The history of wine spans thousands of years. Wine drinking is one of the world’s most ancient pleasures and we can safely assume developed only for the pleasure it gave, a very different pleasure today to what it gave 8,000 years ago when it was invented. The origins of wine growing and producing can be traced back to ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Egypt, but what we drink now has very little in common with what Plato drunk.
In the Middle Ages wine was drunk all day, as the only safe drink to enjoy and people were constantly drunk for morning to night. Many strange ingredients were added to the wine, lead, ashes, gypsum and pine sap to disguise the sour, bitter taste of the fermented grapes. It was only in the middle of the 19th century that the first Golden Age of wines developed when Boudreaux wines and Champagne transform wine into an object of desire.
The second pivotal period in wine history is right now, “the democratic period”, when high quality wines are produced all over the world and offered at reasonable prices to be enjoyed by all. What we drink now has developed to the high standard it enjoys in the last 20 years and what we have come to except from our wines is perfection and the ultimate pleasure. More than one note we now look for a symphony.
The story of wine in France, where the industry grew to influence the world, can be traced in part through a vessel called an amphora and likely produced around 525 BC to 475BC. Etruscan merchant seamen used the amphora to hold wine and transport it to Lattara, a coastal site south of Montpelier, which fuelled an ever-growing market and interest in wine there, which led to transplantation of the Eurasian grapevine and the beginning of an industry in France. The rest is history.
Today French wine is produced in several regions throughout the country and is the most exported wine in the world. Second only to Spain in terms of total vineyard area in the world, France often surpasses Spain as the world’s largest wine producer.
Two concepts central to French wines are the notion of “terroir” (style of the wines and vineyard locations) and the Appellation d’ Origine Controlee (AOC) system (grape varieties and winemaking practices). France is the source of many grape varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blank) which are now grown throughout the world. It is also the source of winemaking practices and styles of wine that have been adopted in other wine producing countries.
In 2017, the wine estate La Croix Melier was passed down to Philippe and Dominique Ivancic from Pascal Berthelot, who was from a long-established family of wine growers in the Loire Valley, on the hillsides of Husseau (hamlet on the east side of Montlouis-sur-Loire), south of the Loire. Philippe and Dominique cultivated their wines with passion and will welcome you at the Domaine de la Croix Melier to discover and share the richness of their land and wines.
This family estate of 25 hectares is located 15 kilometers from Nantes, in the village of Saint Leger les Vignes. This estate surrounds the lake of Granlieu, where it gets the appelation for the Muscadet.
For many years, Jean-Pierre Guedon has been focusing on organic farming and since 2012 every white wine produced by Domaine Les Hautes Noëlles is certified as “organic”.
Mathieu Cosme is the fifth generation of a wine maker family who’s been producing some outstanding Chenin blanc Vouvray!
Domaine a Deux is a tiny estate recently created by two very talented winemakers of the Loire Valley.
Among the great white-producing regions in the Loire, Touraine is enormous, and its producers varied. The dynamic François Xavier Barc is co-owner of both the Domaine à Deux and the negoçiant business, Complices de Loire. Domaine vineyards are in the Loir-et-Cher area and focus on pure, elegant, everyday wines.
Les Athletes du Vin is a négociant project focused on producing great value typical wines from the Loire Valley. The idea was conceived by a group of French winemakers called Vini Be Good who work together to distribute their wines in France. The wines are vinified by various members of the Vini Be Good network using their own grapes or grapes purchased from friends and neighbours in the Loire. The labels for Les Athletes du Vin are drawings by French artist, illustrator, and cartoonist Michel Tolmer who has been the unofficial lead artist of the French natural wine movement since the 1990s.
Gilbert Bonnet owns 14 hectares of vineyards in Marmande South West of France. One of his last acquisitions is a plot located in the South of Bordeaux made of Merlot and Cabernets. The result of it is a very straight forward, medium bodied red wine.
For four generations, the vines of Chateau Fredignac have been cultivated in this very special climate influenced by the Gironde estuary. The vines flourished perfectly on the clay and limestone soil of the Gironde. The estate was converted to organic farming in 2010 by Vincent and Ludivine, who operate the vine production and produce magnificent grapes and wines (cuvees) which satisfy all senses.
Located in the heart of the appellation Bergerac, 12km south of the capital of Bergerac, this property of 18 hectares is in the appellation Monbazillac.
The family that runs the Domaine is based in the hamlet of Préhy, just 7 km south west of Chablis. The winery is situated in the village of La Chapelle Vaupelteigne. Between the Auxerrois and Chablisien vineyards, the estate of Céline and Frédéric Gueguen is made up of 23 hectares of vines in the villages of Chablis, Chichée, la Chapelle Vaupelteigne, Saint-Bris and Irancy. Céline comes from a family of wine-growers, originally from Saint Bris le Vineux. After working for her father Jean-Marc Brocard on his estate for 13 years, Céline & Frederic decided in 2013 to go it alone and create their own wines. They respect the tradition and the fragility of the “terroir”. All the cultural techniques that take care of the environment of the vineyard allow them to preserve the aromatic complexity of this wines from all different plots.
This estate is nestled 380 m above sea level, facing the Pyrenees. Domaine Coustarret has been producing wine for at least seven generations. Sebastien, driven by the knowledge of his ancestors and the passion of his profession, strives to highlight the particularity of the Jurancon grape varieties. This wine, a combination of sweetness, freshness and alcohol, is medium sweet, of high acidity, with medium body and aromas of red apple, stewed pear, honey and dried apricot. Elegant and balanced, it has a long finish on the palate.
This is a family run organic Domaine. The Domaine de Lagoy is located in Saint Rémy de Provence. Steeped in history, this estate was acquired in 1662 by the Meyran family and has remained in the same family since then. Its central point is the Château de Lagoy, a listed historic monument, whose construction dates back to 1714.
The Lagoy vineyard was converted to organic farming in 2001. On the plateau of Petite Crau where it is located, the soil is formed from alluvial deposits from the Durance. The presence of many pebbles that store heat, and the isolation of the vineyard allow quality production.
The history of Portuguese wine has been influenced by Portugal‘s relative isolationism in the world’s wine market, with the one notable exception of its relationship with the British. Wine has been made in Portugal since at least 2000 BC. By the 10th century BC, the Phoenicians had arrived and introduced new grape varieties and winemaking techniques to the area. In later centuries, the Ancient Greeks, Celts and Romans would do much to spread viticulture and winemaking. Portuguese wines were first shipped to England in the 12th century from the Entre Douro e Minho region (which today includes modern Portuguese wine regions such as the douro and vinho verde) and the fortified wine known as port was increasing in popularity in Britain. For centuries afterwards, Portuguese wines came to be associated with Port. In the mid-to-late 20th century, sweet, slightly sparkling rosé brands from Portugal (Mateus and Lancers being the most notable) became immensely popular around the globe-with the British wine market again leading the way. In the mid-1980s, Portugal’s introduction to the European Union brought a flood of financing and grants to the stagnant Portuguese wine industry. These new investments paved the way for upgrades in winemaking technology and facilities. Renewed interest in the abundance of unique Portuguese wine grape varieties shifted focus to more premium wine production with a portfolio of unique dry red and white wines being marketed on a global scale.
The first one among the Portuguese Demarcated regions to explore the sparkling wines, Bairrada is also recognized for its modernity and dynamism, bringing together wines of classic style and wines of a more international style, incorporating foreign grape varieties.
This region is very similar to the famous French region of Bordeaux, with high equality of latitude, climate and soils, and the smallest viticultural region in Portugal. This is a region of great potential, gathering exceptional conditions for the production of excellent wines.