percent of acreage.
C LASSIFICATIONS

OF
A LSACE
The great vineyards of Alsace have long
been recognized.
• For two decades after being awarded AOC
status, the vignerons of Alsace saw no need for a
system of classification of their vineyards.
• The grand cru appellation was created in 1983,
and has been creating controversy ever since.
• Of the 94 sites originally considered for
designation as grand cru, 25 were initially
chosen in 1983.
W INES
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


OF
Riesling
Gewürztraminer
Pinot Gris
Pinot Blanc
Pinot Noir
Crémant d’Alsace
Vendange Tardive
Sélection de Grains Noble
A LSACE
T HE L OI RE V ALLEY



There is a large, regional appellation of the vin de pays
level that encompasses all the Loire Valley and some of
its surrounding areas: Vin de pays du jardin de France,
“Wine from the Garden of France.”
The Loire and its tributaries drain a quarter of the land
mass of France. The jardin de France
is a huge area, where a variety of fruits and vegetables
is grown, livestock and dairy cows graze, and a total of
almost 440,000 acres of grapevines is planted.
However, the fine wines of the Loire AOC appellation
are found only in the final third of the area.
T HE L OI RE V ALLEY ( CONT .)

Viticulture in the Loire Valley has been
traced back as far as the eighth century AD.
• Many of the aristocrats who built their châteaux
along the river during the next several hundred
years also planted grapevines. By the late eleventh
century, the wines of the Loire were highly regarded
in France.
• Commerce in the fine wines of the Loire continued to
grow, and its reputation enhanced until the move by
King Henri IV to Paris. Loire wine production was
cut back. Most wine was consumed locally.
T HE U PPER L OIRE



The majority of wine made here is made
entirely from the Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
There is a little red wine made from the
Pinot Noir.
The appellations are the names of
individual communes.
•
•
•
•
•
Pouilly-Fumé
Sancerre
Menetou-Salon
Quincy
Reuilly
C ENTRAL L OIRE

Touraine: Named for the city of Tours, this region
is home to a variety of wines—white, red, rosé, and
sparkling.
• Wine from approved varietals grown within the
Touraine region, but outside any of the commune
appellations, or a blend of grapes from two or more
communes, is given the generic appellation of
Touraine.
• Both white and red wines are produced in almost
equal quantities.
C ENTRAL L OIRE ( CONT .)

Anjou/Saumur: The large province of Anjou
contains 19 appellations at the AOC level,
including generic Anjou and generic Saumur.
• The vineyards of Anjou cover 35,600 acres. A variety
of wines is made here, including dry whites, reds,
rosés, sparkling wine, and sweet whites.
• Rosé d’Anjou is made in copious quantities from a
lesser grape. Much better are the dry and semisweet
rosés made from the Cabernet Franc varietal.
L OWER L OIRE

The Nantes, or Atlantic region, of the Loire
is home to the bone-dry white wine,
Muscadet.
• The grape called Muscadet is actually Melon de
Bourgogne.
• The grape is easy to grow, has high yields, and
produces a clean, fresh, uncomplicated wine that
perfectly complements the seafood diet of the region.
• Over three-quarters of Muscadet comes from
vineyards in the Sèvre et Maine district, named for
the two rivers that flow through it to join the Loire.
T HE S OUTH

OF
F RANCE
The six major wine regions of France covered
so far account for only one-third of the AOC
production, and barely 15 percent of total wine
production, for the country.
• There are a great many other regions producing very
nice wine. Many of the best of the lesser-known
appellation d’origine contrôlée regions are found in
the South of France.
• In the past the south was known for rugged, mostly
red wines, made from indigenous varietals like
Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignan.
T HE S OUTH

OF
F RANCE ( CONT .)
In the past several decades, there have been
improvements in the quality of wines.
• Partially this is due to the planting of better
varieties.
• Another factor has been the modernization of
winemaking techniques.
• In the south of France, one can now find some
impressively elegant and balanced wines.
P ROVENCE



Provence extends from the delta of the Rhône River
east to the border with Italy.
There are eight AOC appellations in Provence.
There is also a large section, the Coteaux Varois,
which is rated VDQS.
L ANGUEDOC -R OUSSILLON



The very sizable region of Languedoc-Roussillon,
also known as the Midi, is popular tourist
destination on the Mediterranean.
The region is producing ever-improving wines as
investment in the area and awareness of its wines
in foreign markets have increased.
This very large and varied region reaches from the
western side of the Rhône delta along the coast to
the border with Spain at the Pyrénees mountains.
T HE S OUTHWEST

Encompasses a huge part of France, including all
viticultural areas south of Bordeaux and east of the
Midi
• Variety of terrains, microclimates, soil types, and
winemaking preferences.
• Of the 70,000 acres of vines in the Southwest, only about
half produce AOC wines.


Madiran: The principal grape is the Tannat,
which is made into big heavy complex wines, quite
tannic.
Bergerac: Source of a variety of wines—dry
whites, reds, rosé, sparkling and sweet whites.
C ORSICA

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The island of Corsica, off the coast of southern is
Europe’s oldest wine-producing region.
Dates from 570 BC when Phoenicians first settled
there.
Corsica produces a wide variety of wines, red,
white, rosé, still, sparkling, and sweet.
Most is vin de pays and vin ordinaire.
Very little Corsican wine, even the miniscule
amount that is AOC, is exported off the island.