Europe

Three Perfect Destinations for French Wine Lovers

Viticulture is a vital component of France’s national identity. As a nation, France produces more wine than any other country in the world, with the occasional and notable exception of Italy. For passionate connoisseurs and newcomers alike, Bourgogne, Bordeaux and the Rhône stand out as remarkable destinations to immerse yourself in French wine culture.
Lights luminescents on a Glass of Red Wine
Bourgogne/Burgundy

Archaeological evidence suggests that Burgundy’s wine culture predates the Roman Empire. Subsequent involvement in viticulture by the Church led many labels to adopt the names of religious orders like Saternay, Chambertain, Meursault or Pommard.

The small town of Beaune is home to some of the best labels in France and is a gorgeous spot from which to explore Burgundy as a whole. The Côte-d’Or department town of 22,000 people is the de facto wine capital of the region.
P1130045 Chateau de Vougeot in Borgogna
Legend has it that the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines made in Beaune were so good that the Catholic Church took over all the vineyards and production in the region. Indeed, many of the wine-making facilities are in old monasteries.

Wine enthusiasts in Burgundy can educate themselves on the region at local wine museums, take wine-tasting lessons from seasoned sommeliers and purchase vintage bottles from local shops and producers.
P1130043 Vigneti di Chateau de Vougeot in Borgogna
Burgundy offers many cheap hotels as well as charming villas, surrounded by vineyards that stretch out as far as the eyes can see.

Bordeaux
Vineyards!
With over 115,000 hectares of vineyards and some 8,000 châteaux, or producers, Bordeaux is the top wine region in France. High-end estates like Pétrus, Cheval Blanc, Mouton Rothschild and Haut-Brion flourish in Bordeaux and rank as some of the most expensive wines in the world. Hotels in Bordeaux offer the best advice on where to go and when.
Bordeaux
The UNESCO World Heritage City of Bordeaux is the superb capital of the region. Recent efforts by Mayor Alain Juppé to revitalize the city’s historic architectural landscape have been met with near-universal approval. Wine lovers should definitely tour Les Chartrons, a famous neighborhood rife with knowledgeable wine merchants.

Rhône
Beaujolais vineyard on our hike
Home to exquisite appellations like Côte-Rôtie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the Rhône Valley has a wine history that can be traced back to at least 600 BC. The two most popular grape varieties cultivated in the northern Rhône are Syrah (red) and Viognier (white). Wines produced from these grapes impart special characteristics highly appreciated by connoisseurs around the world.
IMG_5088
In addition to the northern Rhône, the other sub-regions of the southern Rhône and Côtes du Rhône proffer a wide range of magnificent appellations to discover. Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC is in the southern Rhône for one and while a modest area, Côtes du Rhône Grenache vines produce some quality rosés.

All in all, the Rhône valley offers some of the most bucolic scenery in France and indeed, some of the most extraordinary wine and food experiences.

12 Comments for "Three Perfect Destinations for French Wine Lovers"

Roger Stanley says on August 2nd, 2010 at 12:47 am:

Don’t do twitter. But would like to know of any coach tours in those wonderful wine regions.
Roger

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