No country is more intimately linked with fine wine than France. You know the names. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, Champagne, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc. The wines of France are some of the most prestigious in the world.
The recorded history of French wine dates back to the 6th century BC. Dozens of wine styles, winemaking processes and grape varieties originated in France and are now copied and grown around the world.
As the world’s largest wine producer, France produces wines in the high end, expensive category, as well as simpler, modestly priced wines that never even go beyond the country’s borders.
Very important to French winemakers is the concept of Terroir. Terroir refers to the unique natural environment of each vineyard, including the soil, underlying rock, altitude, slope of land or type of terrain, orientation to the sun, and specific climate conditions.
The Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée system defines which grapes and winemaking practices are approved in each geographically defined appellation. An appellation can range from an entire region right down to a specific vineyard. The recognized wine producing regions of France as regulated by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) are Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Corsica, Jura, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Provence, Rhone, Savoy, and South West France.
Here are a few of our favorite wines of France, ranging from $11.95 to $31.99:
2009 M. Chapoutier Domaine de Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon Villages les Vignes de la Haut ROUGE
From the winemaker: The family motto "Fac et Spera” – do and hope – says it all. Two words that sum up all the patience and daring that this art demands: patience in relation to nature which presides; daring for the winemaker, who observes, chooses and assists. The wine will be the faithful expression of this alchemy.
2007 Chateau Lalande de Gravet Saint Emilion Grand Cru
From the winemaker: This delicious second label from Chateau Haut Gravet is made from young vines from their Grand Cru property. This wine delights with flavors of dried berry, cocoa and plum. A soft, supple blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
2010 Chateau du Cleray-Sauvion Sancerre
2009 Chateau de Beaucastel Coudoulet Cotes du Rhone
From Robert Parker: The 2009 Cotes du Rhone Coudoulet red represents the essence of Provence in its notes of ground pepper, new saddle leather, lavender, kirsch, garrigue, and abundant red and black fruits. This complex, evolved, luscious red begs for a bloody grilled steak. With a creamy, medium to full-bodied texture, this gorgeous, complex, evolved wine should be enjoyed over the next 7-8 years.-
2010 Vincent Pouilly Fuisse Propriete Marie-Antoinette Vincent
From the winemaker: This Pouilly-Fuisse is grown in several parcels belonging to the Vincent family (Marie-Antoinette Vincent is Jean-Jacques' mother). Those situated in Vergisson give a refreshing acidity and mineral undertone while the Fuisse vineyards provide body and generous fruit. The wine is vinified in small oak barrels by Jean-Jacques Vincent, who blends the different origins to make a delicious, well-balanced Pouilly-Fuisse. It has a ripe, mineral-toned aroma, very clean and dry, with a fresh finish.