In spite of being in the north of France, the predominantly white wines from the region of Alsace are rich, sometimes powerful, and always highly perfumed. The region enjoys its own micro-climate, protected down the west side by the Vosges mountain range, and is actually the driest wine region in France. Principal grapes grown are Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat, and wine styles can range from bone dry (Riesling is usually vinified in this way) to remarkably sweet and spicy but still balanced Gewurztraminers.
South of France
Important both in terms of value for money and for the large quantities of wine produced, the vineyards of this part of France are mostly split between two regions, Languedoc and Roussillon. For red wines, grape varieties grown are principally Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, blended in different proportions to create different styles, from herbal Corbieres to the silky Fitou and full-bodied Coteaux du Languedoc. The whites of Minervois are particularly pretty.
A second region known predominantly for its white wines is the Loire, where Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc reign. Chenin, like the Alsace varieties, can be transformed into different styles from dry to luscious, and wines made from this grape also show great ageing capability. The region struggles with its weather, making grape ripening a real challenge, and meaning that its red wines tend to be delicate. Rose wines also feature strongly, including the famous Rose d'Anjou, which is made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Pinot Noir.