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Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.
Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.
Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)
The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
Although Armagnac is the oldest brandy distilled in France it has taken a back row seat to its more famous cousin Cognac. Not to be confused with Cognac (to the North of Bordeaux,) Armagnac lies between the Adour and Garonne rivers in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Armagnac was never produced in the same vast quantities that Cognac has been produced and as such, was and continues to be produced by mainly smaller, family-owned producers rather than the ‘big players’ in Cognac.
There are ten different grape varieties used in the production of Armagnac, but four grape varieties in particular provide the backbone for the majority of Armagnacs. Always blended, the four main grape varieties are Baco 22A, Colombard, Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc.
United Cellars import a wide range of Armagnacs from key producers such as Castarede, Chateau Tariquet, Comte de Lamaestre, Domaine d'Esperance, Ferme de Labouc, Francis Darroze, Gelas, Lacourtoisie and many more!
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