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Inspiration & Advice

Focus on France

Champagne on ice with glasses waiting

Rhône

The Rhône Valley is home to some of the oldest vineyards in France and is the spiritual home of many Mediterranean grape varieties. Divided into two distinct areas, the region produces a diverse range of wines that are excellent for enjoying now but can also be cellared to mature and develop.

In the north, powerful reds are made from Syrah as well as some exquisite whites in the slightly cooler climate.

Heading south, the hills disperse and a sea of vines appears; this is Grenache country, arguably home to some of the best-value red wines in the world. The reds here are full of sun-drenched spicy fruit and really lend themselves to food.

Explore our region guide below to discover more about the variety of styles and flavours the Rhône produces.

Shop Rhone

Bordeaux

Bordeaux, in south-west France, is home to many of the world’s finest wines. It’s renowned for deep, velvety reds (known by the British as claret), elegant, dry whites and deliciously sweet dessert wines.

The Bordeaux region is divided by the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. On the 'left bank' of the Gironde, the Médoc area grows varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Across the river on the ‘right bank’, the undulating countryside is home to communes such as Saint-Émilion and Pomerol and the larger areas of the Côtes de Blaye, Bourg and Castillon

area typically enjoys hotter summers than the Médoc, making it ideal for growing Merlot.

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Loire

The Loire Valley is a vast and hugely important winemaking region in Northern France. From sparkling rosé to white Pouilly-Fumé and Anjou red, the wines all have a common character: they are light, delicate, refreshing and charming.

The Loire is France’s longest river, and a mosaic of vineyards run alongside much of its length. The region can be divided into three areas and it produces a diverse spectrum of wine styles, predominantly white wine.

It is the home of big names such as Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Vouvray and Touraine, yet is also grows unusual varieties such as Melon de Bourgogne and Pineau d’Aunis. Loire reds are usually made from Cabernet Franc, while the whites are either Chenin Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc.

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Champagne

Champagne, to the east of Paris, is renowned for producing some of the world's most elegant, luxurious and prestigious sparkling wines. The reason for this lies in its prized 'terroir'. It is a cool region, leading to grapes that might not be ripe enough to make still wine, but are perfect for traditional method sparkling wines.

The are chalky soils help bring refinement to wines that are made from three predominant varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Pinot Meunier copes best with the chilly climate and so is planted in the cooler areas such as the Marne Valley and the Aisne vineyards.

All the different villages in the region are given a 'score' for how good their grapes can be, and this is how the villages can be awarded Grand Cru status.

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Burgundy

Burgundy is the birthplace of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and produces a vast array of wine styles from these varieties. The region begins just south of Paris and stretches further south to Lyon.

The vineyards are often tiny and production of individual wines can be minuscule, but this prestigious region is responsible for some of the finest, most famous wines in the world.

The cooler climate of the north favours production of white wines with incredible purity and freshness such as Chablis. Further south, the Côte d’Or (or ‘Golden Slopes’) produces excellent reds, while the warmer climate of the Mâcon gives rise to juicy, ripe wines such as Pouilly-Fuissé.

At the very bottom lies Beaujolais, a distinct region in its own right, producing vibrant and supple wines that are very popular.

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A Message from the buyer

"From the riversides of the Loire and the cool vineyards of Champagne, down to the dry, windswept hillsides of the Rhône and the bright, sunny Mediterranean coastal vineyards, France really can offer a wine for every palate and every occasion. With a long and prestigious winemaking history that is said to pre-date the
Roman occupation, France
has been hugely important
in shaping today's global
wine industry, through
the development of
grape varieties as well
as winemaking
techniques."
Xenia Irwin
Waitrose,
Wine Buyer

★ Recommended for you

Blason des Papes Châteauneuf-du-Pape

"Drank it with friends and we all agreed it was a delicious red - very well rounded with a good bouquet."
jmpwor, South coast
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Cave des Vignerons de Chablis, Petit Chablis

""Perfect wine for a chilled evening in. This Petit Chablis has a wonderful depth of flavour and a smoothness to it.""
Chrissie, Oxford
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Château Liversan Haut-Médoc

"Delicious! Great example of an excellent NZ Pinot Grigio. I wasn't expecting the pink hue but it added to my enjoyment."
CaptainJack, Southampton
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The best of Rhône

Need some advice?

Whether you are catering for 2 or 200 our Wine Specilaists are on hand to help you with any food and wine pairing queries you may have. Either drop them an email waitrosecellar@waitrose.co.uk or to speak to one of the call 03456100304

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