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    Santé! A guide to enjoying French wines and champagnes
    Raise a glass as you learn more about the ins and outs of French wine
    French wine guide
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    France is known as one of the world’s oldest wine regions, famed for its high-quality blends and ancient vineyards. With a deep connection between the terroir of its growing regions and the wines they produce, winemaking is a source of national pride for the country, which has taken steps to safeguard the quality and authenticity of its production. 

    Chances are, you’ve already tried French wine at a restaurant – wine lists around the world typically feature a plethora of names by the many French maisons, some which have been in production for centuries. For a quick primer on French wines, we’ve put together a helpful guide, below. 

    And, as a bonus, wine connoisseurs looking to purchase any of the following bottles can take advantage of a 15% cash discount between 5 May and 9 June when you shop with Cathay . To see some of these wines on display, you can also head to our retail space in Cityplaza.

    French wine guide

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    french wine guide

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    What is the appellation d'origine contrôlée?

    In France, many of its greatest wine regions are registered under the appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC): an agricultural certificate which states that a wine was made in a certain region or terroir, to specific standards – this all sits under another ordinance called the L’Appellation d’origine protégée (PDO). It’s what makes French wines so distinctive and ensures their quality, making it easy for buyers to understand that what they’re getting is both authentic and made to the highest standards. This certification is just one reason France is considered one of the best wine countries in the world. 

    The classification of a wine under the AOC not only tells you where a wine comes from, but also what kind of growing conditions the grapes thrived in based on the geographical quirks of the area such as the type of soil, climate and more. More importantly for wine producers, it also limits the production of a certain type of wine to that terroir. For example, champagne famously can only be called such if it’s produced in Champagne, France.

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    wine

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    French wine regions and types of wines

    The distinctive wine producing regions in France are each known for specific varietals. In regions such as Bordeaux, Languedoc Roussillon and the Rhône Valley, you’re likely to find stunning red wines made of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, grenache and syrah grapes and their blends.

    Shop the region

    Chateau La Garde, Blanc (Bordeaux) 2018

    Chateau Le Boscq (St Estephe – Bordeaux) 2014

    In the northern regions, white wines rule the roost with the Loire Valley, Alsace and Champagne producing much of the country’s white varietals. Alsace is known for its rieslings, while you’ll find chenin blancs, sauvignon blancs and sweeter muscadets produced in the Loire Valley. Champagne speaks for itself. And in the middle of the country, Bourgogne is known for its mastery of both red and white wines such as pinot noir and chardonnay.

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    Domaine Grosbois, Cuisine de ma Mere (Loire Valley) 2020

    For lovers of rosé wine, Provence specialises in the pale pink blends. Vins de Provence reportedly accounted for 38% of the country's overall rosé production in 2020, which equates to about 150 million AOC-certified bottles. 

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    All about French champagnes

    The origins of French champagne have been widely contested, but one lovely story tells the tale of a Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Pérignon accidentally stumbling upon its creation while experimenting with wine production in the 17th century – calling out to his friends, ‘Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!’

    Nowadays, the maison named after him, Dom Pérignon, is just one of many iconic Champagne houses including Deutz, Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Krug and more. And this luxurious, golden sparkling beverage has become synonymous with celebrations, popped at birthdays, New Year’s Eve and more.

    Champagne production has come a long way over the years, with producers experimenting with everything from the sugar content and variety of grapes used, to blending various vintages. And the drink’s trademark bubbliness comes from careful fermentation processes, including adding CO2-producing yeast and sugar to wines which release gas over time. 

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    Deutz Brut Classic NV

    Deutz Brut Rosé NV

    While we could delve into even more detail about champagne tasting notes, vintages and more, it’s best to leave that to the experts. Luckily, you’ll soon be able to book a champagne tasting experience with French Champagne maison Deutz to sample some of their best offerings, paired with classic French fare. Santé!

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