WINES of FRANCE
The trip that Susi and I took recently throughout France opened up a world of discovery for us!
We found the month of October, the harvest season, was the optimum time to visit the major regions of France where the making of wine is an age old tradition dating back to the time even before the Romans. Thanks to the TJV, France’s high-speed express rail we were able to visit nearly a dozen precincts in less than 3 weeks. And our partner, EURAIL provided the service we needed to book our trips with comfort and efficiency .Their package plans worked best for us. We heartily recommend their service.
Before I get started I was able to track some of the figures about the country’s wine production for the last given year, 2018. What I found was that France was the second largest producer of wines world-wide at 16%, only one point less than Italy at 17%. In terms of export, however, I found that France was no.1 with 10.3 billion dollars in product sales based on 2017 figures. This represented over 20% of the world’s total production. And in 2017, France produced 7-8 billion bottles of wine, this for a country of only 37 million people. For the average man or woman this comes out to about a glass per day. Impressive!
There are nearly a dozen wine producing regions in France. We settled on the top 10. With stops along the way we were able to sample some of the more significant wines of each region. The areas we liked most included the South-Western region, in the Pyrenees, especially the cities Cahors and Bergerac., Loire, then Provence, followed by Chinon, Casiss, St.Emilion, the Rhone Valley, where Avignon and Chateau-du-Pape come together, Languedoc-Rousillon, and Bordeaux, the country’s undisputed leader where in 2017 over 900 million bottles were produced. In Bordeaux we found an incredible source of info on the history of French wine at the newly constructed La Cite du Vin, located on the riverside of the city. And, of course, there’s Paris, the “City of Light” where the Clos de Montmarte is a standout.While our choice of wines was limited by virtue of our short stay, we favored some of the white varietals. These included: Chardonney, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and St. Emilion and their White Bourgandy. We capped off our brief stay with Champagne, Bien Sūr! On the red side of the spectrum, we liked a number of select wines Th including: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. We learned that while the harvest season is heavily skewed toward the months of October or even November, the month of September is also a good choice with hundreds of celebrations in every region.The annual Fete Nationale de las Gastronome, for example, usually runs for three days, from the 21st to the 23rd of September throughout France. This event honors the best food and wine that France has to offer the world. Producers, marketers, distributors, and nearly everyone associated with France as the gourmet capital of Europe stops off here. Put it on your calendar for 2019.
For more info on travel to France you can contact the French Tourist office in your city or nearest outpost. Try www. franceguide.com or for the foods and wines of france there’s SOPEXA in the U.S.,their promotional arm. For rail travel go to EURAIL.com. They’ll guide you in the right direction with a myriad of services you can work with.