France’s Major White Grape Varieties
Grape Variety and Region(s)
Chardonnay: Burgundy; Champagne; Languedoc
Chenin Blanc: Loire Valley
Sauvignon Blanc: Bordeaux; Loire Valley; southwestern France; Languedoc
Pinot Gris: Alsace
Pinot Blanc: Alsace
Marsanne: Rhône Valley
Muscadet: Loire Valley
Roussanne: Rhône Valley
Sémillon: Bordeaux; Southwest France
Viognier: Rhône Valley; Languedoc
France’s Major Red Grape Varieties
Grape Variety and Region(s)
Cabernet Sauvignon: Bordeaux; Southwest France; Languedoc
Cabernet Franc: Loire Valley; Bordeaux; Southwest France
Carignan: Rhône Valley; Southern France
Cinsault: Rhône Valley; Southern France
Grenache: Rhône Valley; Southern France
Merlot: Bordeaux; Southwest France; Languedoc
Malbec: Southwest France; Bordeaux
Mourvèdre: Rhône Valley; Southern France
Pinot Noir: Burgundy; Champagne
Syrah: Rhône Valley; Southern France
Source: Grape Varieties Grown in France – For Dummies
Beaune (pronounced somewhere between “bon” and “bone”) is about 20 mile south of Dijon in Bourgogne (Burgundy) and is the informal capital of the Côte d’Or wine region. It’s raison d’être both historically and nowadays truly seems to be wine. It’s a great place to make wine, buy wine, taste wine and of course, drink wine.
Luckily we arrived as the tourists had already gone home for the season and were able to enjoy the ancient feel of times-gone-by in this well-preserved walled town. Its windy cobbled streets and friendly squares sprinkled with cafés make it a splendid spot to ponder the rich historical and architectural heritage of the area, while sampling the region’s wine. And the wine is indeed quite fine. I have a French friend (born in Bourgogne, bien sûr) who has told me several times that Beaune is “the” best place in all of France for wine tasting. Surrounded by some of the world’s most celebrated wine villages, I would say, she definitely has a point.
In addition to being located smack dab in the middle of Burgundy wine country, Beaune also houses a marvelous Hôtel-Dieu, which dates back to 1443! Burgundy’s Philippe le Bon and his wife created this medieval charity hospital for the poor after the end of the 100 Years War. Although it is a bit dowdy and unassuming from the outside, once you step inside the courtyard you will delight in the intricate and colorfully tilled roofs, the lacy dressings and the inordinate number of weathervanes. It is a super interesting visit , one which I highly recommend.
If you are traveling without a car, it’s very easy to get to Beaune by train—only 30 minutes from Dijon, and quite simple to organize a wine tour once there.
bien sûr: of course, naturally
Hôtel-Dieu: religious hospital, charitable hospital
raison d’être: purpose, reason for being