France is one of the most popular wine-growing countries worldwide. The climate and the soil conditions are excellent for cultivating quality wines.
Wine has been grown here for over 2,000 years already. In about 6,000 BC Greek immigrants brought different grape varieties to Southern France. Later, the Romans distributed viniculture to todays vine-growing areas.
With 960,000 hectares vine cultivation area, France is the second biggest wine-producer worldwide after Italy. Bordeaux wines, Burgund and Champagne, as well as Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are familiar terms to many people.
The French wine law is strictly hierarchically organized. The bigger the area of origin, the lower is its rank in the quality pyramid. Every filled bottle is ascribed to a specific quality category. The base is formed by table wines and the top by quality wines (AOC wines).
Quality wines in France are mostly blends from various grape varieties.
Four quality categories are distinguished:
– Table wine (Vin de table)
– Superior table wine (Vin de Pays)
– Superior quality (VDQS – Vins Délimités de Qualité Superieure)
– Quality wine (AOC- Appelation d’Origine Controlée)
There are more degrees of rank within the AOC category that vary according to region.
More than 70% of the cultivated wine is red wine in France. The mainly grown reds are Merlot, Grenache Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir and Cinsault. The predominant whites are Ugni Blanc and Chardonnay.