In the previous post on how do you become a wine expert, I talked to you about the steps that will help you become an expert in the wine field, even if your studies have nothing to do with it. Somewhere, in between these steps, I talked about how important it is, among others, to visit a wine region! You get to combine knowledge and fun at the same time.
However, how do you know which one to choose?
Hmm.. That’s a weird one you may think… I say NOT AT ALL!
You see, what I am about to do is to give you a mini tour around some of the greatest wine regions! Since however, there are quite a few, I am going to start with some wine regions of France and keep on with other countries in coming up posts. In this way, you will get the chance to choose the one you like the most without sweat on your part! In fact, I am going to talk to you about 5 top French wine regions that will give you a great bunch of information along with a great experience to remember.
Well? What do you say? Should we move on?
Let’s get started then!
Here’s a list of the 5 top French wine regions we are going to see…
- Champagne Wine Region
- Loire Valley Wine Region
- Bordeaux Wine Region
- Burgundy Wine Region
- Languedoc – Roussillon Wine Region
Now, let’s get to the cheesy stuff…
No#1: Champagne Wine Region
The Champagne Wine Region is located in the northeast of France and it is one of the most famous wine regions. Why is that? Well, that is the wine region where our lovely sparkling wine, Champagne, got its name from! We can say that the Champagne region consists of five districts of production: Valée De La Marne, Montagne De Reims, Aube, Côtes Des Blancs and Côtes De Sézanne. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are 3 of the main grape varieties that are grown in the wine region, as the Champagne wine is mainly made from these three grape varieties. There are quite a few vineyards and winemakers to visit, such as
We can say that the Champagne region consists of five districts of production: Valée De La Marne, Montagne De Reims, Aube, Côtes Des Blancs and Côtes De Sézanne. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are 3 of the main grape varieties that are grown in these districts and it makes complete sense as they are the main grape varieties used for the making of the Champagne.
There are quite a few wine houses to visit in the Champagne Region. Duval – Leroy, Lanson, Laurent – Perrier, Moët & Chandon and Pol Roger are only some of them. There are also great wine tours and wine tastings that you can attend to, in the region. You may talk with winegrowers and discover all the traits and characteristics attributed to the original Champagne sparkling wine. You may see and learn first hand about the wine’s making methods and experience great sightseeing as the sceneries are truly amazing. It is no mystery that the Champagne region is one of the most notable wine regions.
So if you want to learn everything about the history and the qualities of the Champagne making and the wine itself, you will find the Champagne wine region a worthy one to spend your time and money. It has a great value to offer, knowledge and taste wise.
You may also find a lot of practical information about the region in www.champagne.fr/en/.
Moving on to the next one?
No #2: Loire Valley Wine Region
The Loire Valley Wine Region is located in the north-central part of France. It includes the regions of Nantes, Anjou, Touraine, Centre – Loire and Saumur that are situated along the Loire River. The history of this wine region in winemaking dates back to the 1st century. You will be surprised to know that in the High Middle Ages, the wines coming from that region were highly appraised in France and England, leaving the Bordeaux wines behind.
The Loire Valley wine region is well known for the diversity of the wine types it produces. You see, the production of wines ranges from white still or sparkling wines to rosé and red dessert wines. Quite notable is the fact that the Loire Valley wine region holds the second place in the sparkling wine production in France, after the Champagne region of course. There are quite a few grape varieties grown in the districts of this wine region. The main ones are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, Gamay and Cabernet Franc grape varieties.
As you may understand this diversity leads to a bunch of different kinds of information you can get. You get to see and explore a lot of different winemaking methods and styles while you get to taste a variety of wine types as well, in comparison to the Champagne wine region. There is a wide variety of events that take place in the Loire Valley region apart from tours and wine tasting sessions. The sightseeing is also quite an attraction. The châteaux of the Loire Valley are definitely a sight for sore eyes and they are sure to take your breath away along with its unique landscapes.
So, does it worth the effort or what? I say it does but that’s for you to decide.
Let’s get to the next wine region…
No #3: Bordeaux Wine Region
When we talk about wines and France, Bordeaux is probably the first city in the country that comes to your mind, isn’t it? Well, that is the one the comes to mine for sure! That happens because everyone associates the city with the famous Red Bordeaux blend wine, along with other prestigious wines coming from the Bordeaux wine region. Well, let me get you to some more specifics, though!
The Bordeaux wine region is the largest wine growing one of France, as it includes up to 120.000 hectares of vineyards. It expands from the centre of the Bordeaux city till the end of the Gironde department, covering it all as well. The wine region is naturally divided into the Right Bank and the Left Bank. The Right Bank constitutes of the main regions of Libournais, Bourg and Blaye and the Left Bank of the regions of Médoc and Graves. Sweet white wines, Dry white ones, Red Bordeaux and Red Côtes de Bordeaux are only some of the wine styles produced in the Bordeaux wine region.
- Château Lynch Bages,
- Château La Lagune,
- Château Smith Haute Lafitte and
- Château Giraud
You may also find some more information about these châteaux in this very useful article.
A place that is definitely worth visiting within the Bordeaux wine region is the town of Saint Émillon, located on the Right Bank in the Libournais district. Its connection with vines goes way back in history, from the 2nd century and on. Saint Émillon was also declared as a World Heritage Site from UNESCO in 1999, as a historical place. Even though the town is still being active in its wine production, its landscapes, wineries, churches and buildings remain intact. So, it will be quite a site for you to explore along with the wine activities available. You may find more practical info on visiting St. Émillon here.
Generally, you will find that the Bordeaux Wine Region will prove to be a quite interesting and fascinating place to explore! Wine history and tasting are an absolute trademark of this region.
No #4: Burgundy Wine Region
The Burgundy or Bourgogne Wine Region, as it is called in French, is one of the primary wine producing areas of France. It is located in the east-central part of the country and constitutes of six sub-regions:
- Côte d’Auxerre or Chablis
- Côte de Beaune
- Côte de Nuits
- Côte Chalonnaise
Officially Burgundy is part of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region as of January 2016.
This region has a lot to offer if you consider that it is known for its red and white wines as well.The soils of this region are the greatest contributing factor to the distinction of the Burgundy wines. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, Sauvignon Blanc and Aligote are only some of the grape varieties produced in this wine region. It expands up to more than 29.000 hectares of vineyards, although 25.000 of them are declared as AOC.
There are indications of viticulture in the region from the 2nd century AD and it took its name from the Burgundians, an East Germanic tribe, that existed during the Roman Empire time.
The main classifications in the Burgundy wine region are the following:
- Grand Cru
- Premier Cru
- Village appellations
- regional appellations
This wine region is probably the one you must work a little bit before you visit. You see, although it has a long history of winemaking and things still work vividly as they used to, the travel reservations, wine tours and tastings in wineries are a bit more difficult in comparison to the other wine regions mentioned earlier.
So, take all the time you need and plan your visit in Burgundy wine region. Some resources that could also help you with your arrangements are here and here. It maybe a bit more tricky than the others but its historical sightseeings and wineries worth the effort.
And now let’s see the last but very important wine region of France…
No #5: Languedoc – Roussillon Wine Region
Although it is the last wine I will refer to in this post, believe me, it is not the least important one. Believe it or not, the Languedoc – Roussillon Wine Region is the biggest one in the whole world. Seriously! It’s true! This wine region alone, accounts for more than one-third of the total production of wine in France, although the majority of wines produced are cheap wines. In fact, in 2001, its production of wines surpassed even the total wine production of the United States. Its even called “wine lake” due to each large amount of production.
It is located in the northern part of France and it covers the Mediterranean coastline from the region of Provence to the borders of the country with Spain.
There is a quite large number of grape varieties growing in the region of Languedoc – Roussillon. Please take a look at some of them:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Sauvignon Blanc
Currently, there are more than 50 wine appellations in the Languedoc – Roussillon region as well as a lot of innovative wine producers that combine old winemaking methods with New World characteristics. That is something you don’t see and experience every day, something that cannot be found in the rest of the wine regions above.
Moreover, the region produces a wide range of wine styles such as red, white, sparkling, sweet wines, etc. Vins Doux Naturelles, Crémant de Limoux and Blanquette de Limoux wines are also produced in this wine region. Some of the wines near the French – Spanish borders, even have Spanish traits acquired from neighboring country.
Languedoc – Roussillon region has a lot of activities for you to attend, from wine tours and tastings to food tastings, skiing in the Pyrenees and fly with a balloon. Sounds that the last wine region of France has a lot of diversity to show in its wine styles but also in its variety of entertainment for its visitors. You may find some additional information here and here.
To Sum Up..
I have laid above some basic information regarding the knowledge you can acquire from each one of the 5 regions mentioned above wine wise. Ideally, after reading this post, you will be able to make your choice of a french wine region to visit and then go ahead and make the rest of your arrangements knowing exactly what you are aiming for.
I have also referred to some of the sightseeing activities available in each region and included some links that will help you get everything you need in order to combine fun with knowledge with the least effort on your part.
So, do think that there is a top french wine region I might have left out? If yes, please write it in the comments bellow, I would be happy to exchange opinions with you and even include your suggestion to my post…What I am about to do is to give you a mini tour around some of the greatest French wine regions! Click To Tweet