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Wines of France, Part 6


"Too much and too little wine. Give him none, he
cannot find truth; give him too much, the same."
— Blaise Pascal

Bunch of grapes


Bordeaux Wines are made from grapes grown in the region around Bordeaux, France's principal wine-trading center.

The vineyards around Bordeaux, covering 550,000 acres (222,700 hectares), yield some of the world's greatest wines. Annual production amounts to more than 65 million gallons (300 million liters). There are some 500 wine brokers in Bordeaux, who work between growers and shippers and speculate in harvests even before the grapes are gathered.

The best Bordeaux wines bear the names of the châteaus where they are bottled. These are the classified wines, and they bring increasingly high prices. But the bulk of the trade is in regional wines that bear the names of districts or villages — for instance, Haut-Médoc or Saint-Julien.

The great acreage of carefully tended, close-pruned vineyards around Bordeaux produces an infinite variety of wines: red wines, ranging from delicate Margaux to robust St-Émilion; peerless sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac; and the flavorful dry white Graves. The rarest is the famous red wine of Château Haut-Brion.

Alexis Lichine, author of Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits of the World.
Source: Encyclopedia Americana, ©2003 Grolier Inc., Danbury, CT.
Bibliography: Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, The World Atlas of Wine, 5th ed. (Mitchell Beazley 2001). Robert M. Parker, Jr., Bordeaux: A Comprehensive Guide to the Wines Produced from 1961 to 1997, 3d ed. (Simon & Schuster 1998). Edmund Penning-Rowsell, The Wines of Bordeaux, 6th ed. (Penguin 1989).


Burgundy Wines are grown in the Burgundy region of eastern France, along the Saône River south of Dijon.

Since the vineyard area is a limited one, it is not always easy to find a true, unblended Burgundy. The appellations of the great red Burgundies ring like music in the ears of their devotees: Clos de Vougeot, Pommard, Corton, Chambertin, Richebourg, and Volnay. They come from the fabulous Côte-d'Or — the golden slope — which is divided into the sturdier growths of the Côtes de Nuits and the lighter Côte de Beaune wines. All come from the noble grape Pinot-Noir.

The idea that a red Burgundy is headier and more robust than any Bordeaux wine is mistaken. Some of the Beaunes have great delicacy and finesse.

The white Burgundies are, in the opinion of many wine lovers, the finest dry white wines in the world. The greatest — Montrachet and Meursault — are dry, full, round and perfumed. The white Corton-Charlemagne has a trace of steel. Chablis, from the northwestern periphery of the region, is flint-dry and clean tasting. Unfortunately, the acreage is very small — although countless bottles labeled "Chablis" stand on restaurant tables the world over. In the south of Burgundy is the Beaujolais country where the Gamay grape (an inferior vine farther north) yields a light, red wine, comparatively inexpensive and most agreeable when taken young, fresh and fruity. Some white Beaujolais is made, the most popular of the wines in this category being Pouilly-Fuissé.

Alexis Lichine, author of Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits of the World.
Source: Encyclopedia Americana, ©2003 Grolier Inc., Danbury, CT.
Bibliography: Thomas Brennan, Burgundy to Champagne: The Wine Trade in Early Modern France, no. 115 of Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press 1997). Clive M.W. Coates, Côte d'Or: A Celebration of the Great Wines of Burgundy (Univ. of Calif. Press 1997). Richard Olney, Romanée-Conti: The World's Most Fabled Wine (Rizzoli Intl. Pubns. 1995).

History of French Winesright arrow


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