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France

The influence of France's vine growing prowess cannot be denied. It's geographic range, coupled to tradition and confidence has lead to it's 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. It's geographic range, coupled to tradition and confidence has lead to it's 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 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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  2. Chablis, Alain Bretin

    Chablis, Alain Bretin, 2015 75cl

    Light in colour, yet full in body and weight. This elegant wine has a good steely acidity, the typical young Chardonnay bouquet of lemons, and a lasting finish.

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  3. Chablis, Albert Bichot

    Chablis, Albert Bichot, 2016 75cl

    A very young style Chablis jam packed with fresh, green apples and hints of citrus. A firm, refreshing mineral backbone runs through the palate and on to a satisfyingly long finish.

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  4. Chablis Domaine des Manants, Jean-Marc Brocard

    Chablis Domaine des Manants, Jean-Marc Brocard, 2017 75cl

    An excellent flinty, mineral fruit style typical of the Chardonnay grape from Chablis.

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  5. Chablis, Domaine des Malandes

    Chablis, Domaine des Malandes, 2017 75cl

    Expressing aromas of crisp fruit, there is plenty of citrus and green apple flavour followed by a rich mineral finish. A pure expression of the terroir of the region.

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    £16.74
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  6. Chablis Premier Cru Vau de Vey Domaine des Malandes

    Chablis Premier Cru Vau de Vey Domaine des Malandes, 2016 75cl

    Classic Premier Cru Chablis with floral notes lifting above a rich minerality on the palate. There is some crisp apple fruit here too that combines well to bring superb balance.

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  7. 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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  8. Julienas, Domaine Joubert

    Julienas, Domaine Joubert, 2014 75cl

    A fine Cru Beaujolais made from the Gamay grape. Round and light with flavours reminiscent of fresh redcurrant.

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    £10.32
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  9. Bourgogne Aligoté, Familé Brocard,

    Bourgogne Aligoté, Familé Brocard, 2017 75cl

    After Chardonnay, Aligoté is the second white grape variety of Burgundy. Floral, lemony and crisp, this is a brisk and refreshing wine from the Aligoté grape variety.

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  10. Macon Chardonnay, Cuvée Joseph Talmard

    Macon Chardonnay, Cuvée Joseph Talmard, 2017 75cl

    Traditional style Chardonnay from Burgundy. Rich and buttery with subtle, exotic flavours.

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  11. Château Reuilles Sauvignon

    Château Reuilles Sauvignon, 2017 75cl

    Intense notes of citrus fruit and accacia on the nose with the classic gooseberry finish of Sauvignon Blanc. 

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  12. Château Rahoul, Graves

    Château Rahoul, Graves, 2011 75cl

    An interesting nose of red fruit, dark cherries and smoke is joined by leather and black fruit on the palate. The tannins are still quite supple and may benefit from a couple of years further ageing.

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