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Wines of France

French winemaking

It began in the 7th century BC. At this time, the Greeks-Phocians founded Massalia, the current city of Marseille. They taught the local people the art of cutting vines and making wine. The decisive role was played by the conquest of Gaul by the Romans in the 1st century BC. The Gauls were the first to use wooden barrels for transporting wine.

In ancient times, wine is kept for a long time. Many Greek and Roman wines, sealed in earthen vessels - amphoras - and buried in the cold ground, were kept there for 15-20 years, until they could be considered ready to use. The Gauls invented storing wine in wooden barrels, and the Romans used barrels to transport wine on ships, but they continued to use amphoras, corks and wax to store wine to keep the wine from coming into contact with air. With the collapse of the Roman Empire, the cork was no longer used, and with it the concept of wine aging was lost. In the Middle Ages, many wines were stored in barrels that were never covered; as a result of contact with the air, the wine gradually became more and more acidic, and most of them were drunk by the beginning of the harvest of the following year.

As a result of the invasion of the Germanic tribes in the 5th c. Gallic vineyards were almost completely destroyed. The church supported the wine, because wine was needed for the participle. In addition, monasteries often acted as a refuge for travelers. So monasteries contributed to the spread of winemaking. Feudal aristocracy also became interested in winemaking. For example, Charlemagne owned vineyards in Burgundy. The sovereigns tried to imitate the merchants, and winemaking spread more and more throughout France. In addition, the antiseptic properties of wine were discovered, and during epidemics, water was disinfected with wine. In the 13th century In the vicinity of Bordeaux, many vineyards appeared. Claret (as the British called red wines from the Bordeaux region) went to England. The significance of this route was so great that in England a barrel of wine was accepted as a unit for measuring the capacity of ships, and the modern ton came from its French name tonneau.

In Burgundy, Cistercian monks played a special role; they consistently engaged in selection, selecting the best vines, and introduced new pruning methods.

The transfer of the papal residence to Avignon at the beginning of the 14th century led to an increase in demand for wines from the Rhone region, and vineyards began to expand rapidly.

From the end of the 17th century in different wine-growing areas, increasing attention is paid to the quality of wines. Connoisseurs of aged wines appear.

At the beginning of the 19th century With the development of biochemistry, a scientific approach to winemaking arises. J.-A. Chaptal became famous for his work in this field. And in his honor, the addition of sugar to the wort is called chaptalization.

In 1863, a terrible disease that hit all the vineyards - phylloxera - a tiny insect of the aphid family, which feeds on the sap of leaves and roots, was brought from New World with saplings of American vines. It causes a drop in yield, and then the death of the vine. At first, the vineyards tried to simply flood. But this method could be applied only on the lowlands unsuitable for the production of high-quality wines. The decision was that classic French vines began to be grafted onto American roots, which are immune against phylloxera. The search for an effective remedy took almost 40 years. Some Bordeaux winemakers left in the nearest European countries, left without work. But phylloxera reached Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, etc. The invasion continued in the countries of the New World, where infected vines were taken. Only the vineyards of Chile, Cyprus, the Canary Islands, Egypt, Afghanistan and the countries of the former USSR remained intact.

As a result, a large number of high-yielding vineyards appeared, which led to overproduction and a fall in wine prices. Wines were often falsified, and in 1905 the foundations of legislation regulating the manufacture of high-quality wines were laid. In 1935, a law was passed on the introduction of a system of controlled items by origin.

French wine classification

Appellation d'Origine Controlee- (AОС) - “Controlled Origin Names”. This level is inextricably linked with the concept of Appelacion - this is a regulatory system that guarantees the authenticity of wines produced in a particular territory. Much of the French vineyards are divided into appellasony. The most prestigious French wines.

To belong to this category, the wine must meet the following requirements:

grapes must be grown and the wine itself produced in a certain limited area;

only certain grape varieties can be used;

only established methods of cultivation of grapes and winemaking can be used;

wine output per hectare of vineyard can not exceed the established maximum;

the strength of the wine can not be below the minimum, the year of harvest on the label must be indicated.

All these strict rules are enshrined in a special government decree for which a specially created body, the National Institute of Names of Origin (INAO), is responsible.

(VDQS) - “Wines of the Established Top Quality by Origin” - these are relatives of AOC wines, most wines belonging to this category, subsequently moving to a higher level. The rules for them are the same as for AOC wines, but they give more space, for example, in the choice of grape varieties or in the volumes of maximum production. Basically, all the wines of this category are drunk on the domestic market.
Vins de Pays - Local Wines - wines belonging to a specific region, produced in a specific wine-growing region from grapes cultivated in this region.
Vins de Table - Table wines - these wines, the place of production of which is not indicated on the label.
The year on these wines is not indicated, since they are blended. Despite the fact that this is the lowest category in the classification, these wines meet reasonable standards and usually have constant characteristics. Grapes can be used both from the territory of France and from the territory of the EU (European Community) countries.
At the end of 2011, new classification rules will come into force, which will look like this:

AOC¦ AOP “Appellation d’Origine Protégée (Name of Protected Origin)”;
VDP ¦ IGP “Indication Geographique Protégée (Protected Geographical Name)” or VIN DE FRANCE;
VDT ¦ VIN DE FRANCE SANS IG "Without specifying a geographic area."
Wine regions of France

The main regions of France:

Loire Valley
Rhone Valley,
Yura - Savoy,
Northern regions:

Champagne, Alsace, Burgundy.

Central regions:

Cognac, Bordeaux, Loire Valley, Rhone Valley.

Southern regions:

Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, Corsica, South-West, Cognac, Jura, Savoy.

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