Eat + Drink

8 Gorgeous French Wine Regions to Visit That Aren’t Bordeaux

Bordeaux is to France what Napa Valley and Sonoma are to the States—a wine country paradise along its country’s southwestern coast home to some of the world’s most famous vineyards. There’s more to France, however, than its most-visited vino locale.

From the birthplace of rosé to the sparkling capital of Champagne, here are eight wine regions that should definitely be on your radar.

Provence

#Yeswayrosé may be a trending hashtag, but this phrase is one that Provence has been heralding for centuries since Greeks first arrived with vines in 600 B.C. Home to the world’s largest region specializing in rosé, the lavender-filled fields of Provence open up to gorgeous vineyards where the summertime rosé craze is a year-round affair.

Rent a car and make your way to two of Provence’s most famous wineries, Minuty and Château d’Esclans, where the first “haute rosé” (titled Whispering Angel) is blended and bottled.

Looking to squeeze in some fitness between tasting sessions? Hike the trails surrounding Château Gassier‘s organic vineyards, nested at the foot of Mont Sainte-Victoire, or embark on a 155-mile cycling and yoga tour with Ride & Seek, pausing to sample Provençal specialties like tapenades and truffles along the way.

Champagne

french wine regions
Inside the Champagne region’s oldest winery, Maison Ruinart. (Photo: Alamy)

Despite the fact that nearly three billion coupes of Champagne are sipped around the globe each year, this wine region has never gotten the same kind of love as the castle-covered Loire—despite being just a 40-minute fast-train ride from Paris.

Start in the unofficial capital of Reims, home to major maisons (Champagne houses) like Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, and Mumm. Over 300 miles of trails snake their way through the region’s vineyards along the Champagne Tourist Route, but if you only have time to visit one winery, make a reservation at the region’s oldest, Maison Ruinart, where you can tour 800-year-old chalk quarries turned Champagne cellars that wind their way 125 feet underground.

For something on the more artisanal side, rent a car and head to the neighboring town of Œuilly, where three generations still reign over family-run Champagne Tarlant.

Back in Reims, start the evening with tapas at laid-back Le Coq Rouge or save your appetite for the tasting menu at haute Japanese-French fusion eatery Racine.

Occitanie

Champagne steals the spotlight when it comes to sparkling wine, but Dom Pérignon—the monk credited with “inventing” Champagne—was actually inspired in the town of Limoux, in Languedoc.

Languedoc-Roussillon encompasses the largest wine region on the globe and has long moved past its days as a “wine lake” of mass-produced vino for France’s troops. More recently, biodynamic winemakers like Gérard Bertrand (who oversees nine estates alone) have helped turn this region’s reputation around thanks to annual events like the wine-themed Jazz Festival.

When you’re ready to dine, rosé-fueled afternoons seep into evening apéros (pre-dinner drinks) at boho-chic beach bar Mamamouchi.

Loire Valley

french wine regions
A winery in one of the region’s many chateaus. (Photo: Getty Images)

Stretching over 600 miles from Nantes (the gateway city) to Sancerre, the Loire Valley is the longest wine route in France and just as famous for its châteaux as its wines.

Castles lining the “Valley of the Kings” open up as museums honoring famous residents like Leonardo da Vinci (who called the former royal residence Le Clos Lucé home) in addition to gastronomic restaurants like Saumur’s seasonally focused La Table du Château Gratien.

Over 1,000 vineyards are open to the public, but we’ve helped narrow down the list to three top picks: Vignobles Mourat, Domaine des Gauletteries, and Domaine du Closel in Savennières.

Rhône Valley

french wine regions
Enjoy the exceptional cuisine — and wine — in Lyon. (Photo: Getty Images)

The second-largest wine area in France, the Rhône Valley boasts a wine history stemming back 2,000 years. Today, the region extends from Vienne to Nîmes and Avignon and counts classics like Châteauneuf-du-Pape as part of its vino portfolio.

Get your bearings in the gastronomic capital of Lyon, admiring views over the Rhône river from panoramic eatery Les Trois Dômes (whose wine menu is just as impressive as its starred cuisine). For something on the more modern (read: hipster) side, take a seat at vintage-inspired Les Raffineuses, a bistro by day and tapas bar by night.

Burgundy

Ah, Bourgogne, the land of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This sliver in northeast France stretches 75 miles from Dijon in the north to Mâcon in the south and, despite being home to only three percent of France’s vines, grows some of the world’s most prized pinots.

Begin in the region’s wine capital of Beaune at the 130-year-old, family-run Maison Joseph Drouhin, whose historical cellars sit underneath the city center.

Burgundy is the true definition of terroir, and while the area’s wine is one way to get a sense of the land, food is another. (After all, this is the region known for classic stews like boeuf bourguignon and coq au vin.) In town, chef Mourad Haddouche also weaves farm-fresh fare into dishes at his Michelin-starred restaurant, Loiseau des Vignes.

It wouldn’t be a wine town without wine bars, and La Dilettante (which doubles as a gourmet market) is one of the local hot spots. From Beaune, hit the road and head north on the hour-and-a-half drive to Chablis, a town that could easily be the backdrop in Beauty and the Beast.

Peruse the cellars of Domaine Laroche, which has been aging wines since the Middle Ages, and tour the 9th-century Obédiencerie monastery where Chablis was born before getting to the main attraction: a wine tasting followed by a picnic (packed with Chablis, of course) right in Laroche’s vineyards.

This article was published through a partnership with Jetsetter magazine. Read the original story: 8 Gorgeous Wine Regions to Visit in France That Aren’t Bordeaux by Lane Nieset, a regular contributor to Jetsetter.

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