UKV PLC's Guide to French Wine

Taking on a subject as deep as French wine can seem like a daunting task. Even the most experienced connoisseurs can get overwhelmed by the often complex nature of wine production and labeling in France. To get a better grasp of the subject, beginners must understand a few basics.

According to UKV PLC, novices should start off by getting acquainted with the French appellation system. Most wine lovers are used to seeing the grape variety printed on the label. However, French wines are labeled by region of origin. The controlled place name will be identified as part of a government-regulated classification system that defines the grape varieties and winemaking practices for the appellation. Appellation d'origine contrôlée is the highest quality of classification.

The idea that the specific region plays a vital role in the resulting wine comes from the French concept of terroir. This notion refers to how climate, soil, altitude, topography and local tradition give a wine its unique character. A French sommelier may argue that where a wine is produced is just as important as what type of grape is used. While wonderful wines are produced all over France, beginners should be aware of a few notable regions.

Burgundy

Most regions focus on producing either red or white wine. In Burgundy, however, both varieties are equally important. Burgundy reds are Pinot noir varieties known for having complex, earthy notes. Chardonnay grapes are used for Burgundy whites, which tend to have mineral and light fruit flavors. As an eastern region that has been cultivated by winemakers for centuries, Burgundy has a legendary reputation for its vineyards. Some local wines, such as the highly prized Côte de Beaune Chardonnay, demand high prices.

Bordeaux

As a region located on the Atlantic coast, Bordeaux has a long tradition of transporting wines to foreign countries. Most vineyards in the area produce medium-body reds that are blends of different grapes. Depending on the appellation, a bottle of Bordeaux may contain Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Merlot. Since Bordeaux is a large region with around 10,000 producers, local wines can range from affordable to pricey.

Champagne

While you may have had sparkling wine before, you've never enjoyed Champagne unless the bottle came from the region in northeastern France. Bubbly wines that come from other areas are technically called crémant. The difference between standard crémant and true Champagne lies in the production method. Since the high-altitude Champagne region has a cold climate, local winemakers have historically used a double-fermentation process. Not all producers in Champagne continue to use this traditional method; however, the region's terroir is present in all local wines.

Loire

Perhaps the most diverse region for French wine production is Loire. The 87 appellations located along the Loire River in northeastern France produce almost every kind of wine. Loire producers that are closer to the ocean are known for turning out Muscadet, a light-bodied white wine. Vineyards in Upper Loire tend to specialize in Sauvignon blanc and Chenin blanc.

Buying Wine Through UKV PLC

As a country that produces about 8 billion bottles of wine a year, France is home to a variety of unique appellations. Wine lovers looking to enjoy all that the country has to offer may be best served by a supplier such as UKV PLC. The expert consultants at UKV PLC have a deep understanding of French wine. They are familiar with everything from wine pairings to the best times of year to make a purchase.

As an independent wine company, UKV PLC is not connected to a limited supply chain. This allows for a greater access to valuable fine wines. Whether you enjoy the pleasure of drinking or investing in lucrative wine collections, UKV PLC can help you reach your goal.

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