Discover the culture of wine in France

Wine tour of the French regions

Visit of Paris during a wine tour of the french regions

Have you ever dreamt of a wine tour of the French regions

You probably already know the greatest wine-making regions in France, but are you sure to know all of them? Wine Passport invites you to discover all of these and their special features. Between local terroir and grapes varietals, the rare diversity of the French vineyards is now known worldwide and has made its history. From Alsace to Languedoc, we will try to give you their essential details…

Alsace and the White wine domination

Very famous for white wines, this region has some great terroirs. Its major planted grapes’ varietals are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Pinot Blanc. Located in the north east of the country, its topography is incredibly rough and makes the harvest difficult for machines. Most of the time grapes are hand harvested. Producers also make a little but delicious red and rosé wine with Pinot Noir. The presence of 51 “Grand Cru” is quite impressive for such a small wine-cultivating region. You should taste its late-harvested wines and their sparkling wines which are gaining quality each year. Strasbourg and Colmar are typical cities of North Est, with German inspiration in both architecture and gastronomy. The colors decorate the city with harmony and Colmar, contrary to most of bias, is the second most sunny city of France. Strasbourg is seducing with its little district “La petite France” and its tremendous Cathedral, which was the highest monument of the world for a long time. 

Vineyard of Alsace during a wine tour of the french regions
Colmar during a wine tour of the french regions

Beaujolais, a revolution on its way

For a long time, Beaujolais had been disregarded by many, mainly because of Beaujolais nouveau that destroyed the reputation of the great wines it produced. Nowadays, some great producers are acting to regain the reputation the region had once. A great harmony of nature, architecture, vineyards and culture is guaranteed. With its 10 crus:  Juliénas, Saint-Amour, Chénas, Moulin-à-vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly and Brouilly, mostly planted with Gamay and Chardonnay grapes, the region is now on the greatest wine menus of the Michelin restaurants. You should visit Beaujolais because its landscapes are incredible and some villages have to be visited such as Oingt, Beaujeu and Bagnols, mostly known for its golden stones.

Saint Emilion during a wine tour of the french regions
cité of Wine in Bordeaux during a Wine tour of the French regions

Bordeaux, world capital of wine

This is probably the most international appellation of France for its wines. It is the greatest region of the country in terms of hectares. Its two rivers, the Gironde and the Dordogne cross the famous appellations of Medoc, Libournais, Graves, Entre-deux-mers and Blayais. The classification of 1855 of the Medoc producers by the order of Napoleon the 3rd helped the region to be world famous. Château Haut-Brion, Château Margaux, Lafite-Rothschild, Mouton-Rothschild are the most famous ones but there are plenty of other wine-makers who deserve to be known by you! Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon but also Sauvignon blanc, Muscadelle, Malbec and Petit Verdot are the grape varieties mainly used in the region. Bordeaux is also known for its “Cité du Vin”, the neighboring “Dune du Pilat” and other great activities. Ready to try?

Burgundy: kingdom of Pinot Noir

Burgundy… Birthplace of numerous wines once sold to the different monarchies of Europe, which benefited a lot to the region. It is also well known for its two grapes: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Now cultivated in worldwide, these represent 51% and 39.5% respectively. Gamay and Aligoté are less known in the region but can be synonym of good surprises. You will be astonished to hear that Burgundy’s vineyards constitute only 3% of the French vineyards. Chablis, Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune and Côte Chalonnaise          are the different sub-regions while Beaune and Dijon are arguing for the title of “capital” of the Côte d’Or. Gastronomy also participates to make the region famous with the bourguignon beef and the snails, amongst others. Don’t be reluctant if you haven’t tasted yet, it is delicious! Between Macon and Auxerre, you will find a lot of little villages crossed by the road of the Grand Crus.

Hotel Dieu from Beaune during a wine tour of the french regions
Dijon during a wine tour of the french regions

Champagne, the eternal sparkling

Ô, Champagne, you, sparkling wines which have been longing for a long time… Reputation of this region is not to be made, its history has built it. The production method for champagne is very particular and is used in more and more parts of the world. Competed by many other sparkling wine-makers around the world, champagne manages to stay ahead of the fierce competition. Great merchants are installed in the region but there are also many interesting independent champagne producers that should be tasted. Even though Epernay has a strong position, Champagne’s capital is still Reims; probably due to its history that you have to discover with the cathedral. In fact, the cathedral saw about 33 kings of France crowned. And this is why we propose you to go for a day in Champagne to discover its wines and gastronomy from Paris!

Tasting of Jura during a wine tour of the french regions

Jura and the yellow wine

The yellow wine of Jura is not very famous in the world, but it clearly should be. The Jura is also typical for the native grape variety the region still harvests. The character of its 3 colors’ wines are very original and inimitable. Plus, the wine-makers are very friendly and will be very happy to see you interested in this mysterious region. If you are aware of good cheeses in France, you probably know the Comté! It is produced in the same region. Moreover, cities such as Dole are great to visit with their medieval center.

Languedoc Roussillon, generous and revolutionized

Languedoc and Roussillon are two separated regions but are often associated when you talk about wine-making regions. They were seen as a low-quality bulk wine producers for a long time. Somehow, they now have a greater reputation with high-standing wines. The grape varieties are abundant as the region is known as the new laboratory of France. Most of its are red grape varieties but you can find some great white wines. Some beautiful villages hidden in the great landscapes of the two regions will seduce you for sure! Montpellier is the capital of these regions but you should visit some places such as the “Cité de Carcassonne”, incredible medieval village, the old center of Uzès, the Arena and the “Squared house” of Nîmes.

Loire Valley, between castles and wine traditions

The vineyards of this region extend on the banks of the Loire river. This is the second greatest French producer of sparkling wines with Vouvray and Saumur which are high quality. You will also find some great sweet wines, which could be surprising for this northern region. Its castles are also sumptuous and you should visit some, because there are hundreds. The castles of Chenonceau, Chambord, Cheverny and the gardens of Villandry’s castle has outlined the landscape of the Valley. The architecture of the Renaissance era is incredible and majestic. The freshness and character of its Cabernet based wines and the fineness of its Pinot Noir are world famous. In addition, the lightness and fruit character of the white wines is recognized. The Loire also produces some rosés. We can say that this is a very complete region with every type of wines and some great landscapes to explore. Why don’t you try it for a day?

Castle and vineyard of Chinon during a wine tour of the french regions
Castle of Chenonceau during a wine tour of the french regions

Provence and the sweet perfume of rosé

Provence is world-known for its wine of this typical rose color. The 3 appellations côtes-de-provence, coteaux-d’aix-en-provence and coteaux-varois-en-provence are the main reasons of this reputation. The number of rosé varieties give you a large choice for summer as it is definitely the best period to drink it, with barbecue for example. Moreover, you will find some incredible landscapes and cute villages with a clear identity of the region. The lavender offers you incredible colors during the summer and very pleasant smells. You should not miss the red wines which are, for some, very impressive like the ones in Bandol. Some white wines with great floral aromas can be very interesting too. A region that you should visit during spring or summer. You should also take the time to visit the different cities of Nice and the “ballade des Anglais”, Cannes named the city of cinema and Saint-Tropez.

 

Vineyard of the Rhone Valley during a wine tour of the french regions
Visite of Avignon and the cité of Popes during a wine tour of the french regions

Rhône Valley, birthplace of Syrah

Since the last decades, Rhône valley wines have been getting more and more famous. Côte-Rôtie being probably the best actor of this powerful rise. Separated in two sub regions – the Northern and the Southern Rhone and the main grape varieties are: Syrah and Grenache for the reds, Viognier, white Grenache, Roussanne and Marsanne for the whites. You will find two sweet wines in AOC which are located in Rasteau and Beaumes-de-Venise and a yellow wine from Hermitage which is less known than Jura’s ones but still be interesting. The diversity between the North with Côte-Rôtie and Saint-Joseph and the South with Châteauneuf-du-Papes is extremely interesting. In the north, the strong character of the pepper, the black fruits and the violette are dominating while you will find more red fruits and black berries in the south. In the south of the Rhone valley, you will be able to discover incredible villages and have some great views. Avignon, the city of the popes, is full of history around the wine culture. To resume, you have a lot of things to discover… At the north of the Rhone Valley, Lyon, capital of the gastronomy and place of birth of the cook of the 20th century Paul Bocuse must be visited.

Savoy & Bugey, where the vines manage the mountains

Savoy, kingdom roughly and keenly contested between France, Switzerland and Italy tries to keep its independent identity… And it works. Like Jura, Savoy is less known than other wine regions and uses mainly native grape variety. Different from the close by Bugey region, they are often presented together to gain some renown. With the highest vineyards in France, they clearly deserve more recognition and the mountain provide some great landscapes and lakes. You should go and visit to have your point of view. For the gastronomy, Savoy is world-known because of the number of cheese and their taste. Although, the Savoy has the greatest ski resorts of the world with Chamonix, Courchevel, Val d’Isère and others.

South West and its famous Malbec

This is one of the greatest region of France today. The palette of appellations & quality of wine is unrivalled in France. But this is not only a region of wine-making, this is a very specific culture with a strong and proud identity. Their gastronomy is as incredible as the people and wine you can discover, always generous! For the rest, you will have to go there and visit to understand all of this. If you are brave, you can hike in the Pyrenees and discover some great thing of the culture with typical cheeses or the greatest pigs of France.

We hope that this article helped you to discover a little bit more the wine-making regions of France through its culture, its wines and gastronomy. We offer you some wine days in different regions of France like Normandy, Champagne and Loire Valley from Paris. If you want to book a trip in France or in any foreign country around wine and gastronomy, we please you to contact us and we would be glad to organize it for you.

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