Top 4 unmissable wine regions of Southern France

Top 4 unmissable wine regions of Southern France

The French wine industry can be traced back to 600 BC when early Greek settlers cultivated the first French vineyards. Today, winemaking in France has been refined to an art. With its conducive climate and soil, France produces a wonderful array of fine wines with several regional specialities. So vast is their variety that if you tried a new French wine every day, it would take you no less than 8 years to sample them all.  
Your Emerald Waterways cruise through France is the perfect way to explore the culture and history of the famed French wineries. Here are our pick of the top four unmissable wine regions of France:

1. Beaujolais

Beaujolais strictly produces only one variety of grapes, Gamay. The region produces mostly red wine with only about 1% of the wine produced being white. With a fruity, bubble-gum like aroma, Beaujolais is a light-bodied red wine with high acidity and low tannins. Beaujolais has a long history of winemaking and has relatively recently begun producing the Beaujolais Nouveau wine.

The pinkish-red wine is called ‘nouveau’ or new because the crushed grapes are bottled just weeks after being harvested. Being young, Beaujolais Nouveau wine is much cheaper than its aged Beaujolais cousins, but that didn’t prevent the locals from dedicating a whole day to it. Under French law, the official time for the release of Beaujolais Nouveau wine is at 12:01 am on the third Thursday of November – the Beaujolais Nouveau Day.
Beaujolai France

2. Tain l’Hermitage

On the northern side of the Rhône River lies a little hamlet that produces some of the finest Syrah grapes and a few varieties of white wine grapes. Hermitage wines are best had after they have been aged in the cellar for 15-20 years at least. Young Hermitage wines are overpowering and tannic on the palate. Matured Hermitage wines are more refined, soft and rich. As a result, Hermitage wines are amongst the longest-lived French wines and are sometimes aged for more than four decades. Surely that is reason enough to pay a visit to Tain l’Hermitage’s French vineyards.
Tail l'hermitage France

3. Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The southern side of Rhône has a vastly different, mostly Mediterranean climate, compared to the north. The differing “terroirs” (environmental conditions) has favoured the cultivation of a variety of French wines, and the most famous red wine to come from the region is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

As with most French wineries, Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s wine making history dates back several centuries. The Romans were the first to produce French wines at Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and a tour around the southern side of the Rhône Valley will reveal several Roman ruins, including the most well-preserved Roman amphitheatre. Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines have a rich and luscious texture when young and acquire a more silky texture as they age. 

Chateauneuf du pape France

4. Beaune

Burgundy’s reputation as the maker of both red and white fine French wines is legendary. The region is renowned for two main grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The most expensive wine in the world, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti Grand Cru, with a maximum price of over US$500,000, also comes from the Burgundy region. Burgundy’s reds can be best described as well-rounded and delicate with a fresh finish, while its whites offer a saline and lemony finish with a touch of liquorice and brioche.

Côte-d'Or is the heart of Burgundy wineries and Beaune is its unofficial wine capital. An annual wine auction is held in November at the Hospices de Beaune where wine connoisseurs and amateurs from all over the world come together to appreciate Burgundy’s finest varieties. Under the charming wine town of Beaune lies Burgundy’s largest network of ancient wine cellars that stretch across several kilometres and is stocked with millions of bottles of French wines patiently aging. It is the perfect (albeit a little spooky) setting for a cave tasting session.

Beaune France
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