It’s pretty common for French wines not to be labeled with the grape varieties in the wine.
France is the leader in value. France also produces the 10 most expensive wines in the world.
Wine, and wine growing region. With Burgundy and Champagne, the Bordeaux region of Aquitaine is one of the three most famous French wine-producing regions. Historically, its fame is at least in part due to the fact that of these three big grape-growing areas, the Bordeaux vineyard is the only one with immediate access to the sea, an advantage that has enabled it to be France’s major wine exporting region for many centuries.
In 1152, when queen Eleanor of Aquitaine married the English king Henry II, the Aquitaine region became economically integrated into the Anglo-Norman world, the Bordeaux region becoming the main supplier of wine for England. This historic wine exporting tradition helped Bordeaux to develop far stronger commercial links in the ensuing centuries, firmly establishing Bordeaux wines, often referred to generically in English as “clarets”, on the international market.
The Bordeaux vineyard is centered round the port city of Bordeaux, along the estuary of the Gironde, and the rivers Garonne and Dordogne. It is a large vineyard, and the geo-specific appellation “Bordeaux” covers an area stretching some 100 km both north-south and east-west.
While the appellation contrôlée covers wines of medium quality from all over this region, many if not most of the top quality clarets grown in the overall area benefit from more specific and distinctive area appellations, such as Médoc , Graves or Saint Emilion, and even more local appellations such as Pauillac, Graves and Saint-Estèphe.
Unlike other French wine-growing areas, the Bordeaux area operates classifications of many of its top wines, notably those from the Médoc and Saint Emilion vineyards. The best estates in these areas have the right to sell wines designated as grand cru. Below the grand crus come other high quality wines designated as cru bourgeois.
The vineyards of the Burgundy region cover a narrow strip of land on the eastern slopes of the hills running south-east from the Burgundian Capital, Dijon. the heart of the Burgundy wine growing region is the historic city of Beaune, where the autumn wine sale in the historic “Hospices” building is one of the high points of the wine year. Burgundy wines are classified on four levels, the lowest being the generic “Bourgogne” appellation. Selected areas of the Burgundy vineyard have their own classifications, such as Côtes de Beaune. Within these, there are smaller areas, villages and groups of villages, reputed to produce higher quality wine, such as Meursault or Aloxe Corton . Finally, at the top of the pyramid, there are the “grands crus”, such as Clos Vougeot, with its mere 51 hectares of vineyard. Finding ones way around Burgundy wines is sometimes a daunting task. The best Burgundy wines are the reds, the best of which can keep for a good 20 to 30 years. However, Burgundy also produces some top quality, though not too distinctive, whites. It is often said that generic burgundies “Bourgogne Rouge” or Bourgogne Passetoutgrains” white are overpriced and not particularly good value for money.
Although there are some excellent wines produced in the large Loire Valley area, there are few Loire wines, whites, rosés or pale reds, that rank among the greatest French wines. “Anjou Rosé” is a good everyday rosé, and “Muscadet” and “Gros Plant” from near the mouth of the Loire are dry white wines that go excellently with seafood.. Another good appellation is “Pouilly Fumé” (not to be confused with “Pouilly Fuissé”, a white Burgundy). The Loire valley, however, is also France’s second largest producer of sparkling wines, after Champagne. The region also produces vin gris, “grey wine”, which is actually a very pale rosé, being a white wine made from black grapes like those from Vendome. Two of the more prestigious varieties are Vouvray and Saumur.
Côtes du Rhône is one of those French wines that has become famous on account more as a result of the extent of the vineyard than of the quality of the wine. The Côtes du Rhône vineyard runs for over 200 kilometres down the Rhone valley from the south of Lyon to the Camargue. Within the region, there are a number of prestigious smaller areas such as Côte Rotie in the northern part of the region, Hermitage or Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas near Avignon.
The southern end of the Côtes du Rhône appellation area is actually in Provence.
The vast majority of Côtes du Rhône wine is sold under the generic appellations, “Côtes du Rhône” or “Côtes du Rhone Villages”.
Côtes du Rhone wines are mediterranean wines, and generally speaking they are blended from the different classic grape varieties of the South of France, including most notably Viognier, Syrah, and Grenache.