Although delving into a country’s viticulture and vinification scene can seem a bit overwhelming, France is actually one of the more straightforward countries to grasp. We’ve rounded up nine of the nation’s most renowned regions worth getting acquainted with, as well as an accessible bottle to sip, making it easy and delicious to get to know each one even better.
Simply shop, pop and dive into everything you need to know about these nine globally renowned wine-producing regions.
Alsace doesn’t frequently get the love it deserves, and we’re here to change that. The region is best known for its monovarietal white wine bottlings, which are produced from riesling, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, sylvaner and a handful of other local grapes. For those who love acid-driven bottles that are perfect for pairing with a variety of cuisines (think Alsatian specialties like choucroute and tartes flambées all the way to spicy som tum or lamb vindaloo, this is the region for you.
There’s a reason why Beaujolais is immensely beloved by sommeliers and consumers alike. Known for its poppy fruit-forward red wines produced from gamay, this region’s wines are perfect for serving slightly chilled and sipping year-round. Beaujolais is also credited as one of the initial pioneering regions of the natural wine movement, so expect no shortage of organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers.
Although Bordeaux gets a rather high-and-mighty reputation, the region is also home to some of France’s most accessible and easy-drinking table wines. Bordeaux is basically a Tale of Two Banks: Left and Right. On the Left, swanky classified “growths” and accessible estates alike produce cabernet-dominant reds, while the region’s Right Bank blends are dominated by supple, silky merlot. The Entre-Deux-Mers region is home to a robust white wine production dominated by sauvignon blanc and sémillon, and when it comes to world-class dessert wines, Bordeaux definitely has those, too (sauternes and barsac).
Looking for some of the most prestigious wines the viticultural world has to offer? Burgundy is where it’s at. This highly regarded easterly region is known for its extremely terroir-reflective pinot noir and chardonnay bottlings, which come from some of the most fetishized vineyard sites on the planet. Because of its extremely specific vineyard plots and microclimates, Burgundy is often credited as the birthplace of the concept of terroir, as well as lieu-dit (site-specific) farming.
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Champagne and high-quality bubbles go hand in hand. This renowned sparkling region is known for its mastery of the méthode traditionelle (secondary fermentation in bottle), which produces wines that are perfect for sipping year-round—celebration or not. These wines undergo a meticulous vinification regimen and are grown in extreme climates, which merit an often-hefty price tag. Though fear not—there are plenty of accessible bottles to be discovered in this luxurious region.
The Languedoc is one of France’s most overlooked and underrated wine-producing regions. Although formerly known for its bulk wine production, the Languedoc has done a U-turn over the last few decades. Today, bold reds, crisp rosés and acid-driven whites dominate the region’s extensive production, most of which won’t break the bank. For a Provence-Rhône hybrid with a Basque-influenced twist, check out this up-and-coming region.
Tucked away in France’s northwestern corner, the Loire Valley is home to some of the country’s best value-to-price ratio wines on the market. The region spans from just southwest of Paris all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean, with most vineyard sites located along the region’s eponymous river. To the east, appellations like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé focus on crisp sauvignon blanc production, while the center of the valley is chenin blanc and cabernet franc country. Out west, zesty white wines are made from the melon de Bourgogne grape in Muscadet and are perfect for pairing with local oysters. For quality wines on a budget, look no further than this versatile region.
Nothing screams sunny south of France like sipping a bottle from Provence. This coastal Mediterranean region produces wines all over the color spectrum, though it’s best known for its crisp and refreshing bottles of rosé. Produced from a handful of local varieties, these zesty sun-kissed bottles are perfect for drinking pink beneath the sun all spring and summer long.
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Love meaty earth-driven reds and unctuous bottles of white? Check out the Rhône Valley. This region is divided into two parts, Northern and Southern, and knowing where to look is key. The Northern Rhône’s wine production is significantly smaller than its southerly half and is much more dialed in. Here, smoky bottles of syrah dominate red wine production, while small amounts of white wine are produced from viognier and/or marsanne and roussanne. To the south, GSM (grenache, syrah, mourvedre) blends are more commonly found, many of which make up the Valley’s famed Côtes du Rhône production.