Overview of the French Wine Region

Situated in the heart of Western Europe, France shares its borders with a host of countries, including Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Andorra, and Monaco. It faces the United Kingdom across the English Channel in the northwest and is bordered by the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea. The largest French island, Corsica, is a notable feature. The terrain is high in the southeast and low in the northwest, with plains making up two-thirds of the total area.

Main Grape Varieties

France is renowned for its cultivation of a wide variety of grapes. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Gamay, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Semillon, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Main Producing Areas

The country’s main wine-producing regions are Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, Loire Valley, Champagne, Alsace, Provence, Corsica, Languedoc Roussillon, Jura, Savoie, and the Southwest region.


The climate varies across the country. The western region, due to its relatively high altitude and the influence of the Gulf Stream, has a marine temperate broad-leaved forest climate. The southern part has a subtropical Mediterranean climate, while the central and eastern regions have a continental climate.

Overview of the French Wine Region


With the exception of a few production areas, gravel and clay make up the majority of the soil composition in most production areas.

The history of wine in France dates back to around 600 BC, when the Greeks arrived in what is now the Marseille region of France, bringing with them vines and viticulture. In 51 BC, Caesar conquered the Gaul region, and formal vine cultivation began here. In the 1st century AD, the first grapes were planted in the Rhone Valley in southern France, and in the 2nd century, they reached the Bordeaux area. As the grape-growing area continued to expand north in the 3rd century AD, Bordeaux and Burgundy began to produce wine for the wine market that was in short supply. In the 6th century AD, with the rise of the church, the demand for wine increased sharply, coupled with the rich’s demand for high-quality wine, which accelerated the pace of development of the French wine industry. During the Middle Ages, wine developed into a major French export. In the 19th century, French grape acreage hit a record high. In 1855, the Paris International Exposition carried out the famous chateau classification of French wine, which promoted French fine wine to the world.

Even if there are places in the world with the same longitude and latitude as France, it is difficult to replicate the same unique flavor. The French take great pride in their unique and varied climate and soils, the microclimates that result in the variety and excellence of French wines today.

France has brewed the best wines in the world. This is undisputed. Every top wine brewed by the French is a model for winemakers all over the world. Perfectly blended together to produce wines of unspeakable excellence. At present, France accounts for almost 80% of the top 100 wines in the world that are most worthy of collection and investment and are talked about by sommeliers. Take it to the head of France.

Of course, the development of French wine has not always been smooth, and it has also suffered heavy losses. In the 19th century, Europeans were so enthusiastic about collecting plant samples from North America that they infected French grapes with powdery mildew, causing a sharp decline in both quantity and quality. Later, phylloxera attacked France and almost destroyed the entire French vine. Downy mildew and black rot did not end their troubles for the French wine industry until the beginning of the 20th century.

There are currently thirteen wine-producing regions in France, among which the most well-known are  Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne. Bordeaux is famous for producing full-bodied red wine; Burgundy is famous for producing light and elegant red wine and refreshing and elegant white wine; and the Champagne region produces world-famous, elegant, and romantic sparkling wine.

Today, according to the statistics of the World Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), French wine production in 2013 was 42 million liters, ranking third in the world, second only to Italy and Spain.

Wine Regulations

France has strict legal protection for its wines and implements the origin control naming system, that is, the AOC system. AOC is the abbreviation of Appellation d’Origine Controllee, which is translated into Chinese and named for the control of origin. The wine label is expressed as Appellation, production area name, and controllee.

France began to implement the AOC system in 1935 to prevent producers from speculating on the name of the wine and to ensure that winemakers and vineyards meet certain quality requirements. This protection system divides wine into four grades: daily table wine (VDT, accounting for 11.7%), regional table wine (VDP, accounting for 33.9%), excellent regional table wine (VDQS, accounting for 0.9%), and AOC wine (AOC, accounting for 53.4%). Each province has a tradition of making wine. The French “Denomination of Origin Supervision Agency” provides consumers with a reliable guarantee for the source and quality of wine. This system has a profound impact not only on France but even on the whole world.

Although the AOC system cannot completely guarantee the quality of the wine the brewer produces, it can still control the majority of the variables throughout the entire planting and brewing process. Implementing the strict quality standards that the AOC system mandates allows for this control. These strict requirements have the following seven aspects:

  1. Soil definition: the area of ​​the entire winery soil area that can be used for grape cultivation is based on records of planting and related events over the centuries, such as soil properties, soil configuration, and altitude. and slope, etc.;
  2. Grape varieties: the definition of varieties is based on their respective geographical locations and historical data, which distinguishes which grape varieties perform best under what soil and climate conditions;
  3. The number of plants planted on the land, pruning techniques and fertilization measures;
  4. Yield license: Because high yield will reduce the quality of grapes, in order to ensure quality and strictly control harvest yield, a maximum yield is set for each AC. In the same area, higher AOC requirements are higher than those of lower AOCs for unit yield, and the requirements for grape sugar content at harvest will be higher, so generally speaking, the quality is higher. For example, in Bordeaux, the unit yield of Appellation Haut-Medoc Controllee is required to be less than 5,000 liters per hectare, while the unit yield of Appellation Pauillac Controllee is required to be less than 4,500 liters per hectare.
  5. Alcohol content: All AC must guarantee the minimum alcohol content standard, which means that the grapes must reach a certain degree of maturity (guarantee a certain sugar content), and have enough aroma and taste substances, although in some areas it is allowed In the process of brewing wine, adding sugar to grape juice has reached the required alcohol (CHAPTALIZE).
  6. Brewing practice: Each AC has a set of traditional rules based on the traditional winemaking history combined with the winemaking process;
  7. Official evaluation: Since 1979, all typical wine samples have been evaluated to apply for AOC. AOC is only allowed to be used on the wine label if the above seven conditions are met.

In August 2009, in order to match the labeling form of European wines, a reform took place in the classification of French wines. The following is the new grade system, and the products that will be bottled and produced starting January 1, 2011 will use the new grade mark.

AOC wines (AOC wines) become AOP wines (Appellation d’Origine Protégée). VDP wines (regional table wines) become IGP wines (Indication Géographique Protégée). VDT wine (Japanese table wine) becomes VDF wine (VIN DE FRANCE), which belongs to wine without IG, which means wine without a production area hint on the wine label (vin sans Indication Géographique). VDQS ceased to exist as of 2012.

Leave a comment