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FRANCE
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Alsace

France has influence the production of fine wines worldwide and wine is so embedded into their culture that it is part of their persona. All eight classic varietal are grown in France, from the Riesling and Gewurztraminer of Alsace to the great reds and whites of Burgundy, the Rhone, and Bordeaux. They represent the influence of the Alps and Rivers of the East to that of the Atlantic in the West.

Champagne is produced in the northern most vineyards of France. The most popular is the brut non-vintage, traditionally a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Vintage Champagne is produced only in exceptional years and reflects the character of the vintage rather than the house. To the West is Alsace the only fine wine area to name the wine after the variety rather than the place. The main varieties are bone dry Riesling, the longest-lived white wine in the world, followed by Gewurztraminer spicy and off-dry and Pinot Gris which tends to combine the spiciness of Gewürztraminer with the backbone of Riesling. Burgundy, to the South of Champagne is divided into four main vinicultual areas. The Cote de Nuits which produces mainly big, intense, full flavored reds and the Cote de Beaune known primarily for it's great whites. The reds from this area are more seductive and feminine in style than those from the Cote de Nuits. The other two are Chablis in the north, steely, dry, age- worthy wines, great with seafood, and Chalonnaise and Macon in the south, both more known for it’s fine everyday drinking wines.

Further South the Rhone Valley broken up into two distinct vinicultual areas tied together by the Rhone River. Syrah, produced in the mountainous north is long-lived, rich, tannic, and concentrated . The Southern Rhone is flat with a Mediterranean climate. The dominant variety here is Grenache, although Syrah is gaining in stature. Chateuneuf-du-Pape, rich, full-bodied and spicy is the flagship wine of the region.

Bordeaux, mainly due to the moderating influence of Atlantic Gulf Stream, is best known for their famous red wines traditionally a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Divided by the river Gironde, Graves along with the Haut Medoc, famous for the communes of Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac, and St. Estephe are on the left bank. The main grape here is Cabernet Sauvignon while in St. Emilion and Pomerol on the right bank uses Merlot as the predominate grape. The dry white wines from Graves and the sweet white wines from Sauternes and Barsec are among the finest wines in the world. Finally, to the North is the Loire, famous for the clean crisp Pouilly Fume and Sancerre and outstanding delicate Pinot Noir Rose.


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