FRANCE

Bourgogne

 

Corbières

Côtes de Provence

Côtes du Rhône

 

Minervois

 

Northern Rhône

Vin de France 'Bergerac'

 

 

French wine originates from the Greeks in the first half of the 1st millennium BC when they introduced viticulture in southern Gaul as well as Sicily and southern Italy. Later the Roman Empire developed and managed further viticulture in France and throughout their Empire to finally establish a proper wine trade. From 300 A.D. Christianity contributed to spreading viticulture throughout France. A new period of upheaval followed with numerous conquests especially in the south west of France resulting in destruction or neglect, notably when Bordeaux was pillaged in 870 by the Moors.
The middle age was a turbulent period in history; thankfully monks maintained vineyards and also preserved winemaking knowledge and skills. Monasteries were safe and had the adequate resources; they also needed to produce wine for mass and to generate an income. Wines produced in monasteries were considered superior and they also owned the best vineyards throughout France. Dom Pérignon is the most famous monk linked to wine in France, in the 17th century he laid the foundations of Champagne as we know it today, monasteries are the founders of the wine industry in Burgundy and many other French wine growing regions. With the French revolution at the end of the 1700’s land owned by the clergy was redistributed to become privately owned and private chateaux emerged.
Geographical and climatic diversity combined make of France the most richly diverse wine country in the world. Terroir is the focal point of wine production where climatic conditions, geography, soil and the environment dictate what is best suited to a specific site; this knowledge was acquired over centuries of experience. It is now formalized with the Appellation d’Origine Controlée (A.O.C.) system that was officially established in the early 1900’s. The classification system is a far reaching quality control method, also the A.O.C. system aims at restricting the use of the varietals name on the label unless it is a long established tradition, the A.O.C. sees the uniqueness of French wines in its terroir and not the grapes. Wine is divided in two groups with – quality wine (A.C. & VDQS) and table wine (Vin de Pays or Vin de Table). There are now close to 450 different A.O.C.
To reach the top classification level and qualify to be labeled as an “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” the wine has to fulfill criteria in seven categories. These categories are: the land in which the grape is grown, the variety of grape, the degree of alcohol in the wine, the yield of the vineyard, the way in which the vineyard owners grow and harvest the grapes, the way the wine is actually made and the wines must also pass a taste test plus certain technical tests. If the wine doesn’t meet these requirements it is demoted to a “Vin de Pays”. The A.O.C. system has also inspired the Spanish and Italian systems that are more simplified versions.

France is the first wine producer in the world and the second most planted country after Spain with over
800 000 ha of vineyards spread throughout the country. But most importantly it is often considered as a benchmark for wine quality throughout the world, despite world competitors continuous attempts to prove that what France can do they can also match or outperform, the point of reference still seems to stay the same...
In French culture wine and gastronomy are intimately connected and part of the country’s identity. Each region with its wines and gastronomy reveal its own specificity and identity.

French wine region map