With over 3000 different wines produced in the country, France is one of the largest wine producers in the world. Visit 10 outstanding vineyards to soak up some of that heritage and taste some exceptional wine
Vineyards chosen by Dominic Rippon, France Magazine wine writer.
Domaine Virgile Joly, Languedoc
This family-run vineyard is located at the foot of the Larzac plains at St Saturnin de Lucian. The vineyard is dedicated to using organic farming methods to produce a chemical-free wine within the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc – Terrasses du Larzac. The grape varieties that are grown here are the Grenache blanc for white, and Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault for red. Long committed to wine tourism, vigneron Virgile Joly organises a wine and film night every August, when visitors can taste, watch an open-air film and eat dinner in the village square.
Domaine Cazes, Roussillon
The largest certified biodynamic estate in France, stretching over 220 hectares of land at Rivesaltes in the Pyrénées Orientales, Domaine Cazes produces 13 different wines every year. Grape varieties include Syrah, Grenache noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Muscat d’Alexandrie. It was created in 1895 by Michel Cazes and is today managed by his great grandsons. The vineyard includes a restaurant, La Table d’Aimé, named after Michel Cazes’ son, which uses organic ingredients. Live music is played on Tuesday evenings in the summer.
Domaine Maltoff, Burgundy
Located in the wine-growing region of the Auxerrois at Coulanges-la-Vineuse, this vineyard produces wines from the typical Burgundy varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Visitors can enjoy tastings of either white, rosé or red wines, all benefitting from the Bourgogne Coulanges la Vineuse designation, in the cellar as well as a visit of the estate. Odile and Jean-Pierre also offer cosy B&B accommodation and a table d’hôtes: a chance to taste the estate’s burgundies accompanied by homemade regional gastronomic specialities.
Vignoble Klur, Alsace
This wine estate was established in 1999 but has been producing wine since the 17th century. Located in the village of Katzenthal, in the centre of Alsace, the family run business concentrates on organic farming and biodynamic techniques and produces Wineck-Schlossberg white wine and Steinacker sweet wines. Vigneron Clément Klur hosts vineyard visits and tutored tastings and offers delicious meals and appetisers at the estate’s wine bar, Le KatZ. There is also a range of holiday accommodation on the estate or nearby.
Château Thieuley, Bordeaux
Sisters Marie and Sylvie Courselle make exceptional wines at their estate in Entre-Deux-Mers that was originally established in 1950 by their grandfather. They grow a variety of grapes with a majority of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc for whites and Merlot for red that all benefit from the Bordeaux designation. The estate prides itself in its search for innovation in order to produce top quality wines. They also run a B&B, le Clos Sainte Anne, and a wine club, le Club T, through which members learn about winemaking and enjoy tastings.
Domaine de Mourchon, Rhône
Bought by British entrepreneur Walter McKinlay in 1998, this estate, located above the little village of Séguret, produces a wide range of wines. They produce a white, a rosé and six reds, which include a Côtes-du-Rhône and a Châteauneuf du Pape, following a sustainable viticulture programme. The estate holds vineyard tours every Wednesday evenings (May to September) and group tastings with lunch in the vineyard. Gîte accommodation for up to ten people in the Winemaker’s House is also available with stunning views of the Mont Ventoux.
Domaine Jean-Charles Girard-Madoux, Savoie
In the Alpine foothills, with spectacular views of Mont Granier and the Belledonne range, this family estate in Chignin briefly left the Giard-Madoux family as Jean-Charles learned the trade of winemaker in Burgundy. In 2006, he took up the business once again and now produces well-reputed wines in the region. He offers whites, reds, a sparkling white and a rosé. Jean-Charles also prepares gastronomic meals in summer, which are taken outside among the vines, and cellar feasts in winter, accompanied by his estate’s wines.
Domaine de la Croix, Provence
Situated on the coast just south of Saint-Tropez, at the foot of the village of la Croix Valmer, this estate produces delicious Provence rosés since 1882. Now managed by the Bolloré Group, the vineyard stretches over 100 hectares and produces reds and whites as well as rosés, all under the AOC Côtes de Provence designation. The vineyard has spectacular underground wine warehouses which are often used for events and receptions. It is renowned locally for its lively vineyard events and the vineyard is available for visits.
Champagne Tarlant, Champagne
This family champagne house, boasts majestic views over the Marne Valley west of Épernay. Since 1687, they produce a wide range of champagnes deriving from several grape varieties including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Petit Meslier. The Tarlant family use traditional methods mixed with up to date techniques to ensure a high quality of wine is produced. Located in the little village of Oeuilly and across four hectares of land, it runs vineyard and cellar tours as well as tutored tastings of its impressive champagnes.
Caves Jean Bourdy, Jura
This fine biodynamic estate is located in the small town of Arlay across ten hectares and two designations: Côtes du Jura and Château-Chalon. The vineyard has been run by the family for fifteen generations. It produces Côtes du Jura in both white and red but also other traditional wines such as Vin de Paille. They also keep exceptional vintage bottles of wine in their cellar. It offers tastings within its 15th-century vaulted cellars, has its own family wine museum and organises walks in the mountainous vineyards of Jura.
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