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The Important Wine Regions of France

French wines – a dance through the maze

President Charles de Gaulle once remarked how difficult it was to govern a country which made more than 200 cheeses. How much more difficult then can it be for wine lovers to understand a country with more than 300 wine appellations? Not a rhetorical question. One possible answer, and the preferred one in my humble opinion, is to let French Wine Tours take you on a dance through the maze.

But what a beautiful maze! Let’s enter the dance floor from the north. First we waltz the rolling plains of Champagne, a name that is known throughout the world as a harbinger of celebration: fizz is fun! We take a side step east to Alsace where unique white wines reach their apogee, expressing in the glass the complexity of their terroir. Sashay on down to Jura (good name for a song?) and we find wonderful strangeness, native grape varieties, a wine that tastes like sherry, and majestic countryside. Swing west a little and we fall on the grand ballet of Burgundy, a firm hand in a velvet glove. Here there are illustrious names on our dance card, but we must demur and glide on.

The northern Rhone is grand opera, steep hillsides falling to the majestic river. Best to take a breather, nurse a Condrieu white or Cote Rotie red and watch the drama unfold as the night falls. The sun comes up and we swoon down to the southern Rhone. Feeling a little tap dance coming on as the exotic blends of grapes add zest to our zoot shoes. Sur le pont d’Avignon, on y danse – we dance on the bridge of Avignon, but take care, it only goes half way across the river these days. We can sense the salty Med now as we salsa through Provence. Ice cold rosé quenches our thirst.

Bordeaux smells: of history, old money, and old wine. As a counterpoint to the pomp and circumstance we opt for an English folk dance to commemorate a long and happy relationship founded by Henry II of England and his wife Eleanor of Acquitaine. We jig along the Médoc and startle Saint Emilion with our jangle.

We’re so intoxicated by great wines we hardly notice we have rumba’d north into the Loire Valley. I’ve almost run out of dance steps, which is unfortunate as the Loire stretches a long way and we need to keep our rhythm. Dry whites, sweet whites, rosés, rustic reds, sparklers – it’s a wine list made by angels. Let’s go free form!

Thank you in advance for the pleasure of your company, somewhere on this majestic dance floor.


Click on the Images or Text below to read more about each of the main wine regions of France.

Contact Me

For more information or to arrange your next tour with French Wine Tours, call John Sherwin on +33 (0)7 50 90 02 00

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