France, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

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 north-eastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia ranks with Tuscany and Piedmont in terms of quality of output. Nearly 62% of the wine produced in the region falls under a DOC designation - there are 11 DOC and 3 DOCG regions.

The best vineyards in the region are in the foothills of the Alps, facing south to receive direct sunlight and cool evening breezes blowing off the Adriatic. The soil is rich in calcium and sandstone, with patches of sand and gravel.

The region's output is about 60% white and 40% red. Friulano is the most famous variety, known for creating crisp, floral whites with great ageing potential, and Merlot is the leading red wine grape. There has also been a revival of orange wine in the region of the past decade.
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