France is renowned for producing some of the best wines in the world and it is home to prestigious winemaking regions that everyone easily recognizes, such as Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux and the sense of clout that comes with those names. Not to mention, many varieties that first rose to prominence in France, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, have now become “international varieties” because of their popularity. Many of France’s winemaking practices and styles have also been adopted around the world for the quality wines they produce.
For keeping the wine and terroir character, France is divided into wine producing areas by the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine and strict rules apply on the wine-making process if a vineyard wants to produce a high appellation wine. The most notorious regions are:
Alsace – Eastern France, bordering Germany. Famous for its White Wines, although Red, Rosé, Sparkling and Sweet wine are also produced. Main grapes are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Pinot noir, and Muscat.
Beaujolais – Central east of France. Great producer of Red Wine from the Gamay grape, along with some White and some Sparkling Rosé.
Bordeaux – Atlantic coast. Primarily a Red Wine producer, with a long list of iconic wines. Usually composed by a blend between Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and sometimes Cabernet Franc. Famous also for its Sweet White Wines like Château d'Yquem.
Burgundy – Eastern France. A nice balance in the production of White Wines and Red Wines, respectively Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. An incredibly terroir-conscious region, with the largest number of appellations of all France’s regions.
Champagne – Eastern France, close to Luxembourg and Belgium. World-famous for its White and Rosé Sparkling Wines.
Languedoc-Roussillon – South of France. Largest region in terms of production and vineyard surface.
Loire Valley – Central and Western France. Mainly White Wine producer.
Provence – Close to the Mediterranean on the south-east of France. Warm region, producer of Rosé and Red Wines.
Rhône Valley – South-eastern of France, along the Rhône River. It is usually divided into two sub-regions, Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône. The northern region is famous for Syrah Red Wines, sometimes blended with White Wine grapes, and White Wines from Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. The southern, on the other hand, tends to offer blends, such as the important AOC of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.