Geographical Indications Geographical indications are common to all wine regions and France is no exception. The two used classifications are Appelation d’Origine Controlée (AOP) and Vin de Pays (VdP). The wines who are labelled with AOP are produced in smaller areas with more tightly regulations. VdP are produced in larger areas with fewer regulations. However, a wine labelled with VdP does not need to be of lower quality then wines labelled with AOP . The producer can use a grape which is not traditionally grown in the area, or the blend might not be allowed according to the strict regulation of AOP. Wines which are produced not following any of the regulations above, are simply called Vin de France.
Clairette (AOP) Clairette is one of the eldest grapes grown in the south of France and typical för the areas Provence, Rhone and Languedoc. The name Clairette means “light one” and wines made of this grape have a quite high level of alcohol and low acid. The combination of alcohol and acid makes the wine not so good for storage over a longer period. To compensate this the wine maker often blend the Clairette with other more storable grapes. The cultivated areas of the Clairette grape have been reduced during the last decade, because consumers of today prefer wines with lover alcohol and higher acid. The grape ripens slowly and needs a lot of sun to reach full potential. Wines made of Clairette are often light and fresh with flavour of apple, citrus and stone fruit, sometimes with a bitter aftertaste. The wines should be consumed relatively close to bottling when they age quite quickly.
Rolle (AOP) The green grape Rolle has been cultured in southern France since the 15:th century. The biggest cultivation area for this grape is Italy where it is named Vermentino. Wines made by Rolle can be used for sparkling, dry and sweet wines. The amber coloured grape ripens late during the season and need a lot of sun. Wines made of Rolle gives an elegant, fresh, fruity and aromatic wine with some flowery overtones.
Chardonnay The green grape Chardonnay is one of the most widely spread grapes of the world due to its magnificent ability to adapt to any climate and environmental conditions. According to the wine making method, the soil, hours of sun and temperature, a wine made from the Chardonnay grape can have quite different flavour. The grape can be used for sparkling wine as well as dry and sweet white wines. If Chardonnay wine is aged in oak barrels the taste of dairy and vanilla will be prominent. Most characterizing flavour aromas for this wines are green fruits, citrus and different tropical fruits like peach, banana and mango. Chardonnay is often used in famous blends like Semillon, Colombard and Chenin Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc This is a green grape with the specific attribute of bringing out aromatic flavours. Sauvignon Blanc gives wines with high acid, medium body and are almost always used to make a dry, white wine. It is seldom blended with other grapes except in Bordeaux where it is blended with the grapes Semillion and Muscadelle. Most prominent flavour is gooseberry, elder berry, black currant and citrus. Sauvignon Blanc is usually stored in stainless steel tanks and the recommendation for wines made of Sauvignon Blanc is to consume them early. In the region is wines made of Sauvignon Blanc considered to give some of the best young, fruity and fresh wines.
Mourvedre (AOP) Migrating farmers from Spain brought the grape Monastrell to France during the middle ages. In France the grape is named Mourvedre and are considered to be one of the best quality grapes in Provence and are used to produce both rose and red wines. The absolute best rosé wines with the highest quality in the south of France are produced on this grape. It ripens late, needs a lot of sunshine and are often the very last grape to be harvested in the vineyards. The grape variety are hardy, tough and can endure most trials before giving in. The Mourvedre grape is widely grown in famous wine areas like Chateauneuf de Pape and Bandol. Most prominent flavour in wines made of Mourvedre is blackberry, black currant, tobacco, stable and leather. The colour of the red wines is very dark purple, almost black and the wine has a high level of tannins. Mourvedre red wines can without problem be stored as long as 10 years before reaching its full potential.
Cinsault (AOP) Cinsault is a blue grape used both for red wines and rosé wines. The grape derives from southern France and the areas around Avignon, Aix and Marseilles. Wines made of Cinsault are often charmingly easy to drink thou the wine is soft and fruity. The flavour is characterized by peach, raspberry, gooseberry, pomme granate, strawberry and nectarines. The variety is one of the most rapidly growing and gives big yields with a lot of grapes. If the wine maker prune the vine roughly and limits the harvest you can get a fantastic wine with great personality, rich flavours and a full body. The grape grows relatively late and are in need of both a warm climate and a lot of sun to ripens fully. With reference to the fresh and fruity character of Cinsault the wines should be consumed during the first or second year after bottling.
Grenache (AOP) The big blue grape Grenache have a thin skin, a high sugar level and low acid. This contributes to the lighter colour even if the wine has a deep and full body. Most appearing flavours are strawberry and raspberry with a spicy tone of pepper and liquorice. If the wines made by Grenache are stored the taste of toffee and leather become more and more prominent. Since the grape needs a hot climate to ripen the area of Provence is perfect and the yields are often big. Grenache is mostly used for rose vines and should be consumed within a few years after bottling. Aging does not do anything good for this wine and it quite quickly losses both freshness and acidity after a few years.
Syrah (AOP) Syrah is a blue grape of high quality which gives a red wine with full body, suitable for aging for a long time. Wines made of Syrah are a little peppery and spicy with a deep dark red colour. In the New World it´s named Shiraz and are one of the 10 most cultured grapes in the world mostly because it can stand almost any climate. The skin of the grape is thin and wines produced of Syrah gives very much tannins. After long storage the Syrah wine can develop flavours of plum, red berries and a certain smoky sense. Merlot Merlot is a blue grape which needs a lot of sun and heat to ripen fully and the wines can successfully be aged in oak barrels. The grape gives a full body wine with lesser tannins and acid then for example Cabernet Sauvignon. The most prominent flavour in Merlot is blackberry, plum and if the wine is aged in oak barrels a taste of coffee will appear. Wines made of the Merlot grape are very suitable to store for a longer time. Merlot is one of the grapes used in the famous Bordeaux Blends.