Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Pinot Noir are among the different grape varieties from France.
The popularity of French Wines
France has several regions which produce French wine. They have the second-largest vineyard area and are the largest wine producer at about eight billion bottles per year. The French Ministry of Agriculture released statistics showing that French adults consumed about a glass of wine per day which made wine consumption down by four liters. The consumption of wine dropped across various social groups and exports also fell. The biggest drop was in sparkling wines and Champagne. An International Wine as Spirit research study, in 2011, shows that Americans consumed more wine than any other country.
Wine Annual Report and Statistics – This is a report which assesses commodity and trade issues.
History of French Wine
Originating in the 6th century BC, with the colonization of Greek sellers in Southern Gaul, viticulture flourished when Marseille, the Greek colony was founded. South regions were licensed by the Roman Empire to produce wines. Monks, during the middle ages, not only maintained the vineyards but conserved the knowledge and skills. They had the motivation, security and the resources to steadily produce wine for generating income as well as celebrating mass. Mildew and Phylloxera were spread throughout France which put an abrupt stop to the advancement of the wind industry and vineyards were desolate.
Eventually, an economic downturn and both world wars would mean the wine industry would take decades to fully recover. Appellation d’Origine Controlee was established in 1935 in order to protect France because French “brands” were being threatened by competition. During the 1970’s the economy took an upward turn after World War II, large investments were made, and a new generation helped create the French wines of modern times.
Quality Levels and Appellation Systems for French Wine
Numerous laws to control French wine quality levels were passed in 1935. The Appellation d’Origine Controlee was a system governed by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine which means the oldest system for protected designation of origin is one of the oldest in the world. France also created strict laws for production and winemaking which other systems modeled to. Two of the four wine categories, Vin de Table and Vin de Pays, which French law divided wine into, fall under the European Union’s Table wine category and the other two, Vin Delimite de Qualite Superieure and Appellation d’Origine Controlee, fall into the EU’s Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region designation.
The natural factors and their unique combinations, which are associated with particular vineyards, are known as terroir and it is of great importance to French vignerons. These factors include underlying rock, the slope of the terrain, microclimate, and orientation towards the sun, soil, and altitude. No vineyards have the same terroir which is the base concept behind the AOC system. When identical varieties of grapes are in different regions, wines are produced which have a significant difference. The Burgundy region is where the terroir concept is manifested the most extreme.
Wine Regions of France
The Institut National des Appellations d’Origine regulated the regions of France in which have been recognized as areas that produce wine. Each appellation has been defined by the INAO by the regions wine character. If the criterion is not met, the wine is declassified. Most appellations can be defined with the main regions which produce the most wine. These main regions include:
Alsace – Alsace produces some sparkling and sweet wines as well as rose’ and reds, but this is primarily a white-wine region. This link provides more information on the wine regions of France.
Bordeaux – Bordeaux has a history of exporting wine, primarily red wine, overseas and is a located on the Atlantic coast. This link provides more information on the Bordeaux wine region as well as a few other wine regions of France.
Burgundy – Burgundy is located in eastern France and white and red wines are of equal importance. This link provides more in-depth information on the vines and wines of Burgundy.
Corsica – Corsica consumes its wine itself and is a Mediterranean island. This link provides an outline of the history of European vines and wines.
Loire Valley – Loire Valley stretches along the Loire River and mainly produces white-wine. This document provides more information about the history and demographics of this region.
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