Monasteries had the resources, security, and motivation to produce a steady supply of wine both for celebrating mass and generating income. During this time, the best vineyards were owned by the monasteries and their wine was considered to be superior. Over time the nobility developed extensive vineyards. However, the French Revolution led to the confiscation of many of the vineyards owned by the Church and others. The advance of French wine industry stopped abruptly as first Mildew and then Phylloxera spread throughout the country, indeed across all of Europe, leaving vineyards desolate.
Following this became an economic downturn in Europe followed by two world wars and French wine industry didnt fully recover for decades. Meanwhile competition had arrived and threatened the treasured French brands such as Champagne and Bordeaux. This resulted in the establishing of the Appellation dOrigine Controlee to protect French interests in 1935. Large investments, the economic upturn following World War 2 and a new generation of Vignerons yielded results in the 1970s and the following decades, creating the modern French wines we know today. GRAPE VARIETIES & TERROIR:-
France is the source of many grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Syrah) that are now planted throughout the world, as well as several wine-making practices and styles of wine that are copied and imitated in other producing countries. Although some producers have benefited in recent years from rising prices and increased demand for some of the prestige wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux, the French wine industry as a whole has suffered from a decline in domestic consumption as well as growing competition from both the New World and other European countries.
All common styles of wine ” red, rose, white, dry, semi-sweet, sweet, sparkling and fortified ” are produced in France. In most of these styles, the French production ranges from cheap and simple versions to some of the worlds most famous and expensive examples. An exception is French fortified wines, which tend to be relatively unknown outside France. Numerous grape varieties are cultivated in France, including both internationally well-known and obscure local varieties. In fact, most of the so-called international varieties are of French origin, or became known and spread because of their cultivation in France.
Since French appellation rules generally restrict wines from each region, district or appellation to a small number of allowed grape varieties, there are in principle no varieties that are commonly planted throughout all of France. Most varieties of grape are primarily associated with a certain region, such as Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux and Syrah in Rhone, although there are some varieties that are found in two or more regions, such as Chardonnay in Bourgogne and Champagne, and Sauvignon Blanc in Loire and Bordeaux. As an example of the rules, although climatic conditions would appear to be favourable, no Cabernet.
Sauvignon wines are produced in Rhone, Riesling wines in Loire, or Chardonnay wines in Bordeaux. If such wines were produced, they would have to be declassified to VIN de Pays or French table wine. They would not be allowed to display any appellation name or even region of origin. Traditionally, many French wines have been blended from several grape varieties. Varietal white wines have been, and are still, more common than varietal red wines. In many respects, French wines have more of a regional than a national identity, as evidenced by different grape varieties, production methods and different classification systems in the various regions.
Quality levels and prices vary enormously, and some wines are made for immediate consumption while other are meant for long-time cellaring. If there is one thing that most French wines have in common, it is that most styles have developed as wines meant to accompany food, be it a quick baguette, a simple bistro meal, or a full-fledged multi-course menu. Since the French tradition is to serve wine with food, wines have seldom been developed or styled as bar wines for drinking on their own, or to impress in tastings when young. TERROIR:
The concept of Terroir, which refers to the unique combination of natural factors associated with any particular vineyard, is important to French vignerons. It includes such factors as soil, underlying rock, altitude, slope of hill or terrain, orientation toward the sun, and microclimate (typical rain, winds, humidity, temperature variations, etc. ). Even in the same area, no two vineyards have exactly the same terroir, thus being the base of the Appellation dOrigine controlee (AOC) system that has been model for appellation and wine laws across the globe.
In other words: when the same varietal is planted in different regions, it can produce wines that are significantly different from each other. In France the concept of terroir manifests itself most extremely in the Burgundy region. The amount of influence and the scope that falls under the description of terroir has been a controversial topic in the wine industry. WINE REGIONS:- The recognized wine producing areas in France are regulated by the Institut National des Appellations dOrigine INAO in acronym.
Every appellation in France is defined by INAO, in regards to the individual regions particular wine character. If a wine fails to meet the INAOs strict criteria it is declassified into a lower appellation or even into VIN de Pays or Vin de Table. With the amount of appellations in France too numerous to mention here, they are easily defined into one of the main wine producing regions listed below. 1. ALSACE: Alsace is primarily a white-wine region, though some red rose, sparkling and sweet wines are also produced. It is situated in eastern France on the river Rhine and borders Germany, a country with which it shares many grape varieties as well as a long tradition of varietal labelling.
Wines from Alsace: More than 90% of the wines in Alsace are white. Riesling and Gewurzt are among the best white wines in France. Wine makers raise them in a style you cant find anywhere else but in a wine from Alsace. The most important wines in Alsace are: ¢ Riesling (23% of Alsace wines) ¢ Gewurztraminer (18%) ¢ Pinot Blanc (20%) ¢ Tokay Pinot Gris (13%) ¢ Sylvaner (12%) ¢ Cremant dAlsace (a sparkling wine) Other wines from Alsace are: Vendanges Tardives (late harvest), Edelzwicker, Muscat, Pinot Noir, etc. 2. BORDEAUX: Bordeaux is probably the most well-know wine region in France.
Bordeaux counts for one third of the good quality French wine (AOC, crus bourgeois, crus classes). The wines are so good there that a Bordeaux ranking is needed to classify the best of the best. Some of them are universal: Margaux, Yquem, Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Haut Brion and all the others. Bordeaux has about 7,000 chateaux! Bordeaux wine and food Red Bordeaux is excellent with beef, lamb, grilled veal, game such as pheasant, and poultry such as grilled turkey. Dry whites are perfect in an aperitif and go very well with sea-food and chicken. Sweet wines are generally served with a desert.
Connoisseurs appreciate the Sauternes as an aperitif or with foie gras. Medoc wine region: Medoc Haut Medoc Margaux Saint Estephe Pauillac Saint Julien Listrac Moulis Cotes wine region: Saint Emilion Cotes de Castillon Cotes de Francs Pomerol Fronsac Cotes de Bourg . 3. BURGUNDY: Burgundy or Bourgogne in eastern France is a region where red and white wines are equally important. Probably more terroir-conscious than any other region, Burgundy is divided into the largest number of appellations of any French region. The top wines from Burgundys heartland in Cote dOr command high prices.
The Burgundy region is divided in four main parts: ¢ The Cote de Nuits (from Marsannay-La-Cote down to Nuits-Saint-Georges) ¢ The Cote de Beaune (from north of Beaune to Santenay) ¢ The Cote Chalonnaise ¢ The Maconnais Wines in burgundy: ¢ Chablis ¢ Cote de Nuits: Cote de Nuits Gevrey Chamber tin Clos Vougeot Vosne Romanee Nuits Saint Georges ¢ Cote de Beaune: Cote de Beaune Corton Pommard Volnay Meursault Chassagne Montrachet ¢ Cote Chalonnaise and Macon: Givry Pouilly Fuisse Rully Macon Mercurey 4. CHAMPAGNE: Champagne is one of the most well known wines in the world. Champagne is definitely a festive wine.
The champagne region spreads in the North East of France, around the cities of Reims and Epernay. There are basically 3 different areas in the Champagne wine region: Montagne de Reims Cote des Blancs Marne Valley A Champagne bottle should mature in a cellar for one to two years. There are several different kinds of Champagne according to your taste: Doux (means sweet), 4% and more of sugar Demi-sec (fairly sweet), 2. 5 to 5% of sugar Sec (sweet/dry), 1. 75 to 2. 5% of sugar Extra sec (medium dry), 1. 5 to 2% of sugar Brut (dry), 0. 5 to 1. 5% of sugar, the most common Champagne these days Extra brut (very dry), 0 to 0.
5% of sugar 5. COTES DU RHONE: Cotes du Rhone generic wines go well with every day cooking, dishes based on chicken and not to strong cheeses. Full body red wines are perfect with roasted red meat and game. Full body white wines are good companion with grilled fish and even foie gras. Cotes du Rhone is probably the most diverse wine region in France. From the very different full-body red wines of Cote Rotie in the north and Chateauneuf du Pape in the south to the exquisite white wine of Condrieu and Chateau Grillet and the fruity red wines of Crozes Hermitage and of the southern Rhone region.
6. LANGUEDOC ROUSSILLON: Long history of wine making and favourable natural and climatic conditions explain why wine is so important in Languedoc Roussillon. Dramatic have been made other the years to reduce the production and to improve the quality of the wine. Languedoc-Roussillon region produces mainly red wines, a good share is Vin de Table but most of it is Vin de Pays. They are perfect as every day wines. AOC wines are very interesting to follow as the techniques, grape varieties and vineyards selected tend to improve the quality of the wine.
Languedoc-Roussillon, by far the largest region in terms of vineyard surface, and the region in which much of Frances cheap bulk wines have been produced. While still the source of much of Frances and Europes overproduction, the so-called wine lake, Languedoc-Roussillon is also the home of some of Frances most innovative producers. They try to combine traditional French wine and international styles and do not hesitate to take lessons from the New World. WINE AND FOOD: Red wine: Grilled red meat Pate, sausages and salami Roasted turkey Feathered game Rose: Salad Onion tart Omelet as an aperitif.
White wine: Local sea food products. 7. LOIRE VALLEY: The Loire Valley is famous for its white wines. None of them use Chardonnay as a main grape variety. Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon are widely used. About 75% of the production is made of white wine. Although Loire is a land of white wine, some red wines are very interesting. They are fruity and pleasant. Loire wines go very well with any dish based on pork, from pate to roast, ham and chicken, from fish to sea-food, from eel to trout. They are just palatable with all the summer cooking. Muscadet is excellent with oysters, the Sancerre with goat-cheese. WINES OF LOIRE VALLEY:
West side of the Loire Valley (around Nantes): Muscadet Anjou Saumur: Anjou Coteaux du Layon Saumur Touraine: Touraine Bourgueil Chinon Vouvray East side of the Loire Valley: Pouilly Fume Sancerre 8. PROVENCE: Provence is known for its fresh and fruity rose wine. Outside of the generic Cotes de Provence appellation, rose wines are also excellent in Coteaux dAix or in Coteaux Varois. Wine lovers can also discover the typical terroirs of Bandol, Palette, Bellet and Cassis to taste full body red wines and aromatic white wines. Detailled information about wines from Provence: Cotes de Provence, Bandol , Bellet .
WINE AND FOOD: Rose de Provence is the perfect summer wine. The wine is fresh and fruity. Rose is a good companion to any meal that has sun in its roots and specially the food coming from the Mediterranean Sea and Provence. We recommend rose with: Salad (such as Salade nicoise) as an aperitif with typical food from Provence (Bouillabaisse, Aioli, Ratatouille, etc) Full body red wines from Provence should match with game and roasted red meat. White wines are perfect with local seafood products. 9. CORSICA: Corsica island, off the French South coast, is affectionately called Lile de beaute (The beautiful island).
Of course, the wines produced on the island are generally delicious. Corsica offers subtle rose and dry white wines. Corsican wines must be drunk young, fresh, as aperitif or to accompany a light meal. The best Corsican wines come from the coast. The main wines of Corsica are: Patrimonio: The most well known Corsican wine. Read more about Patrimonio Ajaccio: One of the highest terroir in France. 10. SOUTH WEST FRANCE: Between the Bordeaux region and the Pyrenees, the South-West is a traditional wine region, probably even oldest than its neighbour.
Wines from the South-West have often been confused with Bordeaux wines. But one must not conclude that those wines are of a lower quality. Virgil and Horatius have praised wines from South West high and sometimes low! Nowadays wines from South West are of excellent quality for the value and should be recommended because of their unique personality based on local history and traditions. Wines from South West of France are diverse. The most important are: Red wine: Bergerac Buzet Cahors Gaillac Madiran Dry white wine: Bergerac Jurancon Sweet white wine: Gaillac Jurancon Monbazillac
For most of the people in France, South West means good food! Wines and food: Because the wines are so diverse in South West of France, the food that will match these wines will be diverse as well. Red wines are perfect with local food such as cassoulet or roasted duck. Dry white wines are very good with river fish (such as trout or salmon) or with white meat. Sweet white wines match well with Foie gras or as an aperitif. TRENDS:- France has traditionally been the largest consumer of its own wines. However, wine consumption has been dropping in France for 40 years.
During the decade of the 1990s, per capita consumption dropped by nearly 20 percent. Therefore, French wine producers must rely increasingly on foreign markets. However, consumption has also been dropping in other potential markets such as Italy, Spain and Portugal. The result has been a continuing wine glut, often called the wine lake. This has led to the distillation of wine into industrial alcohol as well as a government program to pay farmers to pull up their grape vines through vine pull schemes. A large part of this glut is caused by the re-emergence of Languedoc wine.
Immune from these problems has been the market for Champagne as well as the market for the expensive ranked or classified wines. However, these constitute only about five percent of French production.
French regulations in 1979 created simple rules for the then-new category of VIN de pays. The Languedoc-Roussillon region has taken advantage of its ability to market varietal wines. BIBLIOGRAPHY:- 1. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/French_wine 2. http://www. terroir-france. com/wine/regions. htm 3. http://www. avex-wines. com/avexwinesimageslabelpicturesbottlephotos. html 4. http://www. fotosearch. com/results.