1. France is the world’s leading producer of high quality ‘fine wine’.
2. Its domestic consumption, vineyard area, and exports have all shrunk dramatically since the 1970s.
3. French wine consumption was over 100 litres a year per head of population in 1977 and is now less than 50 litres per person, due to advertising restrictions, drink driving laws and social changes.
4. France’s national vineyard area has declined from over 1.2 million hectares in the late 1970s to under 800,000 hectares today.
5. France’s best-known wine regions are Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne.
6. The country also makes top-quality wine for early drinking and long term cellaring from the Loire Valley, the Rhone Valley and the vast Languedoc and Roussillon regions, among other areas.
7. The best known French grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
8. These grapes have become internationalised more than any other traditional European grapes.
9. France has become a role model in the world of wine.
10. For this reason, the world of wine uses French names to refer to concepts such as Blanc de Blancs (sparkling wines made from 100% Chardonnay), veraison (the change in grape physiology during the ripening process) and terroir (the importance of geography, soil type and climate on the taste of wine).
Joelle Thomson is a wine writer, journalist and author. She’s an avid lover of wine and currently writes for Capital magazine, Good magazine, NZ Winegrower, Drinksbiz, and her own site,www.joellethomson.com
She also teaches, works in radio, and more, so we've enlisted her help to sniff out our amazing value wines!