Thanks to a huge diversity of terroirs and an old heritage, French wine has always been considered an international reference.
The vineyard stretches over a large part of the French territory with very different terroirs. Climates, types of soil, used and authorized grapes, winemaking methods give this country one the biggest diversity of wines. France can be divided into 17 wine-producing regions, according to their geographic localization and terroir. Here, more than somewhere else, the notions of terroirs and heritage are essential. Wine and gastronomy take a huge part in the French culture.
France is the biggest wine consumer in the world with more than 30 million hectolitres a year (46 litres per habitant and per year).
In 2012, France was the first worldwide producer and the second biggest vineyard in the world with nearly 2,000,000 acres.
VALLEE DE LA LOIRE
Loire Valley is the third largest French vineyard with about 160,000 acres of vines, including 125,000 acres classified in “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée” (Protected Designation of Origin). Its main characteristic: the vineyard always follows the Loire River or one of its tributaries and many of its vines are situated along the rivers’ slopes.
The main red grapes are Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay and Pinot Noir.
The main white grapes are Chenin, Sauvignon Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne.
Loire Valley region is divided into 4 areas : Pays nantais, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine and Centre-Loire.
Pays nantais :
This region of 32,000 acres is very close to the Atlantic Ocean and has an oceanic, mild and wet climate. It is overwhelmingly represented by the Muscadet AOC.
Its main grape is the Melon (for Muscadet appellation) but we also find Folle Blanche (Gros Plant) and Gamay (Ancenis).
This 50,000 acres vineyard has 24 AOC and an oceanic climate.
main AOC: Anjou, Saumur Champigny, Coteaux du Layon, Coteaux de l’Aubance, Savennières, Rosé d’Anjou, Cabernet d’Anjou.
White: Chenin, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Red: Cabernet Franc, Grolleau and Cabernet Sauvignon.
With its 23 AOC, this region has an oceanic climate strongly influenced by the Loire.
main AOC: Chinon, Bourgueil, St-Nicolas de Bourgueil, Montlouis, Vouvray, Touraine.
Red: Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, Gamay, Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Meunier, Cabernet Sauvignon.
White: Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc.
The climate of this 9 AOC vineyard is continental with very cold winters, warm summers and microclimates. It is also very close to the Loire River (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé).
Main AOC: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon, Quincy, Reuilly.
White: Sauvignon Blanc and Chasselas.
Red: Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Endowed with an exceptional terroir and an old culture, Burgundy produces very complex wines. Its wines made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are often considered as the best in the world.
With 72,000 acres, Burgundy vineyard is divided into a multitude of plots, which makes its understanding very hard.
There are 100 AOC graduated in four levels:
23 “Regional” AOC, 44 “Village” AOC and 33 “Grand Cru” AOC.
Within the “Village" AOC, there are the “1er Cru”: almost 600 denominations according to the terroir.
The climate is continental with very cold winters and warm summers.
The soils are composed of clay and limestone.
Burgundy produces 62% of white wines, 29% of red wines and 8% of sparkling wines (Crémants).
The emblematic grapes are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
- Chardonnay: 48%
- Aligoté: 6%
- Pinot Noir: 34%
- Gamay: 10%
The vineyard is divided into 6 areas:
- Chablis and Yonne
- Côte de Nuits
- Côte de Beaune
- Côte Chalonnaise
Chablis et Yonne :
This 12,000 acres region stretches over about twenty villages in a very rolling landscape and produces only Chardonnay.
These AOC are divided into 4 levels according to their terroirs quality: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.
There are 10 other AOC in Yonne region, apart from Chablis.
Côte de Nuits :
This 7,800 acres vineyard stretches over a 12 miles long strip of slopes.
They mainly produce Pinot Noir but also Chardonnay.
There are 10 Village AOC (+ 1er Cru AOC) and 21 Grand Cru AOC including the most renowned Pinot Noir wines in the world, as well as very great Chardonnay.
Côte de Beaune :
This 13,000 acres vineyard, situated in the south of the Côte de Nuits, is also stretched to a 12 miles long strip of slopes.
It is composed of 20 Village AOC (+ 1er Cru AOC) and 7 Grand Cru AOC including six white wines. They produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The Côte de Beaune is a worldwide reference for its white wines.
Côte Chalonnaise :
This vineyard is situated on a 18 miles long strip, south of the Côte de Beaune.
They mainly produce Pinot Noir but also Chardonnay, and a little bit of Aligoté and Gamay.
There are 5 Village AOC and one 1er Cru.
With its 14,000 acres situated on 21 miles long, this is the most southern vineyard of Burgundy, near Beaujolais.
Chardonnay represents 80% of the production but they also produce Pinot Noir and Gamay.
There are 5 Village AOC (ex : Pouilly Fuissé), but not Regional AOC, 1er Cru and Grand Cru.
This small 620 acres vineyard is situated in the north of Burgundy, close to Champagne.
They produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (a little Gamay and Aligoté). It is the Crémant de Bourgogne kingdom (sparkling wine).