Wines named after towns!

Wines named after towns!

The vineyards of Bordeaux, The vineyards of Burgundy, The vineyards of Languedoc and Roussillon, The vineyards of the Rhône Valley, The vineyards of Provence, The vineyards of the Loire Valley, The vineyars of Beaujolais, The vineyards of Alsace, The vineyards of Bergerac, The vineyards of the Southwest, The vineyards of Cognac and Pineau des Charentes, The vineyards of Armagnac, The vineyards of the Jura

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Chablis, Saint-Emilion, Bergerac, Sancerre… These world-famous appellations, or ‘denominations of origin’, are also the names of well-known French towns and villages. Linked by their history to wine and the wine trade, these communes also have a rich heritage of monuments, curiosities and tourist sites just waiting to be discovered. Why not prolong your wine-tasting trip by exploring these places, where wines, history, landscapes and customs go hand in hand.

The wines of Saint-Emilion (Aquitaine, Gironde)This appellation has a long list of Grands Crus Classés and fifteen Premiers Grands Crus Classés to its name, making it an exceptional wine-growing region, whose red wines are served at the world’s finest tables. But in the midst of the vineyards is the village of Saint-Emilion, a medieval site full of character, surrounded by hillsides, châteaux, a monolithic church (pictured on some labels) and the beauty of a landscape that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Tourist office: www.saint-emilion-tourisme.com

The wines of Margaux (Aquitaine, Gironde)Margaux is indissociable from Château Margaux, one of the most highly regarded wines on the planet, and one of 19 Crus Classés of this appellation. Produced in the Médoc, these wines have a characteristic subtle, delicate and exquisite finish, which is the source of their reputation. They also benefit from a geographical setting close to the Gironde estuary, with its mild, protected climate. Surrounded by vines as far as the eye can see, the village of Margaux is noteworthy for its typical Médoc architecture in luminous yellow stone, and many neighbouring châteaux dotted amongst the vines.Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Tourist office: www.medoc-tourisme.com

The wines of Pauillac (Aquitaine, Gironde)The Pauillac appellation covers some one hundred producers, including famous châteaux such as Château Lafite, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild. These Médoc wines are characterised by pronounced tannins when young, which lessen with time, giving way to red fruit aromas when mature. The capital of the Médoc, Pauillac is home to an amazing robot museum and is the ideal starting point for walks to some beautiful wine estates or cycle rides over to the Gironde estuary.Grape varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Tourist office: www.pauillac-medoc.com The wines of Loupiac (Aquitaine, Gironde)This highly acclaimed white dessert wine is ideally served as an aperitif or with dessert. It is also the name of a small village, less well known but equally appealing, with its little church nestled in the vines and looking down over the valley of the Garonne.Grape varieties: Sémillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle Tourist office: www.cadillac-tourisme.com

The wines of Sauternes (Aquitaine, Gironde)This appellation of only 1 900 hectares is one of the most famous dessert wines of the Bordeaux region and covers five communes, of which Sauternes itself is the emblem. Renowned as a subtle accompaniment to foie gras, these delicate, sweet wines with "toasted" hints have in their ranks the famous Château Yquem. The village is noted for the attractive sandy stone of its façades and the charm of its vineyards, which change colour with the seasons and the light. Bathed by the River Ciron, the surrounding countryside is ideal for walks or cycle rides to explore the commune’s fine châteaux. Grape varieties: Sémillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle Tourist office: www.sauternais-graves-langon.com

The wines of Nuits Saint-Georges (Burgundy, Côte d’Or )The village of Nuits Saint-Georges gave its name to the Côte de Nuits, which begins to the south of Dijon. These mainly red wines of great renown have an intense, perfumed bouquet. Attractive, even hillsides rise above the town with its rich heritage: belfry, churches, market hall, hospice and narrow streets marked by time. A museum retraces the history of Nuits, from its first Gallo-Roman inhabitants up to the present day. Grape varieties: Pinot Noir Tourist office: www.ot-nuits-st-georges.fr

The wines of Meursault (Burgundy, Côte d’Or )The red wines of this appellation are produced in the north, the white wines in the south. There are signs of wine having been produced here as early as the 11th century; today, 2.5 million bottles are produced each year. Known particularly for its subtle, fruity whites, the wines of Meursault are enjoyed for their hints of apple, almond and hazelnut. The town has changed little over time, and the local economy is still based on the wine trade. Peaceful and well kept, the town boasts winegrowers' houses, châteaux, a tour of its mustard factory, the leper house, and a fine town hall.Grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot BlancTourist office: www.ot-meursault.fr

The wines of Chablis (Burgundy , Côte d’Or )Around the world, Chablis is without a doubt one of Burgundy’s most famous crus. This region of about 5 000 hectares covers 20 communes, which produce Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. With a reputation for being the ideal accompaniment to platters of seafood or cheeses, these mellow white wines can be enjoyed young, offering a dry, fruity nose. It seems time has stood still in the village, with its old buildings, charming old houses, promenade along the banks of the River Serein, and a few turrets and towers dating back to the Middle Ages. Grape varieties: Chardonnay Tourist office: www.chablis.net

The wines of Mâcon (Burgundy , Côte d’Or )Known traditionally for its red wines, this appellation is today Burgundy’s leading white wine producing region. Light, dry and reasonably priced, these wines go perfectly with all meals. The town, known since the Romans and one of the biggest in the region, is crossed by the River Saône. It is famous for its cathedral of Saint Vincent, built by Napoleon I, and the Romanesque church of Saint Pierre, with its highly ornate stone filigree. To round off this fine heritage are a medieval old town, 12th-century fortified bridge, Ursuline museum and apothecary. Grape varieties: Chardonnay Tourist office: www.macon-tourism.com

The wines of Banyuls (Languedoc-Roussillon, Pyrénées-Orientales )Created in 1936, the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC, or ‘controlled denomination of origin’) of Banyuls is one of the oldest in France. These delicious sweet red wines have a natural sugar content of 100 g per litre, making them a tasty accompaniment to cheese or dessert. Inhabited since ancient times, the town looks out over the Mediterranean and has preserved all of its historic character and Catalan culture, with its old buildings and traditional festivals. In the bay, bordered by the promenade and the beach, a succession of fishing boats are to be seen gazing towards the lofty Pyrenees mountains that rise in the distance.Grape varieties: GrenacheTourist office: www.banyuls-sur-mer.com

The wines of Fitou (Languedoc-Roussillon, Pyrénées-Orientales )Since 1948, the wines of Fitou have been recognised as an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or ‘controlled denomination of origin’).The vineyards cover 2 600 hectares and nine communes, and produce smooth red wines full of character with light fruit flavours. The commune is noteworthy for its medieval château overlooking the town, and its proximity to Lake Leucate and the Mediterranean beyond. Visitors are charmed by its narrow streets with their ancient cobbles, the 11th-century church and the two Chappe’s semaphore towers, which formed part of the Narbonne-Perpignan semaphore line in the 19th century.Grape varieties: Carignan, Grenache Noir Tourist office: www.fitou.fr

The wines of Beaumes de Venise (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur,Vaucluse)These Muscat wines with their very particular sweetness and sugary notes go perfectly with foie gras, fruit or chocolate. Promoted in 2005 to the rank of Cru de la Vallée du Rhône, the red wines preserve their fine reputation. Protected by the Dentelles de Montmirail chain of mountains, this Provençal hilltop village consists of ochre-tiled houses, Romanesque chapels, narrow streets, an oil mill, village squares and the remains of troglodyte caves carved out of the rock.Grape varieties: Muscat Tourist office: www.ot-beaumesdevenise.com

The wines of Chateauneuf du Pape (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur,Vaucluse)These wines produced in the heart of Provence consist of 13 Côtes du Rhône grape varieties. Full-bodied, dense and perfumed, these red wines had already achieved a degree of success at the time when the Pope would summer in the region. The town, between Avignon and Orange, is overlooked by the remains of a château. It remains a crossroads in the valley and preserves a pronounced Provençal spirit, with its narrow streets, pale stone, small fountains and little squares lined with plane trees.Grape varieties: Syrah, Grenat, Clairette... Tourist office: www.paysprovence.fr

The wines of Bandol (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) , Discover Paca, Var  )The Romans are said to have planted vines in the region over 2 500 years ago, making this one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the country. With their full-bodied, spicy taste, these red, white and rosé wines used to be exported as far as India and Brazil, due to the proximity of the port of Marseilles. Today, Bandol is a peaceful, charming town with a marina, whose narrow streets lead down to the promenade overlooking the Mediterranean, and where it is pleasant to enjoy the beach or the old town with its historic buildings.Grape varieties: Cinsault, Mourvèdre Tourist office: www.bandol.fr

The wines of Cassis (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) , Discover Paca, Bouches-du-Rhône)Wine has been produced in Cassis since Roman times. These mostly white wines are fruity, light and refreshing on the palate. Not far from Marseilles, this town between sea and mountains is one of the main sites of the famous Mediterranean fjord-like rocky inlets known as calanques. This seaside resort also has a pleasant little harbour, where yachts are moored overlooking the old town. The pink façades of smart villas, fountains, Roman remains, a château, religious heritage and little Provençal squares complete the unique atmosphere of this pretty little town.Grape varieties: Ugni Blanc, Clairette Tourist office: www.ot-cassis.com

The wines of Cheverny (Centre, Loir et Cher)Made an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or ‘controlled denomination of origin’) in 1993, the red, white and rosé wines of Cheverny have a characteristic fine bouquet and mellow, perfumed finish. Situated to the south of Blois, the vineyards extend over 24 communes and are dotted with many historic châteaux. One of the most famous is that of Cheverny itself, with its magnificent grounds and flowerbeds. The village preserves an atmosphere typical of the Sologne region, with its little houses, 12th-century church and handsome traditional washing-place.Grape varieties: Gamay, Pinot Noir, CabernetTourist office: www.mairie-cheverny.com

The wines of Chinon (Centre , Indre et Loire )Situated between Tours and Saumur, these vineyards extend over 2 300 hectares and are run by 200 winegrowers. The red wines are noteworthy for their flavours of forest fruits and violets, the whites for their lighter, more floral aromas. The town boasts an imposing château overlooking the old town and the River Vienne, some fine medieval churches, tufa cellars, and a variety of museums, including those devoted to the river, the history of the town, popular arts, wine, cooperage, and Joan of Arc.Grape varieties: Cabernet FrancTourist office: www.ville-chinon.com

The wines of Sancerre  (Centre, Cher )These wines, mostly whites, enjoy an international reputation. Fruity and perfumed, they are perfect with fish or cheese. Sixteen million bottles are produced each year, across some fifteen villages near Sancerre. Dominating the surrounding area from its rocky peak at an altitude of over 300 metres, this attractive town at the gateway to Burgundy has managed to preserve all of its historical charm thanks to its château tower with unique panoramic views, its narrow streets, little squares and wine museum.Grape varieties: Sauvignon Tourist office: www.ville-sancerre.com

The wines of Pouilly (Burgundy, Nièvre )Across the River Loire from Sancerre, Pouilly has produced wine since the 5th century, seeing significant growth in the Middle Ages thanks to the monks of the region. An AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or ‘controlled denomination of origin’) since 1937, Pouilly white wines are produced across a dozen communes by some one hundred winegrowers. The economy of this peaceful village is based on the wine trade and pottery. Tourism here is centred on tours of the vineyards, wine cellars and the village, the banks of the Loire and traditional festivals.Grape varieties: Chasselas, SauvignonTourist office: www.pouillysurloire.fr

The wines of Vouvray (Centre , Indre et Loire )Dry or sweet, sparkling or slightly sparkling, Vouvray white wines enjoy a fine reputation. These crus of the Touraine region are ideal for aperitifs or festive occasions. They are grown over eight communes on the banks of the Loire. The village boasts fine manor houses and a château, the memory of Honoré de Balzac who liked to stay here, and curious remains of troglodyte dwellings carved out of the rock.Grape varieties: Pineau Blanc de Loire Tourist office: www.cc-vouvrillon.fr/vouvray/

The wines of Morgon ( Rhône )This wine is one of ten Beaujolais Grands Crus. Powerful and rounded, with hints of cherry, it goes well with meat or poultry. Bordering the River Saône, the vineyards lie 50 km to the north of Lyon. Village life revolves around wine and the grape harvests, and can be explored by taking a stroll around the old part of the village to discover its heritage or over the vine-covered hillsides that stretch out as far as the eye can see.Grape varieties: Gamay Noir Tourist office: www.morgon.fr

The wines of Toul  (Lorraine , Meurthe et Moselle )Wine was first produced here by the Romans. Since then, its aromas have been refined, to offer fruity, full-bodied, tannic notes, and it has become one of the region’s most popular wines. Thirty winegrowers in eight communes cultivate the land over some one hundred hectares, producing one million bottles a year. The town, not far from Nancy, boasts the imposing cathedral of Saint Etienne in the flamboyant Gothic style, fortifications built by Vauban, and an impressive art and history museum housed in an old chapel.Grape varieties: Gamay, Pinot Noir, Auxerrois Tourist office: www.lepredenancy.fr

The vineyards of Bergerac (Aquitaine , Dordogne )Described as “rounded with a full bouquet”, these red, white and rosé wines have been perfected over time. The region of over 12 000 hectares, known as Périgord Pourpre, includes 93 communes on both banks of the Dordogne. At the heart of the region, the town of Bergerac, immortalised in the figure of Cyrano, preserves the traces of a rich past, with its charming little streets, buildings with Renaissance façades, and river trips on gabares, the boats that used to transport the wine along the Dordogne.Grape varieties: Merlot, CabernetTourist office: www.bergerac-tourisme.com

The wines of Monbazillac (Aquitaine , Dordogne )The dessert wines of Monbazillac have a reputation of excellence both in France and abroad. Often associated with foie gras or Roquefort, they bring pleasure to the greatest lovers of sweet wines, with their subtle, sweet notes. With annual production of around six million bottles for an area of 1 200 hectares, the village boasts a fine château that dominates the region, quiet little streets, a church, and a panorama of vines surrounding the peak on which the village stands.Grape varieties: Sémillon, Sauvignon, MuscadelleTourist office: www.pays-de-bergerac.com

The wines of Gaillac (Midi-Pyrénées , Tarn )The red, white and sparkling wines of Gaillac came to the fore in the space of a few years thanks to the efforts of the region’s winegrowers. Enjoyed as far afield as Japan, they have characteristic fruity flavours and are produced over 73 communes covering 2 500 hectares. Gaillac, crossed by the River Tarn, has the typical features of a town of southwest France, with its yellow stone, red brick, old bridge and imposing Benedictine monastery. It is also home to some fine museums, such as those of fine art, the abbey and natural history.Grape varieties: Duras, Braucol, Mauzac Tourist office: www.ville-gaillac.fr

The wines of Jurançon (Aquitaine , Pyrénées-Atlantiques )This wine was used to christen King Henry IV in 1553 and, since then, has become famous the world over. Sweet and golden, with aromas of exotic fruits and honey, it is a real treat for the taste buds, ideally served with foie gras or white meats. Its production covers 25 villages. Not far from Pau, life in Jurançon centres on wine and its production, and is punctuated by the grape harvest. It has a pretty town centre, with old houses showing architectural influences of the Béarn region, surrounded by a sea of vines.Grape varieties: Petit and Gros Manseng Tourist office: www.vins-jurancon.fr

The wines of Cahors (Midi-Pyrénées , Lot )These characterful red wines, often pungent when young, improve with ageing. This imposing, ancient winegrowing area straddles both banks of the River Lot and produces nearly 30 million bottles a year. The town, active since ancient times, lies on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, and remains a crossroads in the region. Set within a loop of the Lot, it has preserved its fine heritage, with an imposing cathedral, Renaissance houses, steep streets and the famous bridge of Pont Valentré, a medieval structure and jewel of the town.Grape varieties: Malbec Tourist office: www.tourisme-cahors.com

  • The vineyards of Cognac and Pineau des Charentese

Cognac (Poitou-Charentes, Charente )Cognac is a brandy made according to traditional, regulated methods involving the use of white grape varieties, a rigorous distillation process and several years’ ageing in oak casks. This AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or ‘controlled denomination of origin’) includes six crus, whose inimitable golden amber colour is characteristic of Cognac. The town owes its reputation to this world-famous spirit, produced in numerous distilleries dotted all over town. A museum on the bank of the River Charente recalls the centuries-old importance of this industry. Old merchants’ houses, Renaissance heritage (façades, fountains, towers and château) and the church of Saint Léger make for a pleasant historical tour of the town.Grape varieties: WhiteTourist office: www.tourism-cognac.com

  • The vineyards of Armagnac

Labastide d’Armagnac (Aquitaine , Landes )Armagnac is the most famous drink of the Gascons. Made from white wine in a still according to an ancestral tradition, then aged in oak casks, this brandy, the oldest produced in France, has a characteristic golden colour and floral, fruity aroma. In Labastide d’Armagnac, it has been produced for generations. This 13th-century walled town enchants with its fortified church, Place Royale with its ancient arcades, and a surprising church dedicated to...cyclists!Grape varieties: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard…Tourist office: www.labastide-darmagnac.net

  • The vineyards of the Jura

LThe wines of Château-Chalon ( Franche-Comté , Jura)Château-Chalon is a premium vin jaune, or 'yellow wine', with a unique golden colour. It is produced over a small area of just 50 hectares. With its characteristic notes of walnut, wheat and curry, it goes perfectly with fish, mushrooms or a slice of Comté cheese. The village, classed as one of the “Prettiest Villages in France”, stands on top of a hill and looks down over the whole vineyard. It enchants visitors with its narrow streets, little squares and viewpoints.Grape varieties: SavagninTourist office: www.chateau-chalon.info

The wines of Arbois (Franche-Comté , Jura ) This winegrowing area, which became an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or ‘controlled denomination of origin’) in 1936, extends over 800 hectares and produces a huge range of wines, including white, rosé, red, vin de paille (‘straw wine’), vin jaune (‘yellow wine’) and macvin (a sweet dessert wine fortified with marc brandy). These wines have a pronounced, fruity flavour, and are excellent with dishes with creamy sauces or poultry. The town was made famous by Louis Pasteur, who grew up here and whose family home can be visited. Other sights worth seeing in Arbois are the fine ramparts encircling the town, and its two museums, the Musée de la Vigne et du Vin de Franche-Comté (wine and winegrowing) and the Musée Sarret de Grozon (paintings).Grape varieties: Savagnin, Poulsard, Trousseau, Tourist office: www.arbois.com

Further information:

Most tourist offices (offices de tourisme) propose trails for discovering local historical and winegrowing heritage, with visits to properties (châteaux and wine estates) and winegrowing areas (walks, cycle rides, etc.).

Ravivin: The Réseau Associatif des Villes du Vin is an association of French winegrowing communes set up in 1997 to promote wine tourism, that spirit which links wine, tourism and a way of life. It develops the clear links between the history of a town’s wine and its heritage.