Wine was one of the first things that man created, and it has held a special place in many cultures. The history of wine is also an incredible story of technical innovation, as man applied his intelligence to the problems posed by the first chemical reactions that he encountered: fermentation and oxidation. No one can know who made the first wine. The great classical civilizations of Greece and Rome traced it back into their prehistory, and built legends around its discovery. Ancient Egypt has left us wine lists and wall paintings. Indeed, the Egyptians recorded the vintage, vineyard and winemaker on individual jars of wine: the first wine labels.
During the Roman Empire, wine cultivation extended to such a degree that there was a surplus. Due to this, in AD 92, an emperor passed a decree stating that all vineyards outside of Italy be uprooted. This led to considerable losses and later, when replanting was allowed, vineyards were established in many European countries including France, Germany and England. The Middle Ages however, saw little progress in the field of wine cultivation.
It was only after 1200 AD that many of the French monasteries managed wine cultivation. The French nobility also owned and cultivated many vineyards. Later, as a result of the French revolution, the Church was not given any power in cultivating and maintaining the vineyards. In the 1800's, the French wine industry suffered yet again as the French vineyards were attacked by many diseases, principally phylloxera, which is a small insect that destroys the roots of the vines. This was a major setback to the wine production of France and continued to be so until about 1880, when replanting vines along with the grafting of European vines with American rootstock proved to be a good solution to the problem.
French wine also suffered economically due to the two World Wars which led to a drastic reduction in the quality of French wine. As a result of this, the Appellation d'Origine Controlee (meaning "regulated origin name") or the A.O.C was devised. The A.O.C outlined the standards and laws regarding modern wine production and aided in defining the grape growing regions as well as protecting the quality of wine production. The A.O.C was instrumental in redeeming France's reputation for wine production and also in determining the standards for quality and consistency within the wine market in France.
Making wine is the blend of the farmer, horticulturist, and chemist’s skills. But above all it’s an art. The art to develop a unique product made with the heart and soul of a man: the winemaker. The man who will turns grapes into wine! The magical moment is there.
In Europe, the most visible words on a wine label refer to the place where the grapes were grown. In the New World, it is the opposite, the label is the name of the winemaker or the winery. This difference reveals two ways to see the wine industry. The European tradition and belief is that wine is made in the vineyard, by contrast, for the New World producers the wine is made in the winery.
The unique flavor of each wine is created by a combination of three principal factors, the climate, the soil and the landscape. It’s what we call “Terroir” in France; it will form the character of a vineyard and its wines. Temperature, distribution of rainfall, hours of sunlight, altitude, soil, wind, and many more factors make up a unique terroir.
Above all this is the combination of the terroir and the variety of the grape that will make the character and the flavor of a wine. The most important red grapes are the cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon - Bordeaux wines -, the pinot noir - Burgundy and Loire valley. The most famous white wine grapes are chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. There are between 7,000 to 10,000 different types of grapes in the world…500 are used for wine productions.
Sauvignon Blanc (White wine)
The Sauvignon, which is particularly sensitive to the quality of the terroir, achieves its more complex aromas in the vineyards of Centre-Loire. The origin of this grape variety is much debated (Centre or perhaps Southwestern France).
It presents characteristic bunches with coned-shaped, very tight berries, a thick skin, a firm and crisp flesh. It has characteristic aromas marked by the soil and the climate.
The character of wines is expressed more rapidly when they are grown in chalky soils. Marls and flinty-clay strata produce wines that need more time to develop and are long-term cellaring wines (from 2 to 5 years or even 10 years). The range of aromas developed in the Sauvignon wines is particularly rich and complex: the great taste of "flint" but also fruity notes (blackcurrant, passionfruit, lychee, orange, grapefruit, guava), floral notes (iris, elderberry, rose, acacia, linden), vegetal notes (box, broom, rhubarb, asparagus) and others such as musk or roasted meat.
Pinot Noir (Red wine)
Known in the region of Burgundy since the XIVth century, this grape variety is certainly even older. The bunch of the Pinot Noir is small and compact (pinecone-shaped) with little tight berries (ovoid-shaped) and with a thin and smooth blue-black-colored skin.
The juice of the Pinot Noir is colorless. The maceration of the skin (that contains the colored-pigments) with the juice during the alcoholic fermentation gives the Pinot Noir its nice cherry-red color with a slightly purple tinge. Because of its relative "fragility" it requires very specific production conditions including a climate neither too warm nor too cold and well drained soils (particularly chalky ones) in order to achieve its best expression.
For young wines, the bouquet is marked by morello cherry, violet, wood notes and with aging it is marked by aromas of game, truffle and cherries in brandy.
Gamay (Red wine)
The only grape used to make Beaujolais. Gamay is also grown in Southwest France and the Loire Valley. Vinified into a rosé, the resulting wine is fresh and aromatic. In traditional fermentation on the skins, it yields a red wine with very ripe fruit aromas, fresh and easy to drink.
Chasselas (White wine)
This is a less aromatic white variety still used in Alsace and Pouilly sur Loire, and has been largely supplanted by the Sauvignon Blanc. Grapes cultivated in Pouilly sur Loire were supplied to “Les Halles” in Paris in the middle of XIXth century for eating. It subsists on about 35 ha and gives fresh and light characteristics to the wine.
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