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French Wines

French Wines

French wines are not industrialized products. They are the product of a grouping of factors, including grape variety, climate, soil and the wine grower?s care for the vineyards.
Climates
France has an advantage that many other countries do not: its geographic multiplicity. Its many different climates and types of soils come together like the portions of a puzzle to create a winegrowing area so varied and unique that there is always something new to discover. The different climates are:
Maritime climate
Continental climate
Mediterranean climateWine categories
Viticulture has subsisted for two thousand years in France. The intimate knowledge of the soils, climates and vines themselves collected across this phase of time have allowed wine growers to continuously progress regulation and preservation of quality.

Wine Production
Here you will find all the information you require to understand wine production. Even if the transformation of grapes into wine is a natural and spontaneous process, it is not the only factor that determines a wine?s quality. And a red wine is not made the same way as a white. In addition, ros?s are not a mix of white and red wine?much effort goes into determining their color!
French Wines

Black Grape Varieties
Black grape varieties have a light colored pulp like white varieties. It is their dark colored skin that contains the grape?s pigments and tannins that will be imparted to the wine during fermentation. Some varieties are more heavily pigmented or tannic than others, which affects the wine that is produced from them.
Cabernet franc
shining star of Loire reds, the robust and early-ripening Cabernet Franc does not have much in common with the similarly named Cabernet Sauvignon.It can be cellared very effectively.
Where is this variety grown?
Bordeaux, Charentes, Sud-Ouest, Val de Loire
Cabernet sauvignon
Not much needs to be said, as Cabernet Sauvignon has become well known worldwide. It comes primarily from M?doc, where its optimum expression can be obtained by blending it with Merlot.
Where is this variety grown?
Bordeaux, Charentes, Languedoc – Roussillon, Provence, Sud-Ouest, Val de Loire
Carignan
As it has naturally high yields, it has long been used for mass produced wines and lower quality table wines. Today however, its strengths are coming to the forefront.
Where is this variety grown?
Languedoc – Roussillon, Provence, Vall?e du Rh?ne
Cinsaut
Often blended with Carignan, Cinsaut also has been tagged with a poor reputation, as it was formerly produced in mass quantities. Today, Cinsaut is only planted on 45,000 hectares worldwide, of which 30,000 are in France, and its yields are kept low to obtain more fragrant, balanced wines.
Languedoc – Roussillon, Provence, Vall?e du Rh?ne
Gamay
Another name for Gamay is Gamay Beaujolais, which is a clear sign that the variety and the region are inseparable. A full 60% of the world?s Gamay is planted in Beaujolais, where it derives excellent expression from the nutrient-poor, acidic granite soils.
Where is this variety grown?
Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Jura – Savoie, Sud-Ouest, Val de Loire
Grenache
Originally from Aragon, which dominated the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, Grenache is one of southern France?s noble grape varieties. As it is susceptible to disease, the windy climates of Languedoc and the Rhone Valley help keep it healthy.
Where is this variety grown?
Languedoc – Roussillon, Provence, Vall?e du Rh?ne
Grolleau
Best known for the off-dry Ros?s d?Anjou, Grolleau is now used to produce delicate, fruity red wines and the wines of the Ros? de Loire AOC as well as the Saumur AOC?s sparkling wines.
Where is this variety grown?
Bourgogne, Val de Loire
Merlot
Merlot has many fine points: a beautiful deep red color, a delicious array of aromas, including lightly spiced red fruit and plums, and a powerful but delicate structure with tannins that are velvety, but still present. Considering that it complements Cabernet Sauvignon, and is often blended with that variety, it is clear that Merlot has still has a promising future ahead.
Where is this variety grown?
Bordeaux, Charentes, Languedoc – Roussillon, Sud-Ouest
Mourv?dre
Originating in Provence in the 14th century, this grape variety spread in large quantities to Spain, perhaps because Provence was under Catalan rule. Today, with 7,500 hectares in cultivation in France, it remains an important variety in Provence and Languedoc.
Where is this variety grown?
Languedoc – Roussillon, Provence, Vall?e du Rh?ne
Pinot noir
Cultivated by the Gauls before the Roman invasion, Pinot Noir has always been right at home in Burgundy. It has since been planted in Alsace, Germany and even in the coolest parts of Spain or in the U.S. state of Oregon.
Where is this variety grown?
Alsace, Bourgogne, Champagne, Jura – Savoie, Val de Loire
Sciacarello
It offers excellent expression when grown on Corsica?s granite soils and is widely cultivated on the western portion of the island, from Ajaccio to Sart?ne. Well ripened by the Mediterranean sun, it produces an elegant, powerful wine with full tannins and aromas of pepper and spices. It is grown on approximately 1,500 hectares.
Where is this variety grown?
Corse
Syrah
Legend has it that Syrah was brought back from the Crusades in 1224 after a long voyage from the Iranian city of Shiraz, but experts are still debating this theory. However, this grape variety found just what it needed in the Rhone Valley to flourish.
Where is this variety grown?
Languedoc – Roussillon, Provence, Sud-Ouest, Vall?e du Rh?ne
Tannat
A hearty grape, it produces deeply colored, powerful wines and its tannins can be tamed to be more smooth and round while retaining their aging potential. Tannat is the leading grape variety of the Madiran appellation in southern Aquitaine, but it is also found in the neighboring AOCs of B?arn and Tursan as well as in the C?tes de Saint Mont VDQS.

Cellaring
Wines are living products enclosing more than 900 identified substances to date. Many reactions take place in the bottle, some of which are sought-after for the aromas that they create. However, the aging of a wine depends on two factors: first, what is in the bottle, and second, the circumstances in which the bottle is kept. In other words, the richer, more powerful, acidic and tannic the wine, the greater aging potential it possesses. Peculiarly, following this logic, a Gaillac Primeur would age for a much longer time than a Saint Est?phe Grand Cru Class?, which is not what is expected out of a fragrant, approachable nouveau wine..

In addition, dry wines generally age less well than most red wines as they contain no tannins, while sweet wines age much longer than most reds due to their fragrant power and their sugar content. As for the second factor of aging, the cellaring of the bottle itself, temperatures higher than 14?C (57?F) speed the aging procedure. So does straight sunlight, which increases the reactions. But tremendous temperatures are the most destructive to wines. Keeping a fine bottle of wine for two years in a kitchen cupboard where the summer temperatures climb to 85 degrees will age it prematurely.
Less than 1 year:
Beaujolais and other AOCs that produce nouveau wines
Nouveau Vins de Pays
1 to 5 years:
Champagne, Alsace, Beaujolais, Jura, Savoie, Provence, Corsica, Languedoc Roussillon
Southwest: Bergerac, Gaillac, Fronton
Loire Valley: Touraine, Anjou, Muscadet sur Lie, Sancerre
AOC Sparkling wines: Cr?mants, Blanquette, Clairette de Die
Regional Appellations of Burgundy: Macon, Burgundy, Hautes C?tes de Nuits
Regional Appellations of Bordeaux: Bordeaux and Bordeaux Sup?rieurs, dry Bordeaux Blancs
Regional Appellations of the Rhone Valley: C?tes du Rh?ne, C?tes du Rh?ne-Villages, Ros? de Tavel
Up to 10 years:
Communal Appellations of Burgundy, whites and reds: Chablis, Pouilly Fuiss?, Gevrey Chambertin, Beaune, Volnay,
Bordeaux. Regional Appellations of the Left Bank: M?doc and Haut M?doc, Graves
Communal Appellations of Bordeaux: Saint Emilion, Pomerol,
Rh?ne Valley: Communal Appellations
Languedoc-Roussillon: Vins Doux Naturels, Maury, Banyuls, Muscat de Rivesaltes
Loire Valley. Touraine reds: Chinon, Bourgueil
Up to 20 years :
Burgundy: Premiers Crus and Grands Crus
Rhone Valley: Red Crus – C?te R?tie, Hermitage, Cornas, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas
Bordeaux: Communal Appellations of M?doc and Graves: Pessac-L?ognan, Margaux, Pauillac, Moulis. Grands Crus, Crus Bourgeois.
Loire Valley: Off-dry and sweet whites: C?teaux du Layon, Bonnezeaux
Over 20 years:
Jura: Vin Jaune and Vins de Paille
Languedoc-Roussillon: Banyuls Grand Cru
Southwest: Sweet wines: Juran?on, Monbazillac, Pacherenc
Bordeaux: Sweet wines: Sauternes, Barsac, Loupiac, and also some Grands Crus from M?doc and Graves

Tasting
Tasting is not hard when one knows how to do it. It is an observation process that requires your eyes, nose and palate. The result is an overall feeling of a wine?s general balance, as well as its complexity. First, use your eyes to evaluate the color and nuances of the wine. Then, bring the glass to your nose to smell the aromas that are automatically released. Next, swirl the glass to stimulate the release of additional aromas in the wine. Finally, roll the wine around on your palate to complete the process by identifying physical sensations such as a wine?s acidity, depth and structure.

Labels
Wine labels are designed to convince you to buy the product, but some elements listed are mandatory and help make sure the quality of the product. You can easily learn to find them.
The main purpose of the label is to inform the customer, before the wine is uncorked, about the contents of the bottle and the quality that can be expected. Some elements are mandatory and are regulated by French consumer protection services. The rest, such as the brand name or vineyard, are optional:
1 – Mandatory: Regional designation, either ?Appellation d?Origine Contr?l?e? or ?Vin de Pays?, followed by the appellation name or the geographic area where the wine was produced. Example: ?Appellation Bourgogne Contr?l?e? or ?Vin de Pays d?Oc?
2 – Mandatory: Name or company name of the bottler who is legally responsible for the wine and address of the corresponding head office. This information must be accompanied by the statement ?Mis en bouteille par?? (?Bottled by??) or ?Soci?t? (Dupont) embouteilleur? (Dupont, bottling company). Example: ?Mis en bouteille par (Dupont) ? 33256 Carignan? (Bottled by Dupont in Carignan, 33256)
3 – Mandatory: Bottle volume in liters, centiliters or milliliters
4 – Mandatory: Degree of alcohol content, listed in % of total wine volume
Optional: brand name, Ch?teau (estate) picture, gold border on label, ?Carte Noire? designation (indicates a wine has been aged several years), vintage, back label, ?Vieilles Vignes? (Old Vines), ?Mis en Bouteilles ? la propri?t?? (Estate Bottled).

In the Champagne region, the mandatory label elements are the same as for AOC wines, because Champagne is itself an appellation controll?e. However, the process of making champagne, its residual sugar level and regional authorities often force producers to include more information on their labels.
1 – Mandatory: AOC designation, in this case just the word ?Champagne?
2 – Mandatory: Brand name
3 – Mandatory: Bottle volume in liters, centiliters or milliliters
4 – Mandatory: Degree of alcohol content, listed in % of total wine volume
5 – Mandatory: Residual sugar levels, from the lowest (Brut Nature) to the highest (Doux), with Brut, Extra Dry, Sec and Demi-sec in between.
6 – Mandatory: The name or company name of the winemaker, the name of the village or town where production activities take place and the word ?France?.
7 – Mandatory: The winemaker?s official registration number, preceded by the initials that signify the corresponding profession, including NM for Negociant Manipulant (Champagne house), RM for R?coltant Manipulant (winemaker that produces exclusively from his or her own grapes) and RC for R?coltant Coop?rateur (a wine maker who has Champagne made by a cooperative) among others.

Even Vin de Table (table wines) produced in France are subject to strict marketing regulations.
1 – Mandatory: ?Vin de Table de France? or ?Vin de Table Fran?ais? designation. French wines blended with wines from other countries cannot be included in this category.
2 – Mandatory: Name or company name of the bottler who is legally responsible for the wine and address of the corresponding head office. To avoid confusion, the name of the village or town must be replaced by its zip code to avoid it being confused with an AOC.
3 – Mandatory: Bottle volume in liters, centiliters or milliliters
4 – Mandatory: Degree of alcohol content, listed in % of total wine volume
Optional: Brand name

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