FRANCE

France is your friend who comes for tea, eats your biscuits, rearranges your furniture and tells you your pants are looking tight, but still you find her totally captivating. She’s so damn charming that even her flaws are endearing. In the wine industry, France is considered ground zero. Sure, it makes its share of crappy table wine, (so does everywhere else!), but what France does best is deceptively simple: puts the focus on place and origin.

Compared to its regional neighbours, the French wine narrative is quite straightforward: there are less than 20 main wine regions and just over 50 grape varieties. Thanks to the relatively strict controls around wine production that most regions enforce, there is a sense of tradition, consistency and legacy that beautifully circumvents trends and fads. There are exceptions, of course, but all things considered, France is the classic place to start when you tackle the world of Euro-vin. Or is that vin-Euro?

If pinot noir has a home, it’s in Burgundy; but there’s more to French pinot than Burgundy. Here are some other pinot noir producing regions in France for you to try.

Words by Clare Burder

Champagne

If Beyonce is Champagne, then pinot noir from that same region is the Discover Weekly section on Spotify. There are some gems there, but you’ve got to do some digging. The main region is called Coteaux Champenois Rouge. It covers the same area as sparkling Champagne, but refers to only still wines. It’s hard to find but if you do, you’ll find the wine to be fragrant and delicate.

Chablis

Chablis is famous for chardonnay but alas, pinot noir gets a nod here too. It doesn’t have its own appellation so the bottle will say ‘Bourgogne Rouge’ on the label. It’s silky and delicious.

 

Burgundy

Burgundy’s the sort of guy who wears a tux to breakfast (intimidating!) but once you sit him down and remove the gloves and top hat, you’ll find he’s just plain old wine. And by that, I mean momentously expensive, symbolic, historically significant, scarce and captivating, but still – wine. Tread with caution and deep pockets. Expect powerful flavours and savoury tones.

Alsace

Pinot noir from Alsace is in the shadow of riesling and pinot gris, but is worth seeking out for its evocative profile of dark berries and wild florals.  

Loire

This is one for the treasure hunters, the people who wander past the classics (in this case, chenin blanc and cabernet franc) in search of something special. Mostly planted in central and eastern Loire, pinot noir here wears many guises. From rosé and lighter styles, into deeper, more savoury tones and even in some intriguing blends. Get exploring.

Jura

Jura pinot noir is all about French flavour wrapped around Swiss structure. What does that mean? Lots of fleshy, bright, red fruit flavours built around porcelain-like acidity; strong and fine. Much like those fancy sommeliers that adore these wines.

Champagne

If Beyonce is Champagne, then pinot noir from that same region is the Discover Weekly section on Spotify. There are some gems there, but you’ve got to do some digging. The main region is called Coteaux Champenois Rouge. It covers the same area as sparkling Champagne, but refers to only still wines. It’s hard to find but if you do, you’ll find the wine to be fragrant and delicate.

Chablis

Chablis is famous for chardonnay but alas, pinot noir gets a nod here too. It doesn’t have its own appellation so the bottle will say ‘Bourgogne Rouge’ on the label. It’s silky and delicious.

Burgundy

Burgundy’s the sort of guy who wears a tux to breakfast (intimidating!) but once you sit him down and remove the gloves and top hat, you’ll find he’s just plain old wine. And by that, I mean momentously expensive, symbolic, historically significant, scarce and captivating, but still – wine. Tread with caution and deep pockets. Expect powerful flavours and savoury tones.

Alsace

Pinot noir from Alsace is in the shadow of riesling and pinot gris, but is worth seeking out for its evocative profile of dark berries and wild florals.  

Loire

This is one for the treasure hunters, the people who wander past the classics (in this case, chenin blanc and cabernet franc) in search of something special. Mostly planted in central and eastern Loire, pinot noir here wears many guises. From rosé and lighter styles, into deeper, more savoury tones and even in some intriguing blends. Get exploring.

Jura

Jura pinot noir is all about French flavour wrapped around Swiss structure. What does that mean? Lots of fleshy, bright, red fruit flavours built around porcelain-like acidity; strong and fine. Much like those fancy sommeliers that adore these wines.