Each month at Zupan’s Markets, we feature 12 wines on special from a certain category, country or grape variety. For this month’s wine specials we are featuring approachable, affordable, mouthwatering French wines. Each of our 12 selections, which could easily be found in bistros all over France, are wonderfully food friendly, represent their areas of origin, and are great values.
Steeped in tradition and romance, French wine can provide a profound wine experience. It can also cause a befuddling shopping experience. Unlike New World wines, where grape variety is prominent, the most important part of the French wine label is the appellation designation, indicating the wine’s quality level and where the grapes were grown. For example, in the U.S. we name a wine “Pinot Noir,” but in France the same wine would be named “Bourgogne” for the place where the Pinot Noir is grown.
This appellation distinction and regulation of wine making began in 1936 when the Appellations d’Origine Controllée (AOC) system was extended to wine making throughout the country. Translated, AOC means “controlled designation of origin” and was first started in the 15th century to regulate the making of Roquefort cheese. The French developed the AOC system to provide protection for specialized products only made in distinct regions, supporting the idea of “terroir” or that certain regions produce products with distinct and consistent character. This system allows for strict production regulations, including wine making techniques, authorized varieties and vine cultivation.
Over the years France’s wine classification system has been reformed and currently includes three categories. Listed from most basic to highest quality they are Vin de France, IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) & AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). This year even further changes are happening to replace AOC with AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée), however the new distinction only means minor changes to terminology with no changes to the appellations themselves.
With all that said, what is most important to remember in the discovery of French wine, is that in each bottle is the delicious result of centuries of trial and error, passion and stewardship. It is with that knowledge that we invite you to take the plunge into the wonderful world of French wine.
Check out the full list of wines on special this month.