France

France has gone on a roller coaster ride. A booming industry was decimated by mildew and phylloxera in the second half of the 19th century, then two World Wars in the 20th century. Thirst won in the end, and, France is now the World’s #2 wine producer by volume.

Without doubt the two greatest drivers of the French wine industry have been the concept of Terroir and the establishment of the Appellation d’origine contrôlée.

Combined these have defined a philosophical approach to growing and making wine and enforced strict controls of grape varieties that can be planted in each region and winemaking practices that can be employed.

Frances has come through with flying colours, successive generations have been better trained, spent time in the New World exposing them to different techniques for growing vines and making wine, and, have been able to push the boundaries to achieve excellence.

First Records of Wine Production – Go back millennia to the 6th century BC. The Greeks kicked things off with the Romans ramping things up. Those Romans got around and took their vines and wines with them! Over time the wealth of the Monastries took over much of the production. Nobility took their turn until the guillotine fell!

Founding Figures – In ‘recent times’, technical advancement in the industry were driven by Minister of the Interior, Jean-Antoine Chaptal following the French revolution, work done by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, and, the Emperor Napoleon III commissioning of the 1855 classification of Bordeaux.

Area Planted – with around 630,000 hectares of vines France produces 17% of the World’s wine

Established Regions – When we think French wine, the regions that immediately come to mind are Champagne with its fizz, Bordeaux’s Cabernet blends and Sauternes, Burgundy’s Pinot and Chardonnay, the Rhône Valley’s Shiraz, Grenache, Marsanne & Roussane, and, Alsatian Riesling.

Most Common Varieties

White – From greatest area planted down the top red varieties are Ugni Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, Sémillon, Chennin Blanc, Colombard, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, and, Riesling.

Red – The list doesn’t surprise the order they come in does from greatest area planted down the top red varieties are Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Cinsaut, Pinot Meunier and Mourvèdre.

Up and Coming Regions – In recent times we’ve seen the Rosé of Provence, the hidden gems from the Languedoc, Jura and Loire Valley increasing in popularity.

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