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tasting notes
the wines of France

(Prices and stockists in the UK are listed in brackets; as a rough guide £1 = US$1.60. Date of tasting is indicated by month/year at the end of the note.)


France can plausibly claim to be the world's greatest wine producing nation. Although outgunned by Italy in terms of volume of wine produced, and Spain in terms of vineyard area, the classic French regions produce wines in a wide variety of styles that have come to be seen as definitive examples of their type. And French grape varieties have largely been the ones selected by new world regions as the basis of their wine industries.  

Bordeaux makes benchmark structured red wines from grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while Burgundy makes more sensual reds and whites from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, respectively.

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Champagne defines the standard for sparkling wines the world over, and the Rhône makes powerful, spicy reds from Syrah and Grenache. Then there's the Loire, home of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc and Alsace with its varietally labelled white wines. Even the Languedoc, once known only for its industrial scale plonk production, now makes some seriously good wines...the list goes on.

The good news for France is that quality revolutions are taking place from region to region as a new generation of vignerons begins to unlock the potential of France's diverse terroirs, pushing back the boundaries while largely respecting the fascinating regional variations that exist. France's weakness, however, lies in marketing its wines, and this has led to them losing ground to the new world in an increasingly unadventurous, brand-led UK marketplace. As a result, UK consumers are largely unaware of some of the exciting new wines now emerging from across France. Let's hope that this situation changes.