France is a critical contributor in the history of viticulture. It is the birthplace of many important grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Chenin Blanc. In addition, its government controlled classification and appellation systems had set an example for the wine systems in other European countries.

France Wine Regions
Key Regions
Key Varietals
1. Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot.
2. Burgundy Chardonnay (white). Pinot Noir (Red).
3. Rhone Valley Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre.
4. Loire Valley Chenin Blanc (white). Cabernet Franc (Red).
5. Champagne Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.
6. Alsace Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat.
7. Languedoc Rousillon Carignan, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.

France's Appellation

France Appellation Classification

Administered by the Institut National des Appellations d'Origine (INAO), France's classification system was established in 1935 to fight trade frauds and to differentiate wine quality.

All French wines are categorized into 4 levels of quality:

1855 Classification of the Left Bank

In 1855, the most prestigious chateau on the left bank (indicated by its market price at that time) were recognized and classified into 5 top grand cru classe. Wineries from the right bank such as St Emilion and Pomerol were excluded from the ranking. Chateau Haut Brion who played an influencing role in the classification was the only chateau included from the Pessac Leognon area; all the other chateaux are from the Medoc region.

To this date, the 1855 classification of the left bank has not been updated. Many argued that the ranking is quite outdated as some chateaux (Palmer, Pontet Canet for example) deserve a promotion and few others may deserve a demotion.

1855 Classification of Bordeaux

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