September 23, 2021 by Arden Montgomery
‘Gaux to France
Whether hopping the next flight to Paris or simply wanderlusting from your couch, escaping to France and drinking delicious wine go hand in hand. Home to some of the world’s most impeccable growing sites and greatest producers, it’s only natural that daily wine consumption has become embedded in French culture. Despite the rise of many other global wine-producing zones, long viticultural traditions rooted in innovation, regulation, and a standard for quality have kept France at the forefront of high-quality winemaking. It’s no surprise that the country remains a benchmark for other regions, growers, and consumers to admire.
‘Gaux to France – What to Know About French Wine
Main Regions: Loire Valley, Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Savoie, Jura, Rhône, Provence, Corsica, Languedoc, South West, Bordeaux
Grape Varieties: Although there are hundreds of thousands of grape varieties in France, about 40 key varieties account for almost all of the country’s production.
Fun fact: Although Portugal created the first official wine designation, it was France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system that truly put the concept of ensuring regional standards for quality and typicity on the map. (Bonus fact: France is also deemed the birthplace of the concept of terroir, a term with no direct translation that refers to the overall growing conditions of a specific place, including but not limited to climate, topography, soils, and more.)
Location / How to Get There: Fly into Charles de Gaulle or Orly airport (likely the former) and arrive in the capital city of Paris. From there, accessing wine regions is as easy as renting a car or hopping on a high-speed TGV train.
What to Know: France is home to 13 major wine regions, all of which have a bustling oenotourisme scene. While the majority of major French cities will have some form of tasting rooms or wine tours available, getting out and visiting small producers is what really gets us excited. Do your research ahead of time, reach out for appointments, and get off the beaten path for a one-of-a-kind time.
Not to Miss: If staying in Paris, the most obvious trips to make are to Champagne and the Loire Valley. However, most viticultural regions can be accessed in less than three hours with the country’s TGV trains. For example, Strasbourg (Alsace) takes about two hours, Bordeaux takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes, and Aix-en-Provence (Provence) / Montpellier (Languedoc), around 3½. As much as we love Champagne and the Loire, there are so many accessible domaines just waiting to be discovered.
French Wines Included
Château des Antonins is housed in a 13th century convent originally built for the monks of the order of Saint Antoine. After the French Revolution, the property fell into the hands of the Roquefeuil family, who still own and operate the estate today. This latest vintage of their Bordeaux Blanc is as crisp and refreshing as it gets. Expect an explosion of honeysuckle, grapefruit, green bell pepper, orange blossom, and white pepper to lead to an herbaceous, mouth-filling finish. Produced from sustainably-farmed fruit.
Looking for the perfect bottle of rosé to carry you from happy hour straight through dinner? This easy-drinking bottle from Château Barbebelle is just the ticket. Produced from a classic blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, this Provençal beauty shows flavors of strawberry, rose water, and germanium. Pair with a variety of apéro snacks, including crisp salads, goat cheese tarts, or a variety of fresh cheeses. Made from organic and sustainably-farmed fruit.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that our love for Domaine Rougeot knows no limits. Fruit for this delicious Aligoté comes from an organically-farmed, 1.5-hectare plot rooted in clay-limestone soils. The wine ferments with native yeasts and is bottled without any added sulfites. Expect flavors of green apple skin, lemon curd, white flower blossoms, and a touch of coarse sea salt to lead to a harmonious, thirst-quenching finish.
Based in Verdigny, Cherrier Frères is one of our go-to Loire Valley estates. Their domaine encompasses 30 hectares of vines spread across five villages in Sancerre and a handful of areas in Menetou-Salon. All farming is done sustainably, with the use of cover crops and elimination of chemicals implemented. Their Sancerre Rouge is everything you want Loire Valley Pinot Noir to be: medium-bodied, fruit-driven, and loaded with tons of acidity. Flavors of red berries, dried herbs, violets, and baking spice lead to a silky smooth finish. Enjoy slightly chilled with grilled salmon, mushroom pizza, or a variety of poultry-based dishes.
For a crowd-pleasing red that promises to satisfy an array of palate preferences, look no further than Domaine de la Bonne Tonne’s Morgon Grand Cras. This juicy Gamay is loaded with flavors of cranberry, freshly picked cherries, baking spice, and a touch of red flowers. The wine was made from certified organic/biodynamic fruit and only 625 cases were produced. Throw a simple cheese and charcuterie board together, slap a slight chill on the wine, and get ready to have your thirst quenched!
We’ve already shared our love for Château des Antonins’ Bordeaux Blanc above, though we’d be remiss to not share our equal appreciation for their Cuvée Spéciale Rouge. Crafted from a traditional blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%), this rich and rustic wine shows flavors of black fruits, vanilla, toasted almonds, and a hint of sweet smoke. While powerful (yet drinkable) in its youth, the wine will continue to soften over the next 5-10 years.
As the name implies, this traditional Rhône blend is for the daydreamers (á la rêverie). Crafted from Grenache (80%), Syrah (10%), and Carignan (10%), this flavor-packed red oozes with notes of black cherry, red raspberry, citrus rind, white pepper, and leather. Château de Montfrin has been in winemaker Jean René e Fleurieu’s family since the mid-1800. It is a breathtaking property surrounded by 200 hectares of vineyards and olive orchards, all of which are farmed organically. This is the ideal BBQ wine. Light up the grill, throw on some burgers and ribs, and pop the cork on this tasty bottle!