Wine Tasting In The Old World: Discovering FranceOne Giant Step
Photo Credit: Samuel Belknap
The most famous wine region in the world, France is inextricably connected with what many (rightly) consider to be the ambrosia of the gods. The country has some of the most beautiful and robust vineyards in the world, whose terroirs have produced fine wine for centuries. So, whether you’re a connoisseur or prefer only the occasional quaff, visiting France is an opportunity to lunch, learn and more importantly: taste the new and vintage wines for sale.
Beginning in a region that has one of the highest concentrations of vineyards, Bordeaux sits alongside the Garonne river. Perhaps the most famous vineyards lie to the north and include the Medoc, which is known for its rich Cabernet Sauvignons that have excellent aging potential. A pairing speciality with wine in Bordeaux is duck, including foie gras, which you’ll see everywhere on restaurant menus and in shop windows.
Moving north, the incredible Loire Valley, aka the “Garden of France”, is great for visitors with families because it’s packed with more than just vineyards, that is, historic towns and monuments or châteaux and row-upon-row of fruit orchards (including sumptuous cherries) and asparagus fields. The Loire Valley is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which goes some way to valuing its significant architectural heritage.
In the Champagne region in the north western part of the country, you’ll come across plenty of vineyards packed into a relatively small space, which means you can visit several in a single day (depending on how much bubbly you can stomach!). Champagne, which uses primarily Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes, requires secondary fermentation to create those delicious little bubbles. Don’t be put off by the wealth, though, as naturally the region that provides inspiration for toasts all around the world is glamorous!
In the centre-east is another well-known name, Burgundy (a wine that became a colour), on the slopes of the Saône River, which is a tributary of the famous and beautiful Rhône. Fragmented into four adjacent districts, with a fifth that lies away to the south, Burgundy rivals Bordeaux among France’s great wine producers and its dry Pinot Noirs and rich Chardonnays are cherished worldwide.
For those who don’t know a lot about wine and who, when faced with hundreds of vineyards in a new region, feel a bit overwhelmed, book a tour with one of many companies operating in the area. You can taste the best of the best during the day and enjoy locally cooked food – introduced by friendly and knowledgeable guides. If you want to venture off the beaten track, reserve a few days at the end of your stay to go where your heart desires!