France still seth the standards by which most of the world’s finest wines are judged, but ar far as store sales are concerned, australian wines are rapidly moving into pole position.
The French have certainly long been lovers of wine, from the red wine plonk for daily drinking of the vin ordinaire to the great wines from Bordeaux and Burgungdy. Life without wins is unthinkable to most of the French. Daily enjoyment of wine, with family of friends, or with a meal, is an essential pause in French life. Wine is the soul of the French always managed to save that soul.
In contrast though, pick up almost any international wine list in a restaurant and French wines still dominate. It will be fascinating to see if French wines can fight back over the next decade.
The system of Appellations d’origine Contrôlées (AC) used in France – which defines the region in which a wine’s grapes are grown, the varieties used, and the manner of production – may have its restrictions but it is still the first piece of information many people look for on a label. Vin de Pays, the lowest category of France wine, does not follow strict AC rules, but today it can hold many a pleasant surprise and bargain for the wine lover.
Bordeaux Burgundy Alsace The Rhône The Loire Valley
This is an aromatic grape, which ripens early and is mostly grown in cool-climate vineyards.
Its range extends from featherweight tangy, dry white wines like Sauvignon de Touraine, to the ripe, almost tropical-like fruitiness obtained in California, where the less common addition of oak is often adopted and labelled 'Fume Blanc'. Sauvignon Blanc thrives on chalk or gravel soil.
In France, Savignon Blanc finds its greatest expression at the eastern end of the Liore Valley, at Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, but this is matched in New Zealand, particularly in the Marlborough district. The New Zealand style -all the rage today- offers a stunning combination of zesty fruit and rich melon undertones which burst into action as soon as the cork is drawn, or indeed the cap os loosened.
In Bordeaux, a few chateaux, such as La Mission Haut-Brion and Domaine de Chavalier, lavish attention on Sauvignon, carefully blending it with Semillon and ageing the blend on oak. These rich, lanolin-textured wines are allowed to age for decades, but most Sauvignon Blanc are consumed as young wines. Sauvignon Blanc can plau an extremely important supporting role to Semillon, in both dry and sweet wines. This is particularly the case in Bordeaux, as Semillon, naturally low in acidity, gains a fresh and youthful attribute from its presence.
The Sauvignon Blanc grape is grown in the Loire and St Bris in France, New Zealand, USA, Western and South Australia, South Africa and Chile.
Today world's most popular white grape, Chadonnay express its varietal character in many forms: from the racy, steely, and nervy wines of Chablis, to the fuller-bodied, buttery rich wine made in the Napa Vally, California.
The Riesling grape is seen by many as the most versatile variety of white grape in the world. It is without doubt a class act with a number of strengths, not least its ability to outperform Chardonnay in the longevity stakes.
Arguably one fo the most underrated verieties of grapes, Sémillon, Bordeaux's most widely planted white grape, makes delicious dry and sweet wines. With an almost honeyed texture, Sémillon is often partnered by Sauvignon Blanc to lift the acidity, although Australian winemakers also blend Sémillon Trebbiano.
An extremely versatile variety of grapes, Chenin Blanc is capable of making dry and crisp white wines that are great as an aperitif, through to medium, unctuous and sweet styles. Due to the keeen and vibrant acidity often found in Chenin Blanc grape, they make brilliant food wines and can stay in good shape for many years after the vitange.
This distinctive grape variety is known by its friends simply as Gewürtz but sometimes also as Traminer. It provides interese aromas, reminiscent of lychee, rose petals and spice.
The vineyards of St-Emilion surround the picturesque village of that name. The ancient Romans were certain of the quality of the local vineyards, as witnessed by the famous poet and consul Ausonius. The vineyards surrounding St-Emilion are situated on a plateau of calciferous soil and on hills of chalk-bearing loam or clay soils. West of St-Emilion the underlying ground is gravel. This is the area of the great French wines. Most St-Emilion wines though originate from sandy-sediments and ferruginous sandstone beds which reach to the Dordogne.
South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere within the latitudes that are most favoured for cultivating vines and making wine. The South African climate can be likened to that of the Mediterranean.
The best wine-growing areas are at the foot of the mountains and in the valleys. The grapes have no shortage of sunshine here. The temperature in winter drops to no lower than 0- 10°C (32- 500 P). Cooling sea breezes bring the necessary moisture to the vineyards. Most rain falls between May to August.
The geology underfoot varies from granite in the foothills of the mountains to sandstone at Table Mountain, soft slate at Malmesbury, and slate and loess along the rivers. There are great differences from one vineyard to another. This makes the estate wines from the smaller domains additionally interesting. The production of wine is mainly in the hands of cooperative wineries (85% of the total) of which the most important is the KWV.
South Africa is at present the eighth largest wine-producing country with 3 % of the world production compared with France at 22%, Italy with 20 %, and Spain with almost 14%.
All wine that is exported is provided with a quality seal. Samples are taken of these wines and the wine must meet organoleptic standards, or put in other words must fulfil certain