France

France is one of the oldest wine producing regions of Europe. It also produces the most wine by value in the world (although Italy rivals it by volume and Spain has more land under cultivation for wine grapes). Bordeaux wine, Bourgogne wine and Champagne are important agricultural products.

Except for some exports from Bordeaux, until about 1850 most wine in France was consumed locally. People in Paris drank wine from the local vineyards, people in Bordeaux drank Bordeaux, those in Bourgogne drank Bourgogne, and so on throughout the country. The spread of railroads and the improvement of roads reduced the cost of transportation, but even until after World War II, the typical French person drank local wine and, although proud of France`s reputation for making some of the world`s outstanding wines, knew relatively little about them.

The Appellation System



The increase in trade and export led to increases in wine fraud, whereby inferior wines were labeled as superior wines, or inferior wines were blended with the wines of well-known producers. A number of laws to fight cheating were passed in 1935. They established the Appellation d`Origine Contrôlée system, which is governed by a powerful oversight board (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine - INAO). Consequently, France has one of the oldest appellation systems for wine in the world, and strictest laws concerning winemaking and production. Many other European systems are modelled on it. With European Union wine laws being modelled on those of the French, this trend is likely to continue with further EU expansion.

French law divides wine into four categories, with two falling under the European Union`s Table Wine category and two falling under the EU`s Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR) designation. The categories are:

Table wine:
* Vin de table - Carries with it only the producer and the designation that it`s from France.
* Vin de pays - Carries with it a specific region within France (ex. Vin de Pays d`Oc)

QWPSR:
* Appelation Contrôlée (AC) - A locale within a region (ex. Côte de Beaune)
* Appelation d`Origine Contrôlée (AOC) - Indicates a specific vineyard (ex. Château Margaux)

France`s best-known regional appellation system was developed in 1855, in preparation for the Great International Exposition in Paris. At the request of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Brokers Attached to the Bordeaux Market identified the Grands Crus (Great Growths) du Medoc and organized them into five categories. The rankings were based entirely on recent prices.

White wines in Bordeaux were also ranked. One (present-day Château d`Yquem) was uniquely ranked above all others in its own category, that of Premier Cru Superieur (Superior First Growth). There were 11 First Growths and 12 Second Growth white wines. These, too, were established entirely on the basis of prices in 1855.

Within two years after the classification system was published, wine sales by the classified producers increased over 250 percent. With the passage of time, many of the châteaux acquired additional vineyards far away, some sold part of their vineyards, some let their vineyards deteriorate, and many other changes occurred.

Wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. argues that the classification has long created an injustice to consumers because it has caused mediocre wines to be sold for too much and good wine to be sold for too little. He says that the archaic rankings ``should be regarded by both the wine connoiseur and the novice as informational items of historical significance only.``

Bourgogne`s classification system was created in 1861 for the Paris World`s Fair in 1862. It has 110 appellations in an area only one-fifth the size of Bordeaux. Complicating the system is the fact that many villages have hyphenated their names to include that of their best vineyard. This promotes sales but tends to confuse consumers.

Trivia



  • A common Bordelais saying is:``The best vintage is the vintage we have to sell.``

  • The wine classification system of the Douro region of Portugal was developed nearly two hundred years before that of France.

  • There are 450 different wine appellations in France, a fact that tends to confuse consumers.

  • Only 15% of all French wines enjoy the marketing benefits of AOC designations.

  • To replace any vines, growers in Saint-Emilion need to obtain approval from eight different agencies. Heavy bureaucracy tends to hamper innovation while increasing the cost of production and reducing competitiveness.

  • The use of dried cow’s blood to clarify wine is no longer permitted.


This article is based entirely or in part on the France wikipedia article and is licenced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence.


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In this category

Absente 55

[read on...]


£9.95  

A B V: 55% Vintage: non-vintag Color: unspecifie Country: France Code: 57281

Anjou Blanc, Sous la Tonnelle 2008

'Sous la Tonnelle' means 'Below the Rainbow' an apt 'Cuvee'name. Blended 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay, the qualities and characters of these two grapes compliment one another perfectly. Big lively fruit with a healthy mixture of white peaches, apricots, pears and mango, and delicious crispness to compliment. [read on...]


£4.60  

A B V: 12.5% Vintage: 2008 Color: white Country: France Region: Loire-Atlantique Code: 72094

Ardeche Sauvignon Chardonnay VDP 3L Box

Harvested Early and at the cool time of the day to preserve freshness and aroma. [read on...]


£20.95  

A B V: 13% Vintage: non-vintag Color: unspecifie Country: France Region: Ardeche Code: 63701

Beaujolais Village Rouge 2012 Nugues

The 45 year old Gamay vines from which this easy drinking Beaujolais has been produced are surrounded by the Grand /Cru of Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin-a-Vent, with the bonus of the superior Villages appellation. The colour is typical purple robe of Gamay, with aaromas of blackcurrant and strawberry and harmonious flavour wih velvety tannins and a whisper of minerality and hint of spice. [read on...]


£10.85  

A B V: 12.5% Vintage: 2012 Color: red Country: France Region: Rhone Code: 80157

Beaujolais Village Rouge 2014 Moliere

The Beaujolais Villages Appellation covers 38 specific superior communes and represents a signifcant step up from the more prolific plain Beaujolais with a more serious style. This vintage shows red cherries, soft red fruits and a touch of banana. [read on...]


£9.75  

A B V: 12.5% Vintage: 2014 Color: red Country: France Code: 82624

Beaujolais-Villages Blanc 2010 Nugues

This clasasic white Chardonnay is unoaked. It was left on its 'lees' for 2-3 months to add complexity to its flavour and early bottling ensured that its delicious fresh, youthful fruit was conserved. Intense complex aromas of white and yellow fruits (peaches) follow onto the palate to add to the citrus and white flowers. Full, round and rich, it really is a quality match for fine Burgundy. [read on...]


£9.99  

A B V: 13% Vintage: 2010 Color: red Country: France Code: 76595

Beaune Les Greves 1er Crû 2011

As the saying goes 'all roads lead to Rome but the finest pass through Beaune'! This historic and beautiful town is regarded as the capital of Burgundy and very worthwhile a detour to visit. Their wines are distinguished, complex, intriguing, beguiling and immensely pleasing. This wine from the top 'Les Greves 1er Cru' vineyards encompasses all the very best qualities and expresses the very finest characteristics. The bouquet has nuances of black cherries and blackcurrants and the flavour is full yet distinguished and refined with fine silky tannins. [read on...]


£30.35  

A B V: 13% Vintage: 2011 Color: red Country: France Code: 80130

Beaune-Cent-Vignes,1er Cru 1992 Ch.de Meursault

The vines used to produce this wine are grown oin the top edge of the favoured Feves. It has a bouquet of cooked fruits and plums with spicy undertones and a delicious rich well-rounded mature flavour with the remotest hint of oak. For current drinking. [read on...]


£12.20  

Vintage: 1992 Color: unspecifie Country: France Region: Beaune Code: 41712

Blanquette Methode Ancestrale AOC

Unique sweet hand picked sparkler, 8% alcohol! Produced from Mauzac grapes grown on 40YO vines-a grape unique to Limoux in SW France. Characteristically high in acidity which is ideal for sparkling wines & balances the sweetness of this wine perfectly. Unlike champagne & sparkling wines made by the champagne method this wine has had only one fermentation in bottle using indigenous natural wild yeast & being bottled by the third moon in March to produce the bubbles (prise de mousse). The fermentation in the bottle is arrested naturally leaving a truly delicious natural sweetness. Its robe is pale gold with a very fine bubble. The nose has an expressive aromatic range of stewed fruits, quince with a hint of soft spices & the taste is a pleasantly surprising blend of delicious grapy sweetness perfectly balanced with crisp acidity & notes of green apple. Fine match with dessert and absolutely irresustable with cakes. tart aux pommes and chocolate. [read on...]


£7.95  

A B V: 8% Vintage: non-vintag Color: white Country: France Code: 75100

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