France is arguably one of the most renowned wine regions in the world. While it is not where the very first vines were planted or wines were made, they play a quintessential part in the world's wine history. French wine can come across as highly daunting to most wine enthusiasts, but it doesn't have to be. It is a high-quality wine region that is also at the forefront of sustainable winemaking. Understanding French wine opens up a whole new world for wine lovers from across the globe.
French Wine Regions
France has eleven wine regions, each of which focuses on its own specific wine varieties. France has one of the most strict wine regulations in the world, dictating precisely what grapes can be grown in each region and how these wines can be made and aged. While it may be unnecessary in some cases, these strict rules have ensured top-quality wines that are greatly sought after. Some of the most renowned regions include:
Bordeaux is by far the most famous wine region that is best known for its red blends. The area is split into half by three rivers, each half of the region focusing on a different grape variety. On the right side of the river, the focal point is Merlot, while on the left bank, Cabernet Sauvignon is the focal point. In addition, both banks can use these grapes in combination with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and Carménère to make their blends.
After Bordeaux, Burgundy is another renowned French region situated just right of Bordeaux. Here, both red and white wines have made the region famous. While they are permitted to grow a few different grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are by far the most renowned, better known as red and white Burgundies. These wines have built such a reputation for quality that some of the world's most expensive wines are from Burgundy.
The Rhone Valley, also on the right of France, makes a number of robust red wines. The Valley is also split into two halves, with wines in the north differing slightly from the wines from the south. While the Northern Rhone Valley focuses mainly on Syrah, the Southern Rhone Valley has a large scope of varieties. It is in the Southern Rhone Valley where the famous Chateauneuf du Pape sub-region is located, where over 13 grapes are permitted for making wine.
The South West of France is definitely one of France's most underrated wine regions but is responsible for a number of prestigious wines. Here, Malbec and Cabernet Franc are often used to make single-variety wines, which is rarely done in other French wine regions, highlighting the region's uniqueness.
Alsace is a small wine region on the German border, where a number of fragrant wines are made. Here, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Gewürztraminer are the leading white wines, with a small amount of Pinot Noir.
Champagne is the world's number one sparkling wine region, renowned for kickstarting the sparkling-wine craze. Using Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay, the local winemakers make some of these prestigious sparkling wines.
Provence is the country's rosé capital, producing a large amount of powerful, high-quality rosés. While in some French wine regions, making rosé is taboo, it accounts for more than half of this region's wines.
The Loire Valley is the country's longest wine region, stretching from the western ocean to almost midway through the country. Because of that, the country is capable of making a vast range of wine styles, from crisp white wines to robust reds.
Sustainability in French Wines
Considering France is constantly at the forefront of the wine industry, it is no surprise that they are taking the lead when it comes to sustainable winemaking practices. This is especially true since the French wine regions are suffering at the hands of climate change, threatening the status quo of the winemaking traditions.
As a result, the winemakers are making a massive shift to sustainable vineyards and winemaking. According to France's National Wine Sector, at least half the country's winemakers will achieve sustainability and organic certifications in the next three years. The practices enforced by these producers include the shift away from pesticides while aiming to lessen their carbon footprint.
Not only will cellar practices change, but packaging alternatives will also come into play. Not only will the shift to sustainable wine practices be a big step for France, but it will prove to wine regions around the world that it can be done, and many countries will follow suit.
France has eleven wine regions, each of which focuses on its own specific wine varieties.