Top wine regions in Northern France
If you plan to book a ferry to France, whether to visit one of the major cities or to take in the country’s renowned rolling countryside, then there’s one thing that you really ought to know... which is that it is also one of the world’s major wine-producing nations.
You don’t even need to look too far, given that wine is produced across the country... but in today’s blog, we’ll be especially focussing on the major wine regions in the north of France.
Even just reading the name of this region indicates to you its importance in the production and popularisation of a certain sparkling white wine! The region is about 100 miles (160km) east of Paris in the northeast of the country, and is also the coldest of its major wine regions.
EU law – not to mention the law in most countries – dictates that only the wines from this region can be referred to as “Champagne”. The region built its wine-producing reputation that it continues to enjoy to this day, despite its long history of military conflicts, including the likes of the Hundred Years’ War and 30 Year War.
The world-renowned Loire Valley covers some 185,000 acres (750 square kilometres) of planted vineyards, with the range of produced wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Melon de Bourgogne, to name just a few examples.
Winemaking first took place in the Loire Valley as long ago as the 1st century, and by the time of the High Middle Ages, the region’s wines had a reputation exceeding any others across England and France – even those from Bordeaux.
The Loire Valley mostly produces white wine, although there are also some red wines made. The region produces not only still wines, but also some sparkling, rose and dessert wines.
Another northern French wine region that produces mostly white wine is Alsace. However, it is also known for certain red, rose, sweet and sparkling wines. Situated on the river Rhine to the east of the country, it is close to the border with Germany, which produces many of the same grape varieties.
Alsace has a greatly varied geology, with the vineyards featuring many different types of soils. Grapes that are grown in this region include Pinot Noir, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Another way in which Alsace can be compared to Germany is in its long tradition of varietal labelling.