This area is a great place to experience some of the best
champagnes although you can find smaller growers who produce champagne that are well under
half the price you would pay for the top brands, yet still have the same finesse we have
all come to expect from a fine champagne.
The Loire Valley is a massive wine producing
region that stretches from the coast near Nantes where you can get Muscadet wine, right
through to Saumur, Anjou and Vouvray where you will experience wines of Cabernet Franc and
Gamay reds or travel to the Touraine where can get reasonably priced Sauvignon Blancs.
And the beautiful chateaux and the tranquil winding river make the Loire region one of
France's most visited areas for experiencing wines and fine French food to accompany them
with the stunning backdrops so synonymous with this region.
For hundreds of years Bordeaux has had a long and
internationally famous history of quality winemaking, but unfortunately the demand often
outstrips what the wine growers can produce and therefore the top chateaux can charge very
high prices for their wines, although you can still pick up a good value Bordeaux wine
whilst you are on holiday in France, if you travel
to the outskirts of the region, like Graves or Cote de Castillon, and visit the smaller
The Burgundy region in France is famous throughout the
world for its Chardonnay whites and Pinot Noir reds and this region produces numerous
different tasting wines, even though they are from the same grape, but this is due to the
wine making practices of the growers and the area they are in for example the change in
The best whites include wines from Chablis and the more full bodied wines from the
villages of the Cote de Beaune, yet if you travel further South to the Cote Chalonnaise,
there are elegant chardonnays but at a far cheaper cost than the famous wines of the
The villages of the Cote de Nuits and Cote de Beaune produce some excellent Pinot Noir red
wines, although there are some very enjoyable red wines produced as far north as the Cotes
d'Auxerre near Chablis and are low in tannins, plus when young taste soft and fruity.
Beaujolais was once just as famous as Burgundy for its wines with vineyards priced
extremely high, but it has in some ways become a tainted reputation due to the nouveau
wines that were pioneered by George Dubeouf.
This area has the Gamay grape, which makes low tannin red wines that are traditionally
either light or medium bodied, whereas the wines from
older vines are more full bodied and take on a flavour similar to that of Pinot Noir.
Beaujolais is a very picturesque area with lovely little hamlets to be discovered and is a
popular tourist destination for walking and cycling holidays - perfect when you don't want
to be caught for drink driving!
The Rhone Valley starts just south of Lyon and the
vineyard area continues down the river valley before it spreads out around Avignon.
The grape of the Northern Rhone is the Syrah, but there are villages in the hotter South
such as Chateuneuf du Pape that make extremely dense full bodied red wines that will last
for years, but there are also some lesser know areas such as the Cotes de Ventoux, where
you can find some reasonably priced yet good quality reds that are a perfect accompaniment
to the French cuisine of the area.
The Languedoc region in France is one of the
biggest wine producing regions and to put this into perspective, it has over two times
more land planted to vines than the whole of Australia! But in the past it has had a
reputation of low quality, although this is starting to change and the red wines from this
area are usually characterised by scents of wild herbs that grow all over the region.
The best quality red wines are made away from the coast on the slopes of the Haut
Languedoc range along with the Corbieres area that also produces good quality red wine,
but if you prefer a white wine, then the vin de pays can be obtained from vineyards
between Pezenas and Beziers.
Roussillon, with its hot climate and old
vines found in the valleys is probably the most diverse and exciting wine region in
France, as the styles vary immensely from floral whites through to rosés, and full bodied
spicy reds through to the famous dessert wines like the Muscat.