French wine regions.
Alsace is primarily a white-wine region, though some red, rosé, sparkling and sweet wines are also produced. It is situated in eastern France on the river Ill and borders Germany, a country with which it shares many grape varieties as well as a long tradition of varietal labelling. Grapes grown in Alsace include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Muscat.
Beaujolais is primarily a red-wine region generally made from the Gamay grape, though some white and sparkling rosé are also produced. It is situated in central East of France following the river Saone below Burgundy and above Lyon. There are 12 appellations in Beaujolais including Beaujolais AOC and Beaujolais-Villages AOC and 10 Crus: Brouilly, Regnié, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie, Saint-Amour, Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent. The Beaujolais region is also notorious for the Beaujolais Nouveau, a popular vin de primeur which is released annually on the third Thursday of November.
Bordeaux is a large region on the Atlantic coast, which has a long history of exporting its wines overseas. This is primarily a red wine region, famous for the wines Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Mouton-Rothschild, Château Margaux and Château Haut-Brion from the Médoc sub-region; Château Cheval Blanc and Château Ausone in Saint-Émilion; and Château Pétrus and Château Le Pin in Pomerol. The red wines produced are usually blended, from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and sometimes Cabernet Franc. Bordeaux also makes dry and sweet white wines, including some of the world's most famous sweet wines from the Sauternes appellation, such as Château d'Yquem.
Burgundy or Bourgogne in eastern France is a region where red and white wines are equally important. Probably more terroir-conscious than any other region, Burgundy is divided into the largest number of appellations of any French region. The top wines from Burgundy's heartland in Côte d'Or command high prices. The Burgundy region is divided in four main parts:
The Cote de Nuits (from Marsannay-La-Cote down to Nuits-Saint-Georges)
The Cote de Beaune (from north of Beaune to Santenay)
The Cote Chalonnaise
Two parts of Burgundy that are sometimes considered as separate regions are:
Beaujolais in the south, close to the Rhône Valley region, where mostly red wines are made in a fruity style that is usually consumed young. "Beaujolais Nouveau" is the only wine that can be legally consumed in the year of its production (Third week end of November)
Chablis, halfway between Côte d'Or and Paris, where white wines are produced on chalky soil giving a more crisp and steely style than the rest of Burgundy.
There are two main grape varieties used in Burgundy – Chardonnay for white wines, and Pinot Noir for red. White wines are also sometimes made from Aligoté, and other grape varieties will also be found occasionally.
Champagne, situated in eastern France, close to Belgium and Luxembourg, is the coldest of France's major wine regions and home to its major sparkling wine. Champagne wines can be both white and rosé. A small amount of still wine is produced in Champagne (as AOC Coteaux Champenois) of which some can be red wine.
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean the wines of which are primarily consumed on the island itself. It has nine AOC regions and an island-wide vin de pays designation and is still developing its production methods as well as its regional style.
Jura, a small region in the mountains close to Switzerland where some unique wine styles, notably Vin Jaune and Vin de Paille, are produced. The region covers six appellations and is related to Burgundy through its extensive use of the Burgundian grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, though other varieties are used. It also shares cool climate with Burgundy.
Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest region in terms of vineyard surface and production, hence the region in which much of France's cheap bulk wines have been produced. So-called "wine lake", Languedoc-Roussillon is also the home of some innovative producers who combine traditional French wine like blanquette de Limoux, the world's oldest sparkling wine, and international styles while using lessons from the New World. Much Languedoc-Roussillon wine is sold as Vin de Pays d'Oc.
Loire valley is a primarily white-wine region that stretches over a long distance along the Loire River in central and western France, and where grape varieties and wine styles vary along the river. Four sub-regions are situated along the river:
Upper Loire is known for its Sauvignon Blanc, producing wines such as Sancerre AOC, but also consisting of several VDQS areas;
Touraine produces cold climate-styled white wines (dry, sweet or sparkling) from Chenin Blanc in Vouvray AOC and red wines from Cabernet Franc in Bourgueil AOC and Chinon AOC;
Anjou-Saumur is similar to the Tourain wines with respect to varieties, but the dry Savennières AOC and sweet Coteaux du Layon AOC are often more powerful than their upstream neighbours. Saumur AOC and Saumur-Champigny AOC provides reds; and
Pays Nantais is situated closest to the Atlantic, and Muscadet AOC produces white wines from the Melon de Bourgogne grape.
Provence, in the south-east and close to the Mediterranean. It is perhaps the warmest wine region of France and produces mainly rosé and red wine. It covers eight major appellations led by the Provence flagship, Bandol. Some Provence wine can be compared with the Southern Rhône wines as they share both grapes and, to some degree, style and climate. Provence also has a classification of its most prestigious estates, much like Bordeaux.
Rhone Valley, primarily a red-wine region in south-eastern France, along the Rhône River. The styles and varietal composition of northern and southern Rhône differ, but both parts compete with Bordeaux as traditional producers of red wines.
South West France or Sud-Ouest, a somewhat heterogeneous collection of wine areas inland or south of Bordeaux. Some areas produce primarily red wines in a style reminiscent of red Bordeaux, while other produce dry or sweet white wines. Areas within Sud-Ouest include among other:
Bergerac and other areas of upstream Dordogne;
Areas of upstream Garonne, including Cahors;
Areas in Gascony, also home to the production of Armagnac, Madiran, Côtes de Gascogne, Côtes de Saint-Mont, Pacherenc du Vic-Bilh and Tursan;
Béarn, such as Jurançon; and
Basque Country areas, such as Irouléguy.
There are also several smaller production areas situated outside these major regions. Many of those are VDQS wines, and some, particularly those in more northern locations, are remnants of production areas that were once larger.