A 'grand cru' tour of southern France

A few months after sampling the wines of the north of France, The Connexion heads south in search of the best Bordeaux, Provence, Languedoc and the Côtes du Rhône have to offer

Getting to know the wines of France is one of the joys of residence in ‘L’Hexagone’.

All over the country ‘vignerons’ are producing fabulous new wines as well as beloved old favourites. So much so in fact, that it can be hard to know what’s what, but a good start is grasping the layout of the main wine-producing regions.

Last November, we looked at the north of the country, and now we are turning our attention to vineyards in the south.

Even if your interest in wine is fleeting, these regions are wonderful places to explore.

BORDEAUX

The Bordeaux region of Nouvelle Aquitaine is one France’s top three wine-producing regions (along with Burgundy and Champagne).

With easy access to the Atlantic, it has traditionally been the country’s major wine-exporter. During the reign of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, it was England’s main wine supplier. Historically, red wines from this region have been referred to as ‘clarets’.

Appellation Bordeaux vineyards stretch 100kms north-south along the Gironde estuary, and the banks of the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.

The best-known specific appellations include Médoc, Graves and Saint- Emilion. The most prestigious are designated as ‘grand cru’ and just below that category are wines called ‘cru bourgeois’.

Among the Bordeaux ...

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