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French Wine

France is synonymous with fine wines and, despite the popularity of wine from the New World, French wines remain the benchmark against which all other wines are judged. French wine production is steeped in history dating back to the 6th. century B.C. and traditions which go back to the time vineyards were planted widely by the Romans. The success of French wines is rooted in the geography and geology of the country. The influence of the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and the land-mass of Europe on France's climate together with the rich diversity of propitious geology and soil types have enabled the establishment of ten wine growing regions of the best quality alongside a large number of other vineyard areas.

The German influence of Alsace, the celebration that is Champagne, the crisp herbal qualities of the Loire whites, the complexities of Bordeaux and Burgundy, the decidedly different wines of Jura in Franche-Comté, the fruitiness of Beaujolais and the power and sun-drenched ripeness of the wines from the northern and southern Rhône as well as the wines from Provence, the Languedoc and the South West exemplify the wide range of wines and styles of table wine that underline France's pre-eminence in the world of wine.

France was the first country to enshrine its wine production in law – the development of the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system in the 1920s successfully introduced minimum standards both in the vineyard and winery and related this inextricably with the concept of “terroir”, an idea which unifies geographical location, soil and sub-soil, grape variety, climate (including micro-climate) and viticultural practices. The number of AOC wines in France now numbers in excess of 300 some of which are from very small vineyard plots with tiny production levels. Others, such as AOC Côtes du Rhône, cover vast areas with a commensurate production volume.

Despite the large scale transition to other cash-crops in the flatlands of the south of France since the 1970s and an even greater emphasis on quality wine production France continues to be the world's largest wine producing country. The challenge of so-called New World wines from Australia, South Africa, Chile etc. has been the motivation for some producers to explore possibilities outside of the AOC system and plant different grape varieties to make what some perceive to be more popular, easier drinking, styles of wine. Such wines are now sold under the classification of I.G.P. (Indication Géographique Protégée) as part of new E.U. regulations governing their former title of Vin de Pays. Some of these wines can be very good indeed and command high prices in the market-place.

  1. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2007

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2007

    This vintage was ravaged by summer storms but the quality was rescued by good weather in September producing a deliciously soft red wine.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  2. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2008

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2008

    The vintage 2008 of Château Bernadotte is a round and mellow wine with blackcurrant fruit.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country France

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  3. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2010

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, 2010

    A cru bourgeois wine made in the Haut-Médoc from roughly equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Robert Parker is a fan.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  4. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Half Bottle, 2009

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Half Bottle, 2009

    Robert Parker described it as the best wine to date from this estate and requiring a little more time to evolve.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  5. Château Cissac, Haut-Médoc, 1986

    Château Cissac, Haut-Médoc, 1986

    Château Cissac is a dark and tannic cru bourgeois wine needing a longer cellaring than other such wines. This was an exceptional year and is still drinking very well indeed.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  6. Chateau Haut-Condissas, Haut Medoc, 2006

    Chateau Haut-Condissas, Haut Medoc, 2006

    Merlot dominated blend showing plum and licorice on the palate with some opulence.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  7. Château Haut-Condissas, Haut-Médoc, 2005

    Château Haut-Condissas, Haut-Médoc, 2005

    This is a distinctly fruity Haut-Médoc with blackberries, delicate tones of licorice, smoke and earth. Silk-like tannins and an impressive concentration complement this wine's broad, expansive style.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

    Regular Price: £39.99

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  8. Chateau Haut-Condissas, Haut-Medoc, 2007

    Chateau Haut-Condissas, Haut-Medoc, 2007

    Drinking very well now and will keep until at least 2020.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  9. Château Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Médoc, 2008

    Château Sociando-Mallet, Haut-Médoc, 2008

    An unclassified claret with a very good reputation. The overwhelming majority of the wine is aged in new French oak with a small percentage aged in tanks.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  10. Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Magnum, 2006

    Chateau Bernadotte, Haut-Medoc, Magnum, 2006

    Classic red Bordeaux in a magnum that is very nice now and which has at least another 10 years of good drinking.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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