TheLoirevalley is one of the most striking places to visit. Travelling along theLoireriver you will encounter beautiful landscape with Chateaus on almost every corner – one more striking than the other. The journey takes you through the wines of the Loire valley beginning with the light and crisp Muscadets, the more richer and mellower Chenin Blancs of Anjouand Vouvrai to the well known Sancerre and Pouilly Fumées of upperLoire. There are some excellent reds as well, like Chinon andTourainefrom Cabernet Franc and red Sancerre made of Pinot Noir
Burgundy - Chablis
Chablis being the northern most part of Burgundy is well known for its stunning crisp white wines made from the Chardonnay grape. The secret behind the much loved style of wine is the unique combination of the cool climate and the soils; brimming with chalk and calcareous sediments. In fact you will find the same soils in the White Cliffs of Dover, Champagne and in Sancerre / Pouilly Fumé. A good Chablis will give you an aromatic sensation of the sea, and is the recommended wine with oysters. It is 4 levels of quality, all dependent on the soils and the exposure to the sun. Petit Chablis being from the poorest vineyards, then Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and the top ones; the Chablis Grand Cru.
Burgundy – Côte d’Or
Burgundy is regarded as one of the greatest wine areas of the world. Grape growing and quality wine making dates back to the early middle ages, and famous vineyards like Chambertin, Montrachet and Clos Vougeot are well known to any wine lover. The Côte d’Or is the stretch of land west of the river Sâone between Dijon in the north and Chalon-sur-Sâone with Beaune in the middle of the area. It consists of two parts; the Côte de Nuits in north and the Côte de Beaune in the south. In Côte de Nuits its mainly made red wines of the Pinot Noir grape and it is here you will find the great wines of Chambertin, Vougeot, Chambolle and Vosne Romanée. In the Côte de Beaune its made both white and reds, but it is the whites of the Chardonnay grape that is the most sought after. The Montrachets, Corton and Meursaults all bring good memories for any wine lover. Burgundy are often nick named the Garden of France due to its agricultural importance. Needless to say – this also reflects on the cuisine served on the numerous restaurants in the area.
Burgundy – Côte Chalonnaise / Mâcon
The area between Côte d’Or and Beaujolais. The soils are a bit different In composition and the climate is a bit warmer giving the wines a softer more mature fruitiness and less of the mineral character you will find further north. The most famous is the white wines of the Chardonnay grape from Pouilly Fuissé and Mâcon. A good Pouilly Fuissé is full bodied with a smooth style, lovely fruitiness and a elegant touch.
Burgundy – Beaujolais
Southernmost district of Burgundy, famous for producing one of the lightest and smoothest red wines inFrance. Delicious wines of the Gamay grape well suited for fish and white meats as the tannin levels are fairly low. Higher quality wines are mostly found in one of the cru’s; with Fleurie, Morgon and Julinéas being the most famous.
Champagne – just the name suggest celebration and fizzy wines of extraordinary quality. This historical important wine district is situated to the north ofFrance, consisting of three main regions; La Montagne de Reims, La Vallée de laMarneand La Côte des Blancs. TheChampagnedistrict is a beautiful spot on earth, with its swooping hills covered in vineyards and small picturesque villages in between. The sparkling wine is made of three grape varietals, the white Chardonnay and the two red grapes; Pinot Noir and Pinot Menuier.
The bubbles in the wine are made by letting the wine undergo a second fermentation in the bottle. This takes at least a year and is the secret behind the very fine and delicate bubbles that characterises wines fromChampagne.
Bordeauxis situated in the western part ofFrance. This region has always enjoyed close relations withGreat Britain. Many of theBordeauxestates are or have been owned by British aristocrats. The area are famous for producing some of the finest wines in the world. Among them we find top estates as Chateau Lafite-Rotschild, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Latour. Amongste the stunning sweet wines made inBordeaux, the Chateau d’Yquem is considered to be the world’s best sweet wine.Bordeauxconsists of three main areas situated alongside theGirondedelta and closely to the two rivers; La Dordogne and La Garonne. To the west of the townBordeauxwe will findMedoc. This area are scattered with great chateaux and grand estates. South of the town we will findGravesand Sauternes, the latter producing the famous sweet wine. To the east of the town Bordeaux we will find Entre-Deux-Mers, St.Emilion and Pomerol. The most important grape varietals of Bordeaux are the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion for the whites, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc for the reds.
Alsace is often referred to as an area bringing the best from the French and German culture together. It is the area on the western slopes of the Rhine River on the German border in the east, between the cities Strasbourg and Mulhouse. These slopes catch lots of sun and it fairly dry here as the rain tends to fall on the western side of the Vosges Mountains. The grapes grown here are all distinctive and are the Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Pinot Blanc and Gewürztraminer. The vineyards are divided into two quality levels; the regular Alsace appellation and the Grand Cru, which are the very best vineyards. These have the most varied soil composition and the best exposure to the sun.
Stretched from Vienne in the north almost toMarseillesin south theRhonevalley transforms from displaying vineyards on the steep slopes in Hermitage and Côte Rôtie to the soft and almost flat landscape of Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas. This area are home to some of the richest and most generous reds ofFrance. The wines of the northern part are dominated by the Syrah grape, giving classy wines suited for the richest and most tasty foods. In the southern part the Grenache, Mouvedre and Cinsault dominates giving rich mellow wines well suited for rich foods or just pure enjoyment.
Well known area betweenProvenceand the Spanish border. Wide variety in styles of wines but most are fruity, rich and soft. Previously dominated by mass production but nowadays quality wines as Corbieres, Minervois, Coteaux de Languedoc are loved and enjoyed by wine lovers and connoisseurs alike. If you are going on holiday toFrance– this area is hard to miss. The nature, various landscapes and the beautiful small towns mixed with a the real mediterranean cuisine of fresh produce and lots of herbs makes it likeFrancein an nut shell experience.
TheVenetodistrict are well known for not only splendid wines like Amarone, Valpolicella, Recioto and Bardolino, but also for being home to the ancient city ofVeneziaand the beautiful Garda lake. This is also where rice are commonly grown and risottos are a base of the cuisine.
At the base of the Alps the stunning landscape of Piedmont are stretched around the city ofTurin. Curvy hills covered with vines and small beautiful villages makes a perfect environment to enjoy the striking wines of the area. Barolo, Barbaresco and the barberas from Alba, the fizzy Moscato di Asti are some of the famous wines fromPiedmont. The cuisine are one of Italy’s finest and participating in the truffle hunting late in the autumn are a real treat for any foodie.
Tuscanyare for many the essence ofItaly. Stunning landscape with vineyards, olive farms and cypresses melts together with beautiful villages into pictures made for the canvas. The cuisine are the best of Italian treats with hams, dried sausages, pasta and vegetables. Famous wines from Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano all are superb and if you plan for a vacation inFlorence– remember that only a short drive from the city will bring you right into this wine and food landscape.
One of the best known and loved wine areas ofSpain. Situated at the foothills of the Pyrinees next to the Basque border the area are covered with vines producing mature grapes that centuries of tradition has turned into splendid wines ranging from fruity young wines to mature wines with presence of barrel ageing and long period in the dark cellars. The cuisine are splendid – try lamb chops grilled over old vines, grilled peppers and stunning asparagus.
Burgundyare one of the greatest wine areas of the world. Grape growing and quality wine making dates back to the early middle ages, and famous vineyards like Chambertin, Montrachet and Chablis are well known to any wine lover. Chablis are the most northern part of the area and are home to stylish whites made from the Chardonnay grape. Further south the wines are richer and you will find not only stunning whites but excellent reds as well.Burgundyare often nick named theGardenofFrancedue to it’s agricultural importance. Needless to say – this also reflects on the cuisine served on the numerous restaurants in the area.
The US is the fourth largest wine producing country in the world and has been producing wine since the 17th century. The largest wine producing area in the US is the West Coast with California (counting for 89% of the US production), Washington and Oregon. New York also produces quite a bit of wine, mostly in the Five Finger Lakes area. Over the years the quality of wines from the US have become very high and are getting awards and beating European counterparts in several competitions. The most popular grapes are Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio for whites and Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot and Pinot Noir for reds. Some of the finest wines of the world can be found in California such as Harlan Estate, Ridge and Opus One. Generally you will find the best Cabernets in California and the best Pinot Noirs in Orgeon.
Argentina being the fifth largest wine produce r in the world has over the last centuries gone through a quality change with increased focus on creating quality over quantity. For many wine lovers Argentina is synonymous to Mendoza, the high altitude planes at the foot of the Andes. This area has become famous for its top quality Malbec wines, which brings out the best in the grape just at the high altitude vineyards. Other popular grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Syrah for reds, and the Torrontes (often regarded as the indigenous grape of Argentina), Chardonnay, Semillion and Viognier for whites.
Chile is a country stretching almost ¾ the length of the entire continent. It covers several climate zones – all the way from the Atacama Desert in the north to glaciers in the South. The wine producing areas are on a 800-mile stretch of land from Atacama Region just north of Santiago to the Bio-Bio region in the south. The climate is hot and dry in the North and it gets wetter and milder as you travel south. The secret behind the quality of the Chilean wines is the warm sunny days and the low temperature at night, creating an average temperature closer to California than you should expect of the latitude. It is a lot of top European producers, especially from Bordeaux, having bought vineyards in Chile to set up expansion here. This is resulting in a affinity for Bordeaux style red wines, and the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is very popular. The Carmenere grape also produces top wine and is gaining in popularity. For whites it’s the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that dominates, but Rieslings and Gewürztraminer are in growth, especially in the South.
In the olden days South Africa was mostly known for the sweet Muscat wine from Constantia. But nowadays South Africa is a serious wine country making some of the world’s finest wines. In 1918 growers in the Western Cape founded a cooperative; KWV, which dominated the South African wine industry until end of apartheid. After the apartheid ended the import boycotts from many major western markets was lifted and the quality boom in South Africa started. Flying winemakers from other wine making areas contributed to the international style of the wines we drink today. The most significant wine producing areas are all found in the Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate. The most significant are Stellenbbosch, Constantia, Paarl and Franschoek Valley. Popular grapes are of course the white Steen (Chenin blanc) and the Pinotage (a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault). Other grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz for reds and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Australian wine producing areas are mostly found in the south-eastern part of the continent, and some in the south-western part. The most well-known being Barossa and Coonawarra in South Australia, Yarra Valley in Victoria, Hunter Valley in New South Wales and Margareth River in South Western Australia. The island of Tasmania produces some excellent sparkling wines and crisp whites. The most popular grape for white wine is by far Chardonnay, which dominates the production. Others are Sèmillion, Sauvignon Lbanc and Riesling. Shiraz is the most popular grape for red wine in Australia with Cabernet Sauvignon following closely. Others are Merlot with some Pinot Noir, Grenache and Mouvedre. The GSM blends have proven popular in Australia and are wines made by blending Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre into a Southern Rhône style wine, like a Châteauneuf du Pape.
New Zealand consists largely of two islands which are situated a bit farther south than Australia. This means cooler climate and ideal conditions for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, the two grape varietals that have become synonymous to a New Zealand Wine. It is 10 major wine producing areas stretching all the way from north to south, but the Hawke’s bay and Wellington on the north island and the Martinborough and Marlborough on the south island are considered the most important. The soils of New Zealand is mostly alluvial with some limestone and schist. Apart from the Pinot and the Sauvignon, most of the wines are blends. Most popular is wine blended from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, or some variation with Temopranillo and Sangiovese. New Zealand also makes excellent sparkling wine from the Methode Traditionelle.