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France

The influence of France's vine growing prowess cannot be denied. Its geographic range, coupled to tradition and confidence has lead to its prominence in setting the benchmark for wine across the world. The defining feature of French wines is terroir, a combination of environmental factors which give the wines character and style. 

The influence of France's vine growing prowess cannot be denied. Its geographic range, coupled to tradition and confidence has lead to its prominence in setting the benchmark for wine across the world. The defining feature of French wines is terroir, a combination of environmental factors which give the wines character and... read more.

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Grapes

France is famed for producing Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,Pinot Noir, Syrah and many other varieties of grape that still, arguably, achieve their ultimate expression here.  It is also home to Cognac and Armagnac, the finest of brandies, and the famous apple brandy of Calvados.

History

The Greeks brought viticulture to France's Mediterranean coast in about 600BC. During Roman occupation, the vine spread along two main routes: west to Garonne/ Bordeaux and north through the Rhone Valley. After the Roman Emprire collapsed the Church became the most important land owners and producers, especially in Burgundy, Loire Valley and Champagne. The political changes in the 18th Century didn't affect the wine trade per se, however changes to the religious oders had significant impacts on land ownership. Bordeaux saw a boom in wealth and growth as foreign trade blossomed, not least with the French West Indies. The 1855 classification system was introduced, bringing more uniform standards. 

The Classification System

The current Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system was introduced in 1930's and is founded on the principle that defined geographic location is responsible for the unique character and flavour of individual French wines. There are three levels to the AOC: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), Vin de Pays (VdP) and Vin de Table (VdT). The quality standards are highest in AOC wines, covering details including vine yield, minimum alcohol levels and of course grape varieties and apellation boundaries. Grand Cru and Premier Cru sit within AOC. This compares to VdT were neither grape variety, vintage ore region are required on the label.

Climate and Terroir

The diversity of France's climate relates to its plethora of styles and the main wine regions fall into three climatic zones. Bordeaux, Loire Valley and the Southwest are within the maritime climate, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The South of France and southern Rhone Valley are under a Mediterranean climate while northern Rhone, Burgundy, Alsace and Champagne fall into a continental influence. The climate, wine style and gastronomy are all tightly woven together and to unpick them require much more time and room on the page than is allowed!

If the region defines the style of the wine, terroir is responsible for all the fine tuning.  It's the crucial combination of environmental factors such as microclimate, soil type and topography. It's an underpinning principle in the classification system and endless source of debate.

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  1. Alain des Arbres, Carte Noire

    Alain des Arbres, Carte Noire 75cl

    Exclusive to Weavers of Nottingham

    Creamy mousse with rich, delicate fruit flavours. A delightful champagne which has fullness and depth.

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    £21.32
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    £21.74
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    £17.77
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    £18.12
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  2. Baron de Beaupre, Brut

    Baron de Beaupre, Brut 75cl

    A refreshing and appealing champagne with soft character on the finish.

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    £21.08
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    £23.00
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    £17.57
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    £19.17
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  3. Bollinger, Special Cuvée

    Bollinger, Special Cuvée 75cl

    Superbly balanced and tremendously elegant champagne with a fine depth and flavour.

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    £40.09
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    £40.00
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    £33.41
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    £33.33
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  4. Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Brut

    Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Brut 75cl

    This is a lovely fruity champagne with superb freshness which is balanced, elegant and has a wonderfully vibrant finish.

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    £30.74
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    £35.00
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    £25.62
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    £29.17
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  5. Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Demi-Sec

    Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Demi-Sec 75cl

    A classic medium dry champagne, displaying rich citrus fruit characters on the nose and a lingering finish on the palate.

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    £30.74
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    £35.00
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    £25.62
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    £29.17
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  6. Pol Roger, Brut Reserve

    Pol Roger, Brut Reserve 75cl

    This superb quality champagne is ideal for every occasion. It has a certain feminine quality given by equal proportions of Pinot Noir / Meunier and Chardonnay.

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    £41.18
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    £42.14
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    £34.32
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    £35.12
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  7. Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs

    Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs 75cl

    A suave, delicate, well-balanced Champagne made exclusively from the Chardonnay Grape. Striking on the palate with delicious hints of apricots and nectarines.

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    £58.70
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    £65.00
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    £48.92
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    £54.17
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  8. Taittinger Brut

    Thienot, Brut 75cl

    A stunning Champagne with a rich aromas of citrus and creamy honey. Lively and balanced on the palate with length and depth on the finish.

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    £32.48
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    £35.15
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    £27.07
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    £29.29
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  9. Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Vintage, 2002

    Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Vintage, 2002 75cl

    Green gold in colour with the aroma of pear, peach and a touch of spice. Well balanced on the palate with a delicate finish.

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    £47.98
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    £53.75
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    £39.98
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    £44.79
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  10. Thienot, Cuvée Alain, Brut Vintage

    Thienot, Cuvée Alain, Brut Vintage 2002 75cl

    Exemplifying the trademark savoir-faire and exacting standards synonymous with the Champagne House, Cuvée Alain Thiénot is a stunning blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Only crafted in outstanding years, this is exceptional Champagne of great complexity and perfect harmony.

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    £60.08
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    £68.65
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    £50.07
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    £57.21
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  11. Bollinger, La Grande Annee Vintage, 2005

    Bollinger, La Grande Année, 2005 75cl

    This was a fantastic year for Champagne and this is no exception. Mouth-filling, long-lasting, complex, nutty, creamy, buttery, and bold. An outstanding Champagne that is an absolute joy.

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    £80.02
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    £87.74
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    £66.68
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    £73.12
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  12. Pol Roger, Vintage 2004

    Pol Roger, Vintage 2006 75cl

    Absolutely delicious stuff, so approachable and easy-going and yet clearly of very fine, well-defined quality too. A seductive nose with notes of almonds and white peach. A bright, lively palate yet creamy and soft.

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    £69.44
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    £76.00
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    £57.87
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    £63.33
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