There is more quality wine produced in France than anywhere else: it may not be the world’s largest wine producer, that accolade falls to Italy, but it is unarguably the best. A generally benign, if often capricious, climate with many different micro-climates and a large range of soils, in short, much good ‘terroir’, creates excellent conditions for vine growing.
French AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée)
The industry is highly regulated, some would say over regulated, by the appellation controllée system but, whilst this is open to criticism, there is little doubt that it has worked wonders in maintaining consistently high levels of quality over the years. Add centuries of tradition and expertise and it is easy to see why French wine making is such a success story.
French Wine Regions
Renowned regions such as Champagne, Burgundy and especially Bordeaux have done much to build the reputation of French wines abroad, with many of their top estates sprinkling stardust on the wine industry as a whole. Probably, however, the real strength of the French wine world lies in the huge number of smaller family properties. Producers in the Rhône, Loire, Alsace alongside the southern France often only own a few hectares, which lie in nooks and valleys, and cling to many a hill side. Here, not only the land has been handed down from generation to generation but the understanding and love of what they do has been passed on as well. These are the true unsung heroes of French wine culture. There are challenges ahead, not least a climate that is getting warmer and increasing competition from other parts of the world. But France has natural advantages that give it a heads start so, for the moment at least, their position is unassailable.