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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. Joseph Perrier, Vintage Blanc de Noir, 2009

    Joseph Perrier, Vintage Blanc de Noirs, 2009 75cl

    An exceptional Blanc de Noir, made using 100% Pinot Noir sourced from a single parcel grapes from Premier Cru vineyards. It is then bottle aged for 6 years before release which gives the wine exceptional complexity and depth of flavour.

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    £55.28
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    £65.15
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    £46.07
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    £54.29
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  2. Joseph Perrier, Vintage Blanc de Blancs, 2006

    Joseph Perrier, Vintage Blanc de Blancs, 2010 75cl

    Made entirely from the Chardonnay grape it is the minerality that sets this apart from the rest of the JP range. Its great strength is the way that it combine a light body with great complexity, with toasty elegance and a lemony finish. Superb!

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    £56.12
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    £60.00
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    £46.77
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    £50.00
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  3. Baron de Beaupre, Rosé

    Baron de Beaupre, Rosé 75cl

    A delicate, easy drinking rose, displaying light floral aromas with subtle red cherry fruit on the palate.

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    £27.68
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    £31.00
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    £23.07
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    £25.83
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  4. Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale (Magnum)

    Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale (Magnum) 150cl

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

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    £60.23
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    £70.20
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    £50.19
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    £58.50
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  5. Fleurie President Marguerite, Cave de Fleurie

    Fleurie Presidente Marguerite, Cave de Fleurie, 2016 75cl

    The lightest of the Beaujolais Cru's. A wine with intense black fruit aromas which pairs delightfully with charcuterie.

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    £11.52
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    £13.10
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    £9.60
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    £10.92
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  6. Moulin a Vent, Domaine Richard Rottiers

    Moulin a Vent, Domaine Richard Rottiers, 2016 75cl

    Light on the palate with fresh dark berry fruit accompanying a soft minerality.

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    £19.26
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    £21.00
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    £16.05
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    £17.50
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  7. Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot, Bachey Legros

    Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot, Bachey Legros, 2015 75cl

    A superb example of classic Burgundy. Wonderful flowery aromas with hints of lemon and pear with subtle toast. Great depth and minerals with a balanced long finish. Wonderful!

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    £38.22
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    £41.00
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    £31.85
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    £34.17
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  8. Pouilly Fuissé Vielles Vignes, Collovray-Terrier

    Pouilly Fuissé Vielles Vignes, Collovray-Terrier 2015 75cl

    Aromas of apple and hints of something more topical make way on a medium bodied palate for a splash of minerality. The finish has a soft complexity and good length.

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    £20.82
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    £23.05
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    £17.35
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    £19.21
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  9. Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru, Louis Latour

    Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru, Louis Latour, 2010 75cl

    With a purple hue this Grand Cru exhales aromas of cassis, saffron and earthiness. In the mouth the tannins envelop a lovely cherry fruitiness and are powerful yet silky.

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    £96.06
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    £100.00
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    £80.05
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    £83.33
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  10. Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Domaine Parent,

    Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Domaine Parent, 2014 75cl

    This Bourgogne has an eloquent, fruity bouquet displaying hints of strawberry and cherry. Well-balanced and smooth, this is a delicious, easy-drinking wine.

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    £18.06
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    £20.00
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    £15.05
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    £16.67
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  11. Nuits Saint Georges, Domaine Jean Chauvenet

    Nuits Saint Georges, Domaine Jean Chauvenet, 2015 75cl

    Fresh and intense Nuits St Georges with aromas of wet soil and red fruits. The palate is rich and intense with red berry dominance and liquorice supporting. The finish is elegant. These flavours will harmonise over time, adding to the complexity. 

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    £34.74
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    £41.70
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    £28.95
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    £34.75
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  12. Château Kirwan, Margaux

    Chateau Kirwan 2000 75cl

    Limited stocks

    Classic high quality claret that has plenty of aging potential due to its balance of delicate subtlety and sturdy structure. The palate is complex and the finish lasting but the best is still to come from this vintage.

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    £107.10
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    £115.15
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    £89.25
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    £95.96
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