Major Wine Regions
Dordogne & Southwest France
The Northern Rhone
The Southern Rhone
Leading Grape Varieties
France at a Glance
France is a leading player in European wine. In 2020, global wine production was estimated to be 260 Mhl (millions of hectolitres) of wine each year! As the second largest producer of wine with a whopping 46.6 Mhl per year (over 6 million bottles), France is only second to Italy’s 49 Mhl. In other words, there is a lot of wine that is produced for both their domestic an international markets. As a comparison, the U.S. is the 4th largest prouder at roughly 22.8 Mhl per year.
French wine is “terroir” driven, or based on “Sense of Place.” Terroir refers to the combination of climate, soil, altitude, sun exposure, and other natural environmental factors that effect how a grape grows and tastes. In France, “the place” is the leading influence for good wine-making, which is why one will see the name of a place on the bottle (i.e. Bordeaux or Burgundy). On the contrary, the U.S. labels wines by the name of the actual grape variety.
In fact, France was the first country to establish a national system for regulating, protecting, and restricting the use of place as a wine’s name. For example, only wine produced in Champagne can use the name “Champagne” on the wine label. In the U.S., producers must use other labels, such as “sparkling wine.” The Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) is the French legal system that defines which grapes can be approved for classification throughout the different appellations. The major appellations are listed in the table above.
France makes a variety of wine styles, from dry, sweet, rosé, and fortified across their many appellations of production. From the famous red and white blends of Bordeaux, the historic Pinot Noir expressions in Burgundy, the prestigious sparkling wines of Champagne, down to the beautiful Rosés of Provence, France pretty much makes them all!
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