French Wine and Grape Varieties

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 at 12:00 am

french wineMost people, when they think of wine, the immediately associate it with France. This is because the country of France has had a long-standing and remarkable heritage as the premier place of all wine-producing countries. It may be quite fascinating to know the history of France as an established wine producer.

Its gold standard, which has remained until today, has become its trademark as a country. The elements of history, experience in wine as well as the terroir have all contributed in the role of building the elite standing of France as a classic producer of wines.

The early vineyards that were planted and grown in France can be credited to the Greeks as well as the Romans. During the 5th century, the church was the one who kept most of the vine and the basic producers of wines which was used for the sacrament of Communion. After that, across the centuries, the vineyards of France slowly but surely developed and it was eventually used in trade with other countries.

However, during the 1800s, there were many vineyards which were inflicted with a disease which involved a small insect that destroyed the roots of the vines. This eventually weakened the flourishing wine production of the country. After the economy suffered under the two world wars, the 1900s ushered in the Appellation d’Origine Controlee or the A.O.C. Which served as the organization which standardized wine.

The regulation and laws that were passed by this organization became the benchmark of quality in growing grapes in the different regions. This was established in order to safeguard the quality of the different wines that the country produced. The A.O.C. was established for getting back the reputation of the country in making wine as well as ensuring that the protocol for creating wine was consistently followed in order to maintain the superior quality of French wine.

As a profession and an art, French winemakers have been at this for centuries already. It is believed that the country of France has established about 150,000 grape growers which is essentially responsible for the production of 1.5 billion gallons of wine per year. The prominent wine-growing regions of France are Alsace, Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Burgundy, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and the Rhone Valley. There are other big producers which are scattered across the country

Because of the exceptional quality of grapes and wine in France, the grape varietals that are available today all originate from France. The French wine is fundamentally the benchmark by which all other types of wine are measured. One example of this is a Ukranian wine which is Sovetskoye Shampanskoye will always be compared to a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux. In France, the wines are commonly named after the vineyard region wherein it was produced.

The more popular white grape varietals of French wine are Pinot Blanc, White Burgundy, Chardonnay, Muscadet, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Chenin Blanc. While the more popular red grape varietals include Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Grenache and Mourvèdre.