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France, Chinon

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.
The historic region of Chinon is home to some of the Loire Valley’s most celebrated Cabernet Franc wines. Unlike the rest of the Loire Valley, Chinon’s combined 19 communes (located on both sides of the Vienne River) produce predominately red wines, focusing almost exclusively on Cabernet Franc (with a small production of Rosé and Chenin Blanc also present).

Chinon is planted to more than 2,300 hectares of vines and has three main soil types: alluvial silt terraces made up of gravel and sand along the banks of the Vienne; Turonian chalk outcrops also along the river; and flinty Senonian clay and sand outcrops. The sand and gravel soils on the river’s flood plains produce light, elegant wines for early drinking while the clay and tuffeau limestone soil of the hillsides produce fuller-bodied wines meant for long aging.
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