Always the territory of powerful men, Beychevelle boasts a long and rich history. During the Middle Ages, when it was owned by the counts of Foix-Candale, the wine was shipped from the port at the bottom of the garden. Bishop François de Foix-Candale had a first château built in 1565. He was followed by Jean-Louis de Nogaret de la Valette, first Due d’Épernon and Admiral of France, his son Bernard who added the central portion of the château in 1644, then Henri de Foix-Candale. In the eighteenth century, the property belonged successively to Jean-Baptiste d’Abadie, President of the Bordeaux parliament; to the Brassier family who partially rebuilt the château, giving the building its present form; and to the ship-owner Jacques Conte.
Two Bordeaux French wine areas are situated south of Charentes Maritime (the area famous for distilling Cognac): the larger Cotes de Blaye (including the Premieres Cotes de Blaye) and the smaller Cotes de Bourg. Both lie on the right bank of the mouth of the Gironde. Red French wines are produced in the south of this area and dry white French wines in the north.
This 3,600 hectares wine region is often called the 'Switzerland' of Bordeaux, because of the many rolling green hills. Both red and white French wines are produced here. The white French wines are extremely rare and to be honest best ignored as they offer nothing special in terms of quality. This Sauvignon white French wine is extremely fresh tasting and pleasing but best drunk as an aperitif. Drinking temperature: 9-10°C (48.2-50°F).
The red French wine is deeply and attractively coloured and fairly aromatic. When young it is quite rough but after several years ageing in the bottle the harsh tannin mellows. The taste is then rounded, full, and sometimes even seductive. The better quality for this French wines possess class, refinement, and elegance. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 16°C (60.8 °F).
Dating from the very beginning of the seventeenth century, as the date carved above the fireplace prove, this property can rightly be proud of its rich and very long history. In the middle of the domain is an old well, which still resounds with voices and peals of laughter. If you listen carefully, it tells of the joys and sorrows of pilgrims on their way to Saint James of Compostela who, from the tenth to the fifteenth centuries, stopped here to quench their thirst.
These days the waters are just as pure, but their level is a little lower. This is because the property's owner, like Jesus at the wedding at Cana, contemplated the vineyard's potential and used his powers to change water into wine. Like the pilgrims of the Middle Ages, the vine stocks soak up strength, vigor, and sap from this generous terroir.But, if nature allows us to work miracles, it does require our assistance!
In the part of this book dealing with wines of Southwest France it was explained that the wines of Duras and Bergerac have their own entity alongside the wines of Bordeaux and those that are truly of the south-west.
To avoid dispute and confusion and not to take sides, both wine-growing areas are listed separately here. Both have closer social and economic affinity with the capital of Aquitaine (Bordeaux) than that of the south-west (Toulouse). The daily trade and business of Bordeaux in the daily business of both areas and the economic importance of Duras and Bergerac all play an important role.
The wine-growing area of Duras appears to be wedged between the vineyards of Bordeaux to the west, those of Bergerac to the north, and south-west vineyards of Pais Marmandais. Duras is not a large French wine region with about 2,000 hectares. Centuries of experience makes this area special and the wine superb. Although the folk of Duras are proud of their wines you will find little fuss about it in the local media. The people prefer to work quietly away at improving their vines and their French wines. Duras (AC since 1937) is aimed more at the connoisseur rather than those attracted to a wine by its label. Only those prepared to make the effort to seek out quality and the simple pleasure of wine without a fuss will experience the delight of the superb Duras wines.
The vineyards of Duras are sited at the tops of the gently undulating hills (white wines) and the southern slopes (red wine) . The subsoil is extremely varied but the tops of the hills consists of a calciferous sandstone while the slopes are a mixture of compacted clay and chalk with many fossilised shells. The climate is similar to that of Bored, except that it is generally hotter and drier in Duras. The predominant white French wine grapes are Sauvignon, Semillon, and Muscadelle (with the odd trace of Ugni Blanc, Mauzac, Ondenc, and Chenin Blanc) while Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and a small amount of Cot (Malbec) is used for the rose and red wines. The majority of the production is of red French wine (54%) and dry white (42%), with sweet white accounting for (2.5%), and rose (1.5%).
Cotes de Duras Sec is a light, fresh, elegant, and fruity dry wine with a wonderful pale yellow colour that is tinged with green. This French wine, which is dominated by the Sauvignon Blanc, is certainly one of the best Sauvignon wines from Aquitaine. Drink this French wine at 8-10°C (46.4-50°F).
Cotes de Duras Moelleux is a rare sweet white French wine dominated by Semillon. It is a harmonious, wholly sweet wine with a nose of honey, vanilla, toast, apricot, peach, preserved fruit, almond, walnut, hazelnut, and figs. The texture is fatty, almost unctuous, and the taste lingers long on the palate. The French enjoy this French wine as an aperitif with goose and duck liver pate. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 6-8°C(42.8-46.4°F) .
Cotes de Duras rose, created by the saignee (early drawing) method, is fresh, fruity and very aromatic (black currant and acid drops). It is an ideal French wine to drink with summer dishes. Drink this French wine at temperature10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
Cotes de Duras red can be a very pleasant, lithe, elegant, and fruity wine, made by steeping in carbonic acid gas (maceration carbonique). Today though most wine is vinified by traditional methods which produce a fuller, fleshier wine with loss of the fruity character. Always drink the first type chilled when young (12°C/53.6°F). This traditional French wine can be kept for five to ten years. Drinking temperature for this traditional French wine: 14-16°C (57.2- 60.8°F) .
The Côtes de Nuits is world-famous for its red French wines and home to a great assortment ofterroirs and styles. The area starts in Marsannay and ends at Corgoloin. The soil is chalky with a lower layer of marl.
The French red wine is somewhat heavy and rough when young but after several years ageing it becomes gentler, more rounded, and plump, with the aroma of red fruit, in particular cherry, blackcurrant, and redcurrant, with the occasional hint of prune, liquorice, cocoa, or coffee.
The best known wine is the Rosé de Marsannay. This French wine is pale pink with some orange. The smell is fresh and pleasant while the taste is reminiscent of red fruit. The white French wine is very fresh, full-bodied, and impetuous but more supple and rounded when mature. The wine is intensely coloured, has a characteristic Chardonnay scent with exotic fruit, such as pineapple and grapefruit, and a big taste.
Fixin is best known for its red French wines. This is usually a fleshy, powerful wine with quite a lot of tannin when young which enables it to be kept. When young the wine is ruby red and has the nose of cherry, strawberry, and raspberry. When mature the scent is of plum or even leather.
This French wine is an attractive ruby red that is pure and clear. The characteristlc aromas are of black cherry, blackberry, and other small fruit, with an occasional hint of liquorice.
It acquires a bouquet of spices, including nutmeg, and leather through maturing in oak which takes on earthy tones, bushes, wet leaves, and toadstools when it has reached a respectable age.
This French wine is high in tannin but not so that it disturbs the taste, in part because of the fullness of the French wine. The taste is very full and fruity. The wine can be kept for 10-20 years after its harvest. The Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru Les Cazetiers is highly recommended.
The Cotes du Marmandais AC vineyards cover 1,800 hectares on the right bank of the Garonne on gently undulating hills with soil of gravel and pebbles, interspersed with calciferous sandstone, and chalkbearing clay.
White Cotes du Marmandais, made with the Semillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle and Ugni Blanc, are fine dry French wines that are fresh and fruity with a bouquet of white flowers and sometimes a note of almond. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 10- 12°C.(50-53.6°F).
The rose is fresh, fruity, and pale. For a good taste drink this French wine at 12°C (53 .6°F). Cotes du Marmandais red is produced with the Bordeaux grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Pranc, Merlot and Malbec, supplemented with the local Abouriou and Per Servadou, and when necessary with a little Gamay and Syrah. It is better value to buy the slightly more expensive cuvees such as Richard Premier, Tap de Perbos, or La Vieille Eglise. Drinking temperature for this French wine: 14- 16°C (57.2-60.8°F) .
The Cotes de St-Mont were admitted to VDQS status in 1981. These red and rose French wines are made using Tannat and Per Servadou, supplemented when necessary with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Pranc to provide greater roundness and finesse. This white French wine is blended from typical local varieties such as Gros Manseng, Arrufiac, Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu, with occasional use of a little Clairette.
The red French wine area is on the eastern and southern facing hills which have two soil types. The stony ground provides a light red wine made by modern methods which is pleasing, comforting but unpretentious to drink well chilled at approx. 12°C (53.6°F). The heavier clay soil produces rounder, more fleshy French wines which can be readily kept. Drink these French wines at 12- 14°C (53 .6- 57.2°F) when young and at 16°C (60.8°F )when mature.
The rose is soft, very pleasing, and aromatic. The taste is fruity and fresh for a French wine. Drink these French wines at 12°C (53.8°F) .
The western hills with their soil of chalk and clay deliver very subtle, elegant white French wines. The aromatic properties of the young wine quickly changes to a complex bouquet. Drink this French wine at 10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
In addition to the VDQS wines listed here there are also some good French wines known as vins de pays des Cotes de Gascogne, which have justifiably established themselves in the past decade.
The soils of the vineyards of Roussillon are very complex and variable: chalk, clay, shale, gneis, granite, and alluvial deposits, causing great variety in the types and tastes of these French wines. The climate is extremely hot in summer and mild in winter but rain does not fall evenly throughout the year. An entire vineyard can be destroyed by a cloudburst. Winemaking in Roussillon in the past decades has changed greatly with significant improvement of the regulation of temperature before and during fermentation. The white French wine is light, fresh, and fruity: drink it at 10- 12°C (50-53.6°F) .
The rose is produced by the saignee methode, meaning that the red French wine is drawn off early and then vinified as white wine. Because the wine is drawn off so quickly, the grape skins have had just enough time to impart their wonderful red colour without adding tannin to the wine. This rose is very fruity. Drink this taste French wine at 12°C (53.6°F) .
There are two different types of red wine. A light wine is often produced by steeping in carbonic acid gas maceration carbonique), which is fruity, slightly spicy, and particularly pleasing. For a good taste drink this French wine at 12- 14°C(53 .6-57.2°F) .
The traditionally made red French wine is stronger and more rounded. The bouquet tends towards red cherry, plums, preserved fruit, and spices. This French wine can be kept for some time because it is aged in wood. Drink this French wine at 14- 16°C (57 .2- 60.8°F) .
The difference of this red French wine from the other Cotes du Roussillon wines is its specific terroirs, which mainly consist of the sides of hills or terraces of shale, chalk, and granite. The grapes used are the same as ordinary Cotes du Roussillon but the output per hectare is much lower. The appellation Cotes du Roussillon Villages may be used by 32 communes in the north of the department on vineyards extending to 2,000 hectares. These French wines are stronger, more powerful, and more complex than Cotes du Roussillon, and can be kept longer. For a good taste serve this French wine at 16°C (60.8°F) .
Among the 32 communes of Cotes du Roussillon Villages, there are four which are permitted to bear their name on the label, in recognition of their higher quality.
The wine-growing area on the right bank of the Garonne is about 60 km (37 miles) long and runs from the suburbs of Bordeaux to the border with the Cotes de Bordeaux St-Macaire. The landscape is hilly and there are magnificent views across the river and the vineyards of Graves. The underlying beds are varied but chiefly chalk and gravel on the hills and alluvial deposits closer to the Garonne.
Production is mainly of red French wines but some smooth to liquorous white wines are made in the southeastern tip close to Cadillac,
A massive wine producing area running from Bergerac to the west of Bordeaux, and stretching south to the Spanish frontier and south east to the Mediterranean.
This French wine area is situated to the south of Bergerac. The small town of Ste-Foy appears to consist oftwo parts. Port-Ste-Foy is on the right bank of the Dordogne, hence in the Bergeracois, while Ste-Foyla-Grande is in the Bordelais on the left bank. The soil of Ste-Foy varies from clay bearing alluvial deposits for the reds to chalk bearing strata on which the whites are grown. The underlying strata are gravel, sand, and calciferous clay. This explains the difference in types and taste of the Ste-Foy wines. A remarkable and positive fact regarding this French wine-growing district is their quality charter that is signed by the communal winegrowers.
The red French wine is the most widely produced, using Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Most of these are fairly dark, very fruity, with a bouquet of red fruit and vanilla, which merge into more complex aromas such as leather, fungus, coffee, and spices, when mature. Drinking temperature for Ste-Foy-Bordeaux French wine: 16°C (60 .8°F).
Wine(actually French Wine) has been made for more than 2,000 years between Vienne and Avignon in the valley of the Rhone river. The basis of arguably the best known wine-growing region of France - Cotes du Rhone was established by the Celts, Greeks, and Romans.
This very extensive French wine region with its many different terroirs and micro climates eventually became established as a distinctive entity.
The French wine from the district around Uzes in the department of Gard enjoyed so much fame in the seventeenth century that it was readily imitated. To protect its origins and quality it was officially recognised in 1650 and its area of origin strictly defined. After a further battle lasting more than a century the Appellation Cotes du Rhone Controlee eventually became a fact in 1937. In 1956 the feared winter mistral blew at speeds of more than 62 miles/100 km per hour for three weeks and the thermometer remained stuck at about minus 59°F (15°C). Disastrously this killed all the olive trees but since the vines had survived these conditions the ruined farmers decided to switch to wine-growing.
This was the start of the enormous growth of Cotes du Rhone.
There are at least 23 different varieties of grape permitted to be used in the wine-growing region of Cotes du Rhone plus the Muscat Petit Grain that is used for the naturally sweet Beaumes-de-Venise. In the northern part ofthe Rhone Valley red wine is exclusively made with Syrah but white wines are produced from Viognier, Roussanne, and Marsanne.
In the south they use some Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsauit, and Carignan grapes in addition to Syrah for their reds with the Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc for the white French wines.
Rhone wines are divided into four categories: the generic Appellation Cotes du Rhone Regionale, the better Cotes du Rhone Villages, the Crus, and the satellites that are geographically related but have their own identities (Clairette de Die, Cremant de Die, Vins du Diois, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux en Costieres de Nimes).
About 80 per cent of the generic Côtes du Rhone produced are very good. Because this category represents such a wide diversity of terroirs, micro climates. and winemakers, the wine has an equally diverse range of aromatic properties.
Generally these are comforting and friendly wines. The red is well structured, full of aroma and taste and very rounded. It can be drunk when still young but can also be left for a while.The rose wines come from the south of the region and they range from raspberry colour to salmon pink. These roses are always fruity and yielding. The white wine is dry, well-balanced, well structured, very aromatic, and thirst-quenching.
There are 77 communes in the southern Rhone Valley which are permitted to use Côtes du Rhone Villages on the label of their wines and of these sixteen may also use the village name on the label.
The stipulations about the planting, care of the vines, yield, and wine-making for these white, rose, and red wines are more rigid. Certain of the best known Côtes du Rhone Villages are Beaumes-deVenise (red and rose), Cairanne (red, rose, and white), Chusclan (red and rose), Laudun (red, rose, and white), Rasteau (red, rose, and white), Rochegude (red, rose, and white),
There are eight AC areas in Provence for a good French wine. We start with the most Northerly and then travel via Nice and along the coast to Aries.
This is the largest appellation of Provence wines in terms of volume. The area is subdivided into five terroirs: Les collines du Haut Pays, La vallee interieure, La bordure maritime, Le bassin du Beausset and La Ste-Victoire.
The colour of the rose depends on the winemaking method used and the length of time that the juice remained in contact with the grape skins. The longer this is, the darker is the wine. Provençal rose is dry, fruity, and elegant. The colour is always clear and sparkling. Drink this French wine at appr. 10°C (50°F).
This is an excellent French wine made by traditional methods but with the help of modern technology. The wide differences in colour, bouquet, and taste result from the different terroirs, grapes used, and vinification method. Some wines are light and fruity with floral notes, others are mainly aged in wood, stronger, and fuller. These French wines need to be kept for a few years before drinking them.
Drink the lighter coloured fruity types French wine chilled at 14°C (57 .2°F) while the heavier types are better served slightly warmer at approx. 16°C (60.8°F).
This is a very rare French wine of high quality and always made with just white grapes: Blancs de Blancs. The choice of grapes and the terroir determine the character of the wine - from fresh and lithe to fullbodied and rounded. This French wine is worth discovering. Drink this French wine it chilled at approx. 10- 12°C (50- 53 .6°F) .
Coteaux Varois has only been recognised with an AC appellation since 1993. Pleasing, fruity, and full-bodied wines are made in the centre of the department of Var, around the picturesque little Provençal town of Brignoles.
Of these, 60% are rose, 35% red, and a mere 5% white wines. This French wine is similar to the Cotes de Provence. The vineyards of Bandol are planted in terraces or restanques on poor, calciferous gravels, protected by the amphitheatre of the wooded mountains (Massif de Ste-Beaume, 1,147 metres/3,763 feet). The sun shines here for at least 3,000 hours per year.
Fortunately the easterly and south-easterly winds bring showers and the southerly winds from the Mediterranean mitigate the heat. Generations of hard-working wine-growers built and maintain the restanques by hand. It is a constant battle over the course of centuries on this dry soil and steep slopes to prevent erosion. There is never a quiet time in these vineyards. Every job has to be done by hand because machines cannot work these terraces. This has its effect on the price of a good Bandol wine. An important factor in the price is the profit per hectare.
The legally prescribed maximum yield of 40 hectolitres per hectare is almost impossible to achieve here. The average is around 35 hectolitre per hectare. The total area in cultivation amounts to slightly more than 1,000 hectares. The local winemakers are perfectionists who constantly seek the best sites, the best grapes, the best vats etc. Their results mirror their efforts. Bandol belongs to the elite club of great French wines.