French Wine Fun Facts

We attended a wine tasting at an Expat Expo here in Lyon last October. Not only was it tasty, but very informative. I like to think of myself as fairly knowledgeable in the world of wine, but I definitively learned a lot yesterday. So, I thought I would share some of that knowledge with you!  ;D

Grape varieties in France are highly regulated, so if you buy a wine from any of the regions described below, you should be able to generally predict what type of grape was used in the making of this wine. This is helpful because some more expensive wines do not have labels on the back with extra information.

Bordeaux Region:
Red Grape Varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc
White Grape Varieties: Sauvignon, Semillon, and Muscadelle

Great wines within this region are from: Medoc and Saint Emilion

Bourgogne/Burgundy Region:
Red Grape Variety: Pinot Noir
White Grape Variety: Chardonnay
Beaujolais Red Grape: Gamay

Great white wine within this region is from: Cote de Beaune* (see bottom)
The white that we tasted from Bourgogne, Rully, was from Cote Chalonnaise

Areas within the region in location order, starting with most northern:
1. Chablis: White
2. Cote de Nuits: Red
3. Cote de Beaune: Red and White (2&3 combined aka Cote d’Or)
4. Cote Chalonnaise: Red and White
5. Maconnais: White
6. Beaujolais: Red

Northern Cotes du Rhone Region:
Red Grape Variety: Syrah
White Grape Varieties: Viognier (Single Grape Variety), Marsanne, and Rousanne (the last two are usually mixed)

Great white wine within this region is from: Condrieu

Areas within the region in location order, starting with most northern:
1. Cote Rotie: Red
2. Condrieu: White
3. Saint Joseph: Red
4. Crozes-Hermitage: Red
5. Hermitage: Red
6. Cornas: Red
7. Saint Peray: White

Southern Cotes du Rhone:
Red Grape Varieties: Grenache (60%), Syrah (30%), Mourvedre, and Cinsault (comprise the other 10%)
White Grape Varieties: Grenache Blanc, Clairette (the first two grapes are usu. mixed), and Viognier (SGV: Single Grape Variety)

Great Rose within this region is from: Tavel

Areas within region in quality order:
1. Chateau Neuf de Pape: Red and White
2. Gigondas: Red
3. Vacqueyras: Red
4. Tavel: Rose
5. Lirac: Red, White, and Rose
6. Cotes du Rhone Village (with the name of the village): Red, White, and Rose
7. Cotes du Rhone Villages (could be comprised of grapes from any 19 of the villages)
8. Cotes du Rhone (no given name means it could be comprised of grapes from anywhere in the region)

Extra Information:
*Montrachet, located in the south of the Cote de Beaune, is considered to be one of the greatest white wines in the world, prices ranging from 55 EUR to 1800 EUR per bottle.
*Pouilly-Fuisse, a dry white wine made from Chardonnay from the Maconnais region in Bourgogne, is nice, but not as expensive as the wine from the Cote de Beaune.
*Don’t confuse Pouilly-Fuisse with Pouilly-Fume, which is a dry white wine made from Sauvignon from the Loire Valley characterized as smoky.
*Sauternes is a dessert wine from Bordeaux made from the grape varieties: Semillon (mostly), Sauvignon, and Muscadelle. This wine is made from grapes that have partially rotted! But, oh how delicious it is! I underlined the “s” because apparantly there is a wine in the US that also uses this name, but without the “s” and is not capitalized. Be wary!

Side note: The recommendations were from the speaker. Sorry, I did not add the appropriate accents with names, so good luck pronouncing some of these. :)

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