Wine Making Regions

The Top 6 Wine Producing Regions of France

France can be divided up into 12 well known wine producing regions. Just because a wine is made in one of the regions does not give it the right to use the name of that region. In order to protect the quality of the names, the French developed the INAO, the institute of controlled names of origins. This organization uses factors such a geography, grape variety, harvest, alcohol content and wine making process, to determine whether a vineyard has the right to use the regional name on their bottle. This process is referred to as AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée). The system developed by the INAO has become fairly standard worldwide. Since the ‘controlling’ process is so involved, only the finest wines submit to the INAO. Many smaller vineyards will avoid this process. Being accepted officially by the INAO will greatly boost sales, because people know and trust the names.

Here are some of the most popular regions/names of French Wine

Bordeaux

Bordeaux is probably the most popular French region associated with wine. Coming from the region surrounding the southern city of Bordeaux, these wines are also commonly known clarets. Bordeaux produces more wine than any other region in France. While some dry and white wines come from Bordeaux the regional product is most often red. There are sub regions to the Bordeaux name. Medoc wines are known for being bright and distinct, whereas the St Emilion wines have a fuller body and are usually darker in color. There are more than 60 controlled appellations in the Bordeaux region. Some of the most sought after sweet wines in the world come from the Sauternes part of Bordeaux. While strict labeling is usually enforced, when looking at French wines from Bordeaux in other countries, some lesser wines manage to get away with using the name as well. It is always best to find out about a particular name and vintage before you invest any serious money in a bottle.

Burgundy

The Burgogne region is probably second best known in France. Usually referred to as Burgundy, this region produces both red and white wines that are strictly controlled as well. Burgundy wines come from the eastern side of France, near the Swiss and German boarders. This region receives a little less sun and are perfect for strong Pinot Noirs or dryer Chardonnays. Burgundy wines tend to be the most earthy and some of the vineyards date back to early monasteries in the region.
Champagne
When it comes to sparkling wines the only name that can come to mind is Champagne. While champagne has become the common term for sparkling wine, only wines that come from this region can aptly be named Champagne. For example, the Touraine region in central France produces a number of fine sparkling wines, but they cannot be called Champagne. While typically white, the term Champagne can also apply to certain sparkling rose wines as well.

Alsace

While you won’t recognize the name Alsace for wine, this is nonetheless one of the top regions for white wine. This is because Alsace wines are famous for varietal naming, where the wine is named not for the region but for the particular grape. These can include Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Muscat. Alsace produces some the world’s finest Rieslings, although the region is also noted for the production of Gewürztraminer.

Loire Valley

Next to Alsace in white wine production is the Loire Valley in central France. This region has 87 controlled appellations. The most popular wines produced near the Loire river are Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc and many fine Cabernets.

Rhone
In the south of France the Rhone valley produces a number of red wines. This is the only region to really compete with the Bordeaux production, although you are more likely to find Syrah and Chateauneuf wines from the Rhone valley.

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