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French Wine Regions

Learning and Discerning the Wines of France

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There are seven primary wine-producing regions in France. Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire, Provence and the Rhone Valley comprise the dominant French wine regions. These regions, are known for particular grape varietals as dictated by the district's indigenous terroir.

French Wine Growing Regions - An Overview

Bordeaux - With over 10,000 winegrowers and over 60 diverse growing appellations, it is no wonder that Bordeaux is the red wine hound of France. Over 85% of the wine produced in Bordeaux is red, primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. The two prevailing red wine-producing subregions of Bordeaux are aptly referred to as "Left Bank" and "Right Bank." The left bank has soils with higher gravel content that favor Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. French wines from the left bank usually require more time to mature and will age for years. While the right bank lends itself to soil with more clay, preferring the Merlot grapes, with their early-ripening characteristics. The right bank wines are typically better suited for beginning Bordeaux wine drinkers, as they have lower tannin content, more fruit-forward flavor and are more inviting initially. Bordeaux wines can fit a myriad of budgets with prices per bottle ranging from $6 to $1000+, with $20-30 buying a very nice wine, perfect for dinner parties or gift-giving. It should also be noted that the Bordeaux region is also famed for Sauternes, a delightfully sweet white wine that has earned a reputation for being among the world's best for dessert wines.

Burgundy - The French wine-growing region of Burgundy is legendary for its legacy of both red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) and white Burgundy wines (Chardonnay). Burgundy lies on the eastern side of France and covers just over 100 miles. The dominating grape varietals grown in this region are Pinot Noir (making Red Burgundy wines), Chardonnay (making White Burgundy wines) and Gamay (making Beaujolais). Burgundy's moderate climate with warm summers and cold winters allow the high-maintenance Pinot Noir grape to grow particularly well. Red Burgundy wines are often on the pricier side; however, if you are looing for a recommended producer start with Louis Jadot - notable for producing consistent, quality Burgundies vintage after vintage. White Burgundy is a Chardonnay Lover's delight, with flavors of peaches and honey, crisp acidity and complex flavors that pair particularly well with seafood. Chablis are a unique forms of Chardonnay as they are not aged in oak, but instead winemakers ferment them in stainless steel, making a lighter-bodied white wine. As for Beaujolais - this is certainly a fun, affordable and very approachable red wine. Perfect for those beginning their red wine adventures, with lots of fruit-flavor, low tannins and general palate appeal. You can pick up a Beaujolais for $8 to $20. These are terrific warm weather wines.

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