Our Favorite French Wine Regions

Castles and green rolling hills are just a few distinct characteristics of French wine regions, and these lend a romantic ambience to some of the world’s best viticulture. Along with Italy, France is one of the world’s top two wine producers. Netting more than seven billion bottles annually, France is the source of many popular grape varieties, including Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Wine in France began to flourish when the Greeks founded Marseille in the sixth century BC. Over more than two thousand years, viticulture expanded and became a crucial part of French culture and civilization. The two world wars and subsequent economic downturn left France’s wine industry desolate, leading to the establishment of the appellation d’origine contrôlée, the government-run certification system for wines, cheeses and other agricultural products.

With one of the oldest systems for protected designation of origin (PDO) for wine, France’s strict winemaking laws and production requirements have led to a much-deserved reputation for quality. Today, nearly all popular wine styles—from reds and whites to sparkling and fortified wines—are produced in France.

Wines like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are all popular in France. Unlike Italy and the United States, however, wines in France are categorized by their appellations instead of their grape varieties. Below are some of the distinct wines that can be found throughout the country:

Primarily red, Bordeaux is made from a blend of grapes from France’s Bordeaux region. Most Bordeaux wines are a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Though Pinot Noir can be found in several French regions, it’s primarily associated with the Burgundy region. Red Burgundy wines are made entirely from Pinot Noir grapes and are coveted primarily for their terroir.

This appellation is in the Rhone region. Syrah and Viognier are the two most common grape varieties of the Côte-Rôtie, which are known for their distinct aromas.

Chinon wines are from a small town in the Loire Valley and are made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Made to go well with food, Chinons are generally light to medium bodied.

Also made in the Loire Valley, Bourgueil appellation wines are primarily made of Cabernet Franc, but up to 10 percent of the wine made is from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

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