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By country :: France

AlsaceAlsace  Alsace is, in my opinion, the region which produces the best and widest range of wines from aromatic grape varieties. Despite the fact it has a very strong regional identity and many owners embrace organic and biodynamic principles, I believe Alsace never really receives the due credit for the fantastic wines that it produces. It is true that the regions markets and language are Germanic, but the “Alsacien” soul is undoubtedly French – it could be said that producers in the Alsace make wines from Germanic grape varieties but following the French way, capitalising fully on the unique climate, soil and grape varieties that this region has to offer. In the near future, I hope to see an increase in wines from Alsace on restaurant wine lists, as personally I think they provide an ideal match for a really wide range of food, from traditional French to Asian and fusion. Richard There are 14 products in this category.BeaujolaisBeaujolaisA summer barbecue in the sunshine with good friends is the perfect accompaniment to a light, fruity, very slightly chilled Beaujolais. Gamay is undoubtedly the region's flagship grape variety, although a small amount of white Beaujolais is also produced, using Chardonnay or Aligoté. The vast majority of Beaujolais should be drunk in its youth, and its juicy fruitiness comes from a process during vinification known as carbonic maceration, which encourages the fruit flavours, rather than tannins, to the fore. There are certain Beaujolais, however, that do show the ability to age wonderfully. There are five different classifications of Beaujolais: Beaujolais Nouveau, Beaujolais, Beaujolais Supérieur, Beaujolais-Villages and 10 Beaujolais Crus. There are 6 products in this category.BordeauxBordeauxAs a wine merchant, it is always important to have a quality selection of wines from the Bordeaux region, but this is all the more important for us as there are very strong historical links between Britain and the Bordeaux area. It still commands a lot of respect all over the world, particularly in the emerging markets of China and India, as well as more traditional wine drinking nations. The bottom line is that, when it comes to blending the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, no region is able to produce the same quality than Bordeaux and the highly skilled winemakers that base themselves in the region. Despite being best known for wines fetching record sale prices in auction houses across the globe, Bordeaux also produces a number of quality entry to mid-range wines that offer excellent value for money. Among these, Château le Grand Verdus is a personal favourite, while we are also delighted to add Château Fonbel St Emilion Grand Cru to our list, a wine produced by the Famille Vauthier, owners of arguably the most famous Château in St Emilion, Château Ausone. PhilippeThere are 18 products in this category.
BurgundyBurgundyAs a child, my parents drank Bordeaux wines, so it wasn’t until my later life that I discovered the true wonders of Burgundy. Now however, like many wine fanatics, I believe Burgundy to be the true epitome of quality winemaking, as it revolves around the terroir and the craftsmanship of the winemakers themselves. One of the most notable differences regarding the region compared to other well-known wine-making areas is that, when dealing with Burgundy producers, you contact the producer directly. In the case of other regions, including Bordeaux, your requests are more commonly forwarded to a sales manager or other representative. In my opinion, that typifies just how personal the Burgundy wine-making process is, despite global commercial success, vineyards are still run and owned by passionate local farmers rather than large co-operatives. The obvious problem with Burgundy wines is that, as a result of major worldwide demand brought about by their often unparalleled quality, it is very hard to secure good allocations from top producers. To underline the demand, despite the global recession, this year, exports from Burgundy have risen by 13%! It is my view however, that although they are often inaccessible and relatively expensive, Burgundy wines deliver excellent quality as well as great value for money. Burgundy is home to numerous young, quality minded producers who, in an effort to raise the quality bar in the region, are pushing for higher restrictions and higher quality requirements to qualify for the Appellation. This will undoubtedly lead to wines becoming more expensive, but importantly it will protect the true essence of Burgundy wines that has ensured their position at the forefront of global wine production for over a century. RichardThere are 30 products in this category.ChampagneChampagneI was very privileged to become an ‘old boy’ when I spent a week in the summer of 2006 at the Champagne Academy in Reims. It was an amazing opportunity to devote time to enhancing my knowledge of Champagne by tasting incredible Champagnes from the 16 ‘Grandes Marques’. My hope of celebrating with more Champagne the result of the World Cup Final was unfortunately destroyed by my compatriot Zidane who had other ideas! True Champagne is unique and is prized around the world. l’Art du Vin has decided to introduce a wide range of wines from this region, from small independent producers offering quality at entry level, such as Dangin, to the prestigious Grandes Marques like Pol Roger, Dom Pérignon, Krug or Ruinart. These wines need no introduction. l’Art du Vin is particularly delighted to represent the family-owned and independent Maison Dampierre. Under the control of the Comte, the quality and consistency of the Champagne produced offers excellent value for money. Santé! PhilippeThere are 22 products in this category.LanguedocLanguedocThese days, the Languedoc is viewed as the region in France which most closely resembles the wine growing conditions and philosophy of the New World, so much so that a number of Aussies, Kiwis and a handful of Brits have settled in the region to establish new wineries. Despite the fact that vines have been present in the region since the times of the Romans, the Languedoc has only emerged as a wine growing region to be reckoned with in the past 20 years. Prior to that date, the viticulture of the Languedoc had been dominated by co-operatives and large producers, creating wines which were uninteresting and mass produced. Now though, the INAO (the French body that governs appellations) has identified specific appellations that they regulate and manage, giving a new breed of young, passionate and quality driven producers the opportunity to establish small independent vineyards. Countless small producers have emerged and as a result, the quality of production in the region has increased dramatically. By combining the terroirs and modern techniques, Languedoc is able to offer approachable, Mediterranean style wines that are terrific value for money. This year, we have introduced a new range of entry level wines called Terre des Olivettes which offers excellent value for money. We are also delighted to have added two stunning, small boutique wineries which we highly recommend, namely Clos Fantine in Faugères and a white Minervois from Domaine Cros, quite simply as it was the best white wine from the region that we tasted last year! PhilippeThere are 14 products in this category.
LoireLoireThe Loire Valley is a region close to my heart, having spent my formative years growing up in this beautiful area. Home of vineyards since the Roman times, the Loire has always been a region that showcased fine wines, and this trend continues to this day, particularly thanks to the emergence of a number of young and independent producers, many of whom embrace sustainable, organic and biodynamic principles. At just 29, Jonathan Pabiot is our youngest producer. The success of his Pouilly Fumé has led many of Jonathan’s peers to suggest he shall follow in the footsteps of Didier Dagueneau, identified as one of the greatest winemakers the Loire valley has ever produced. His initiative and originality is displayed in his attempts to revive Chasselas, the original grape variety in Pouilly. In fact, Jonathan’s work is so well respected that his father, who previously had an estate of his own, has started working under his son’s tutelage, as he believes he makes better wines! Recently, I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Vincent Gaudry’s top cuvée Sancerre “A mi chemin” – meaning “half way to heaven” - as a birthday present. This is a wine which unfortunately does not feature on our list, as Vincent only produces 260 bottles, and even then, only if it is a good vintage! It was quite simply, however, the best white wine I have ever had the pleasure to drink, so it is definitely one to look out for. RichardThere are 26 products in this category.ProvenceProvenceProvence's reputation as a wine-producing region has been gathering speed recently, and while its principal ambassador is undoubtedly rosé, there are now a good deal of impressive reds around too. It is the sunniest and driest region in France, and because of this the region does not suffer from many of the fungal diseases that affect other areas. This makes it very well suited to organic viticulture, a methodology and philosophy we always endeavour to champion. Varieties that flourish here include Grenache, Cinsaut, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tibouren and Rolle.There are 6 products in this category.PyreneesPyreneesThere is 1 product in this category.
RhoneRhoneRHÔNE Rhône is one of, if not the oldest winemaking region in the whole of France. There is evidence of vines being cultivated in these parts as early as 800 BC, and widespread knowledge of its use as the winegrowing region for Romans under the leadership of Julius Caesar, before the Gaul conquest of 53AD. The region itself is divided into two distinct areas, that showcase very different terroirs and climates. That to the north, known as Rhône Septentrionale, is far cooler, creating perfect conditions for the production of very elegant, lean wines using Syrah grapes. Contrastingly Rhône Meridionale, in the south, experiences a far more Mediterranean climate, ensuring the widespread use of grapes dependant on slightly milder temperatures, such as Grenache and Mourvèdre. Generally speaking, The Rhône is best known for the quality of its reds, but white wines from the area are criminally underrated. Local grape varieties Roussanne and Marsanne are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve, especially in the Australian market, and provide a fantastic alternative to Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. We at l’Art du Vin are particularly pleased to continue our association with Domaine Ferraton, in the north of the region, and Domaine Duseigneur in the south. Both are very good independent producers who we believe continue to produce excellent wines that our customers evidently enjoy! PhilippeThere are 14 products in this category.RoussillonRoussillonRoussillon, despite often being hitched nominally to the Languedoc (Languedoc-Roussillon), has its own unique scenery, culture and viticultural history. Traditionally it products are rich sweet wines, namely Banyuls and Maury; however the region is now producing increasingly noteworthy unfortified wines. Roussillon's main grape varieties are Grenache, Grenache Blanc and Muscat.There are 3 products in this category.South-west of FranceSouth-west of FranceThe south west of France is a very interesting winemaking region, primarily due to the fact it is home to a huge variety of indigenous grape varieties. This ensures that wines from this region provide a great alternative for restaurateurs, whose wine lists are, more often than not, dominated by international grape varieties such as Chardonnay or Cabernet. South western wines, as well as often being unique in their grape blend, also offer great value for money. Furthermore, they are very food friendly, providing ample support to many dishes, particularly suiting those typical of this gastronomy-proud region, delights such as cassoulet and a wide range of confits among others. This year, we had the pleasure of welcoming two of our south-western producers to our annual ‘Meet the Producers’ tasting. It was very reassuring to see two producers, namely Didier Barré from Domaine Berthoumieu in Madiran and Pascal Verhaege from Château du Cèdre in Cahors, who were both extremely passionate as well as down to earth and fun. It became apparent that their wines are truly an expression of terroir, and they make wines utilising their traditional methods and local customs, rather than attempting to roll out commercially pleasing wines to please famous American wine writers. Both also displayed the mantra that, in their eyes, they are craftsmen, not businessmen; being a ‘vigneron’ is not a profession, but rather a privileged position as a custodian to their land that must be cherished and embraced. RichardThere are 17 products in this category.
Drink Aware Adelphi Distillery Cook School by Martin Wishart The Cannonberg Project Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa and Island Wine & Spirit Education Trust WSET approved programme provider
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