Vineyards, producing French wines

Vineyard : French wines

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Vineyards : French wine

There are thousands of vineyards in France which, between them, produce 9 billion bottles of wine per year. Every vineyard is allocated to a particular Appellation according to the type and quality of wines they produce – though for added confusion the standard gradings of wines in France are changed for both Bordeaux and Burgundy. Unlike the rest of the wines produced in France those Burgundy wines given the “Grand Cru” rating need only mention the name of the vineyard on the label.

The vineyards themselves range in size from the “industrial” to the tiny, and from the famous to the obscure. Some vineyards export their wines while others only ever sell to the French. There are many companies that provide tours and wine tastings at French vineyards if you want to experience French wine in the place where it has been made.
As an example, the Burgundy region has some of the oldest vineyards in France (though the oldest are actually in Provence) dating back to monasteries in 500AD with names like Santenay and Chambertin. Yet while Burgundy is the second biggest wine producing region of France (Bordeaux is the first) it has over 3,500 individual vineyards most of which are tiny family-run businesses, which account for two-thirds of the wine production in the region.

The key to the wine is the vine, and the grape variety, and how it is prepared and finished. The different regions, and vineyards within them, tend to specialise in certain types of grape and methods, hence the wine from a given area can be classed together. Pinot Noir grapes are the main ones used for the red wines of Burgundy, while Beaujolais is based on the Gamay variety.

Despite all the development of wines across the world the largest single vineyard remains Languedoc in France which, despite its size, produces same very good wines. The smallest area with an AOC is Irouleguy in the South East.