Introduction

By Paul Caputo

France is often held up as the cradle of premium wine making, the founder of the modern wine scene and certainly a reference point for the major grapes on the international market such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. A rich, modern history of premium wine making has guaranteed that France is firmly planted in consumer consciousness all over the world for producing some of the greatest wines in the world.

France is also credited with the invention of the appellation system, a concept designed to indicate classification through an increasingly specific reference to the origin of the grapes used to produce the wine. Appellation d’Origine Controlle, or AOC can be found on the label of most French wines.

Champagne, the world’s most famous sparkling wine, is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and another red skinned variety, Pinot Meunier and is situated ninety minutes south east of Paris. The cool climate here ensures the grapes carry high levels of acidity and crisp fruit flavours, characteristics that make for good Champagne.

Regions of France

Alsace

Alsace is known for stunning white wines from Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer. There is also some sparkling wines made as well as a small amount of red wine.

Read more ▸ 1 appellation 4 producers 2 wines

Bordeaux

Extending for approximately ninety kilometres around the southwestern French city of Bordeaux, the wine region of the same name is perhaps the world’s most renowned and revered. Principally a region of reds, the traditional Bordeaux blend is a much imitated, rarely matched assemblage of predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

Read more ▸ 28 appellations 247 producers 155 wines

Burgundy

For many, Burgundy is the most fascinating wine region on earth and offers a lifetime of study. White wines from Chardonnay and reds from Pinot Noir is what to expect, but quality ranges from rubbish to utterly sublime.

Read more ▸ 6 sub-zones 63 appellations 157 producers 165 wines

Champagne

The chilly soils and relatively cool climate of Champagne provides the backdrop for the world’s benchmark expression of traditional method sparkling wine.

Read more ▸ 1 appellation 25 producers 14 wines