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France, Gigondas

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.
Gigondas was once known as 'Jucunditas' meaning 'joy and jubilation' in Latin. It's is a French wine Appellation (AOC) in the southern Rhône wine region, in the south of France. Primarily red wines are produced in the region, with a small amount of rosé wine also produced, though no white wines are labelled with the Gigondas appellation (AOC)

The Gigondas AOC wines are produced exclusively in the commune of Gigondas in Vaucluse and are generally made from Grenache (maximum of 80%) and a minimum of 15% each of Syrah and Mourvedre (GSM). Small amounts (up to 10%) of other sanctioned varieties are permitted, but Carignan is not allowed.

The region's terroir comprises a hot and dry Mediterranean climate (not unlike that of McLaren vale - a new world region well known for premium Grenache) and a mix of limestone soils (on the Montmirail hills to the east) and sandy, rocky free-draining soils to the north and west.

Due to the region's warmth (significantly warmer than Châteauneuf-du-Pape) the wines produced can carry rather high alcohol volumes and be full-bodied. When handled well, and by great producers, some exceptional wines can be borne of the region.
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