The earliest history of French wine goes back to the 6th century BC. Most winegrowing areas in modern day France date back to Roman times (Alsace being the exception). Over the last centuries, France has become the most influential winegrowing country. It is the birthplace of many well-known styles of wine that have long been the benchmark for winegrowers everywhere: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis and Champagne are a standard everywhere in the world. The country is also the home of most of the classic grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling is the exception and is grown in Alsace only - in the rest of France it is even forbidden!





No doubt France is the best known winegrowing country in the world. In many of the country's regions vineyards can be found. The variety of wines is dazzling and runs the gamut: from cheap and cheerful to world class and expensive. Every conceivable style is being produced in France, be it white, red, rosé, sweet, fortified or sparkling. When taking into account the differences between vintages, Bordeaux alone produces some 40.000 different wines each year!


Wine quality in France is regulated by law. Recently the French laws for winemaking have been changed, in order to give French winemakers a chance to compete with the New World. In the new system three categories are recognised: what used to be "Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée" is now called "Appellation d'Origine Protégé" and remains (theoretically) the highest quality tier. What used to be called "Vin de Pays" is now called "Indication d'Origine Protégé" and is the second quality tier. Gone altogether is the category of VDQS (that was always considered to be a mere waiting room for AOC status). Vin de Table is changed into the new category Vin de France. Now, producers can state grape variety and vintage on the label, where that used to be prohibited. And that is a huge improvement! In the old days, when you blended together for instance a cool-vintage Loire Sauvignon Blanc (lean stuff) with some South of France Sauvignon Blanc (fruity stuff), you had to label it "Vin de Table, Blanc de Blancs". Now you can label it Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Vin de France. Gone is the anonymous look of mediocre bulk wine, here is a proud French wine made from a trendy grape variety and from the latest available vintage.



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