French Wine Regions

The English and the French have had their disagreements in the past, but most English people would agree, albeit begrudgingly, that the best wine in the world comes from across the channel. More than two million acres of French land is turned over to the vine, which translates into a staggering amount of bottles. Although second to Spain in area of cultivated vineyards, France rightly claims to be the world's largest wine producer, with the Languedoc-Roussilion region in the South alone, producing more wine than the entire United States.

By the time Jesus turned water to wine, viticulture in France had been established for many centuries. It was the Greeks who started it all with their colonization of Marseille, and later the Romans were all too willing to pick up the baton and run with it. In the Middle Ages, Monks were the guardians of the wine-makers skills. They not only made wine for their own use, but also sold it to a grateful public, who considered wine from the monasteries to be of the finest quality. Today, French wine producers are protected and policed by the 'Institut National des Apellations d'Origine', who make sure that a wine meets with the strict guidelines imposed.

Wine producers throughout the country are naturally proud of their world renowned product, and rightly so, with each region having its distinctive taste and style.

Alasace, in Eastern France shares the Rhine River with Germany, and is predominantly an area concerned with the production of white wine. Many grape varieties used in this region are also employed by the Germans.

Bordeaux on the other hand is a producer of red wine, although it does boast some of the world's most famous sweet whites, such as Chateau d'Yquem and Barsac. The well known red wine producer, Chateau Lafite lies in this area. Situated on the Atlantic coast, Bordeaux has a long tradition of wine exportation, which I suspect will continue for many years hence.

In Burgundy, red and white wines share equal billing, with Cote d'Or being the most famous and possibly one of the most expensive too. The three main varietal wines in Burgundy are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Aligote. Beaujolais, although in the Burgundy area is quite often considered as a separate region. Here, red wine is king, Beaujolais Nouveau is the only wine that can be consumed in the year of its production. White wines are made in Chablis, which also comes under the jurisdiction of Burgundy.

Champagne in the east of France has the coldest climate of all the major wine regions. Although a small quantity of 'still' wine is made, the region is of course famous for its sparkling wines.

Corsica produces a local wine that very rarely leaves the shores of the Mediterranean island. It has nine of its own wine regions and a vin de pays designation system in place.

The lesser known Jura is a mountainous region near Switzerland where Vin Jaune and Vin de Paille are produced. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties are used here.

Languedoc Roussillon has the largest growing area in France and is responsible for the large amount of cheap wine produced in the country. As mentioned earlier, more wine is produced in this region than the whole of the United States of America.

The Loire Valley produces mainly white wines along the stretch of the Loire river in central and western France. It is divided into the four sub-regions of Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, Anjou-Saumar and Pays Nantais. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc originate from Touraine, whilst Sancerre is from the Upper Loire (Sauvignon Blanc).

Provence lies in a temperate zone on the South-east coast and is the home of Bandol, where the now famous wine festival is held every December.

The Rhone Valley is primarily a producer of red wine with the north and south areas differing in style.

Lying between lakes and mountains, The Savoie or Savoy region makes white wines in an alpine region close to Switzerland.

The South West of France is home to such names as Bergerac, Cotes de Gascogne and Armagnac.

The regions mentioned above are the major wine producers of France, however there are many more smaller areas that lie outside of these, especially in the north of the country.

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About The Author, Alan Liptrot
Alan Liptrot writes for http://www.yourholidayrentals.com providing worldwide holiday accommodation. The original article, along with other interesting articles can be found at http://www.yourholidayrentals.com/inspiration/