If you are looking for the perfect place to take a wine tour then look no further the the win-producing powerhouse that is France. The country is absolutely packed with a wide variety of different regions which produced every type of wine, all of the finest standard.
I’ve always felt that a journey should really have a purpose other than simply visiting new places and for that reason, last year I broke up some of the France vacation rentals which I found on the internet and set about going on a an exploratory wine tour across the country. I thought I would share with you some of my most favorite places which I visited during my tour so that you could follow my lead should you want to do the same thing. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite places in France to discover wine.
Languedoc produces a whopping 10% of all French red wine and whilst much of it is very run of the mill, house wines, there is a great deal of vineyards down on France’s mediterranean coast which are producing some great stuff. The region is wonderful too, a lovely temperature and a tranquil coastal setting. My advice would be to get to Limaux and sample some of the fine sparkling wine which they have on offer there.
Cotes du Rhone
This monster vineyard runs for a full 200 kilometers down the Rhone valley, the impressive size of the vineyard in actual fact is part of the reason why this wine is so famous. Generally speaking the mediterranean wines which you will find in this region are blended with much different grapes than from the southern regions and use instead classics such as Viognier, Syrah and Grenache for a much sweeter flavor.
Bordeaux offers a wide variety of vineyards for the wine tourist to visit and by far the most famous and fruitful among them is the region of Aquitaine. Up there with Burgundy and Champagne as the holy trinity of French wine-producers, this area of Bordeaux has been helped to reach stardom thanks to its proximity to the coast which has meant that exportation has been very easy throughout the years. The appellation ‘Bordeaux’ actually covers a region of over 100 square kilometers that enter around the port city of Bordeaux and the vineyards can be found along the Dordogne River and the Gironde estuary.
The blended grape wines that can be found in Jura are only surpassed by the stunning landscape in which the grapes are grown and I have no doubt that this will be one of your most favorite locations on your wine tour, just like it was mine. Most of the wines here are made with the exclusive-to-Jura grape variety Savagnin, and they are unlike most other French wines that you will have tasted. The backdrop to the vineyards is a landscape of rolling hills, rugged mountain ridges, natural reservoirs and vistas of the Burgundy valley. A beautiful stopping off point with some fantastic wine choices.
Sat in the Rhine valley between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, Alsace creates wines that indicate the level of German influence which it has seen over the years. Light and fruity wines are the order of the day in Alsace and you will find plenty of variations of Rieslings and Gewurtztraminers. The region itself also offers a real Germanic feel to it and along with traditional French cuisine you will find some rustic German cooking and some great Bratwurst that go perfectly with a local Riesling.
Unfortunately the Loire Valley still has not yet had the recognition that I feel as though it deserves for some of the outstanding wines which it creates. Anjou Rose is still its most famous export and even that doesn’t rank highly when put against many other of France’s most famous and popular wines. Pouilly Fume and Muscadet are other wines which you will find in the valley and in all honesty they taste a great deal better when you are at the mouth of the Loire river than they do when you pick them up in a supermarket. In spite of lacking a reputation, this region of France is actually the second highest producer of sparkling wine in France behind the powerhouse of Champagne. The best wine I tasted here was the unappealingly named ‘grey wine’ made with a mixture of black and white grapes, it tasted like a full-bodied rose that was more akin to a Pinot Gris albeit with a very different flavor. Don’t believe the naysayers, Loire Valley is a great place to hit on your wine tour.
Have you taken a wine tour before in France? What were your favorite places and wines? Let us know what you thought about the tour in the comments section below.