French viticulture dates back to about 600 BC, when Phoenician merchants established the first vineyards on the territory of Provençe. In other parts of present-day France, viticulture and winemaking were initiated by farmers who accompanied the legions during the conquests of the Roman Empire. In later history, France has been the most important wine country in the Old World. In the monasteries there, the foundations were laid for the links between soil and viticulture and for winemaking technology. Many of the classic grape varieties and different types of wine also originate from France. Today, France and Italy are the world's leading wine producers, both in terms of volume and quality. Due to its large territory, which covers different climatic zones, it is possible to produce a variety of wines in France. The wines made from different grape varieties are diverse, and great famous top wines are made in almost every region.
The Alsace wine region is located in northeastern France. The slopes between the Rhine, which flows on the French-German border, and the Vosges Mountains are dominated by light grape varieties, which are used to make white mineral dry, semi-dry and sweet wines. Sparkling wines are also produced. The most important grape varieties are Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc. The only authorized dark grape variety for making red and rosé wines is Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay variety is also widely grown for making sparkling wines - Crémant d'Alsace. The most famous wine villages are Turckheim, Éguisheim, Kayserberg, Riquewihr, Hunawihr, Ribeauvillé, Bergheim, Kintzheim and Barr.
Located in the department of Aquitaine, Bordeaux is one of the most famous wine regions in France. On both banks of the Gironde, red wines considered to be the "king of wines" are made mainly from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc grapes. White dry and dessert Bordeaux wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle grapes are also known. The most important red wine villages are Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Pessac-Léognan. The famous dessert wines are made in the communes of Sauternes and Barsac.
The wine region of Burgundy is located in the territory of the department of the same name in eastern France, with some of the world's best-known vineyards in the valley of the river Saône and the slopes of the gentle mountain range that surrounds it. It produces dignified red wines from Pinot Noir, and white wines from the Chardonnay grape varieties. Chablis, considered the world's most famous white wine, is made in the northern part of the region near the city of Auxerre. On the slopes of the southern Côte d'Or, the best red wines are made in several villages: Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-Saint-Denis, Vosne-Romanée, Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Pommard. The most famous white wine villages are Corton, Beaune, Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet. The Côte Chalonnaise area in the heart of the region is known for its fruity red wines and fresh white wines from the wine villages of Givry, Rully, and Mercurey. The Mâcon area is also famous for its more mineral white wines from Mâcon-Villages, Saint-Véran, and Pouilly-Fuissé. In the southernmost part of the region, in the Beaujolais region, fruity red wines are made from the Gamay grape variety. The best wines come from the famous cru villages: Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Brouilly, Fleurie, et al. Quality sparkling wines, Crémant de Bourgogne, are also produced throughout the region.
Champagne, the northernmost wine region in France in the Champagne-Ardenne department, is home to the world's most famous and dignified sparkling wine, Champagne. It is matured in a bottle on yeast sediment and is mainly made from three grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier. The best vineyards with chalky bottoms in the region are located in the north around the cities of Reims and Épernay and in the south on the slopes of the Côtes du Blanc. The most important villages of Pinot Noir are Ambonnay, Ay, Bouzy, Verzenay and Verzy. The best Chardonnay comes from the vineyards of Avize, Cramant, Oger, and Mesnil-sur-Oger. Champagne is home to world-renowned noble wineries and their well-known brands, to which variety is offered by small growers making terroir-based wines.
Jura is a small wine region located on the slopes of the mountain range of the same name in the east of France, between the Burgundy region and the Swiss border. There are excellent full-bodied and complex white wines manufactured, as well as oxidized Vin Jaune matured for a long time in oak barrels, made from the Savagnin grape, the region's pride. In addition, mineral white wines with a long development potential from Chardonnay are known. The red and rosé wines are made from Trousseau, Poulsard, and Pinot Noir grapes. The sparkling wines of the region, Crémant du Jura, are popular and of high quality. The most famous wine villages are Arbois, Arbois-Pupillin, L'Étoile and Château-Chalon.
Languedoc and Roussillon
On the Mediterranean coast, from the mouth of the Rhône to the Spanish border, is the largest wine-growing region in France, Languedoc-Roussillon. In recent history, it has been known rather as a producer of cheap consumer wine. Today, however, the region has become the fastest growing wine region in the country and in Europe, with an increasing emphasis on quality wine production. They produce strong, full-bodied red wines, often with long development potential (Saint-Chinian, Fitou, Corbières, Pic Saint-Loup), fresh rosé wines, in some villages also dignified white wines (Limoux, Latour-de-France), and very good quality sparkling wines (Crémant de Limoux and Blanquette de Limoux). The Roussillon area is the birthplace of fortified dessert wines, the most famous of which - Rivesaltes, Banyuls, and Maury - are known all over the world.
The valley of Loire, France 's longest river, is a wine region with a very large total area, located in several different departments. It stretches from the upper reaches of the river in the Massif Central mountains to the town of Nantes on the Atlantic coast. The Loire Valley is the country's largest region of manufacturing white and sparkling wines. In the upper reaches of the river, in the Auvergne and Cher regions, simple wines are made from grape varieties, also known in Burgundy and the Rhône Valley. In the middle reaches of the Loire, in the Center-Loire, however, the much more serious quality wines of the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes are made. The most famous villages are Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire (the latter's famous wine is Pouilly-Fumé). In the Touraine area near Tours and the Anjou area near Angers, white dry, sweet, and sparkling wines are made from the Chenin Blanc grape variety. Red and rosé wines from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Grolleau, and other grape varieties are also made there. The best dry and semi-dry wines come from the villages of Vouvray, Chinon, Saumur, Saumur-Champigny and Savennières. The most famous dessert wines are made around Chaume, Bonnezeaux, and Layon. The top nomination for large-scale manufacture of sparkling wines is Crémant de Loire. The westernmost part of the region is called the Pays Nantais, or the area around the city of Nantes. It mainly produces dry, mineral, and fresh white wines - Muscadet and Muscadet Sur Lie. The grape variety is Melon de Bourgogne aka Muscadet (don't confuse it with Muscat grapes).
Provençe in south-eastern France is the cradle of the French wine industry. It was there that the Phoenicians built the first vineyards around 600 BC. Today, Provençe is best known for its fresh, fruity, yet elegant and mineral rosé wines. Strong, dignified red wines, often with fairly long development potential, are also excellent. The most important grape varieties are the dark Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon. The king of white berries is Rollè (Vermentino). The main wine regions are Bandol, Bellet, Palette, Cassis, Baux-de-Provence and Aix-en-Provence. The most famous rosé wines come from the villages of Gassin and Pampelonne, near the town of Saint-Tropez, but also from the municipalities of Frejus, Saint-Victoire, La Londe, Pierrefeu and Notre-Dame des Anges.
The Rhône originates from Lake Geneva (lac Léman). The tributary river Saône flows into the river near the city of Lyon. A wide, calmly flowing river is formed, which flows directly to the south and flows into the Mediterranean Sea. The Rhône Valley wine region is located in the area south of Lyon. The wine region is divided into two: Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône. The vineyards of the Northern Rhône are located mainly on the right bank of the river, on the slopes of a low-lying mountain range in a north-south direction. The only exception is the Hermitage hill on the left bank of the river. The grapes that are grown there are Syrah, which is used to make dignified red wines with long development potential, as well as Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne, which are made into aromatic, full-bodied, and lush white wines. The most famous red wines are made in the Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Cornas, and Saint-Joseph areas, and the best white wines are on the slopes of the villages of Condrieu and Saint-Peray. The vineyards of the Southern Rhône cover a wider area from the town of Montelimar to Avignon and between Pertuis and Nimes. As for the top tier wines, mainly dry and dignified red wines are made, but also the more powerful rosé wines from the varieties of Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault. White wines are made from Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Clairette, Roussanne, Marsanne and Bourboulenc grapes. The main wine villages are Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Tavel and Lirac. The wines of the Luberon, Ventoux and Costières de Nimes from the larger appeals are also very well known.
Sud Ouest, or south-western France, is an area of wine villages scattered over a large area, producing a wide variety of wines: white, rosé, red, as well as excellent dessert wines made from late-harvest grapes. Many wines are made from famous grapes of Bordeaux origin, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec (Côt), Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle. Many grape varieties of local origin such as Duras, Courbu, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Tannat, and others are used in the southern villages. The most famous wine villages are Cahors, Madiran, Jurançon, Irouléguy, Bergerac, Buzet, Gaillac and others. Wines with good value for money are also produced under the Côtes de Gascogne nomination.
AREAS OF STRONG SPIRITS
One of the world's most famous and dignified spirits, cognac, is made around the town of Cognac in the Charentes region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine department. Mainly from the three most important grape varieties: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard, are fermented into a wine, which is distilled twice by the pot still method to obtain about 70% crude cognac. It is then matured in oak barrels, and the mixture of cognacs of different ages is bottled and diluted with water.
The French brand with the longest history is being built in the department of Gascony near the town of Armagnac in southwest France. The four grape varieties - Baco 22A, Folle Blanche, Colombard, and Ugni Blanc - are used to make wine, which, once distilled in a column, gives a 52% crude armagnac. It is then matured in oak barrels, and the mixture of armagnacs of different ages is bottled diluted with water or in bottles with barrel strength. Armagnacs of different vintages are also widely sold.
The Normandy department produces Calvados, the world's most famous apple brandy. About 100 different varieties of apple juice are used, from which the fermented cider is distilled twice in a pot still or once in a column distiller. It is then matured in oak barrels, and the mixture of calvadoses of different ages is bottled diluted with water or in bottles with barrel strength. With Pays d'Auge nomination, pure apple calvados is made; in Domfrontais areas, calvados must contain at least 30% distillate made from pear cider.
Rum is produced in many French overseas territories, especially in the Caribbean - Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana (French Guiana), but also on the island of Réunion in the southern Indian Ocean. The highest quality Rhum Agricole, i.e., the rum squeezed from the leaves of sugar cane, is produced, but also a simpler drink distilled from the residues of sugar production - molasses is made. Unaged Rhum Blanc or white rum is produced, Rhum Blonde or golden rum aged in oak barrels for a few months, as well as mixed rums and vintage rums aged in oak barrels for a longer period.