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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. Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe , Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 1985

    Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe , Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 1985

    From one of the most highly rated estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The 1985 vintage is still a complex red wine featuring wood smoke, cigar box and some spice on the nose and palate.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Châteauneuf du Pape Blend Red
    Country France

    £134.40

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  2. Château Filhot, 2me Cru Classé Sauternes, 2009

    Château Filhot, 2me Cru Classé Sauternes, 2009

    Château Filhot is a very good quality sweet wine from the Sauternes appellation.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Muscadelle, Sauternes Blend, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon
    Country France

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  3. Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 1996

    Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, 1996, is a full bodied Bordeaux exuding sweet black fruits, with hints of tobacco, spice and oak, a degree of minerality and ripe tannins.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  4. Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Classé Sauternes, 1997

    Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Classé Sauternes, 1997

    Chateau Guiraud 1997, a 1er Cru Classé sweet dessert wine from the commune of Sauternes, has a very intense, rich nose of pineapple, melted butter and crystallized citrus with notes of orange, liquorice and cinnamon.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Sauternes Blend
    Country France

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  5. Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Classé Sauternes, 2006 (1/2 Bottle)

    Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Classé Sauternes, 2006 (1/2 Bottle)

    Botrytis infected Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes produce this white dessert wine with great freshness and life.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Muscadelle, Sauternes Blend, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon
    Country France

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  6. Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Classé Sauternes, 2007 (1/2 Bottle)

    Chateau Guiraud, 1er Cru Classé Sauternes, 2007 (1/2 Bottle)

    Château Guiraud is the only 1er Cru Classé wine estate within the boundaries of the commune of Sauternes apart from the great Ch. d'Yquem.

    Details
    Colour White Wine
    Grape Variety Muscadelle, Sauternes Blend, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon
    Country France

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  7. Château Léoville Barton, Saint Julien, 2008

    Château Léoville Barton, Saint Julien, 2008

    Another very good year from this château which really needs a bit more time to reach its peak although it is delicious drinking now with a couple of hours decanting.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  8. Château Montlandrie, Castillon, 2009

    Château Montlandrie, Cotes de Castillon, 2009

    Merlot dominated wine displaying an opulent fruit character with some complexity. Highly regarded by Robert Parker.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Franc, Merlot
    Country France

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  9. Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, 1986

    Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, 1986

    Described by no less an authority than Robert Parker as being a perfect wine, an opinion shared by everyone who is fortunate enough to taste this marvellous Pauillac.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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  10. Château Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc, 2003

    Château Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc, 2003

    Château Bernadotte, Haut-Médoc, made fruity, chunky wine that has firm tannins and upfront cassis and plum fruit in 2003.

    Details
    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Bordeaux Blend Red
    Country France

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