Spend A Weekend In France's Wine Country

25 October 2014

Wine enthusiasts the world over dream of visiting France’s wine country at least once in their lives. But if a weekend in one of the famous wine regions is on your (spit) bucket list, which do you choose? Here is an overview of three of the best so you can make your choice – or, if you have more time, do them in succession.

 Pop the cork on Champagne

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Champagne

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About 160 kilometres east of Paris, the Champagne region is the perfect starter journey if your trip is centred in the capital city. Stay in Reims or Épernay if you want a town feel for your accommodation. Alternatively, choose from one of many chateaux or bed and breakfasts located on the vineyards.

Tastings are a must, of course. You can sample vintages from Moët & Chandon and G.H. Mumm to see which varietal of bubbly suits your fancy. Learn about the history of this prestige wine, particularly where monk Dom Pérignon helped create champagne in the village of Hautvillers.

To clear your head from all the tastings, grab some cheese and baguettes and set down for a picnic overlooking the hills and vineyards, or visit the Reims Cathedral.

 Explore the rustic region of Bordeaux

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Bordeaux

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This region offers the best of rolling vineyards and coastal views. If variety is what you’re after for your weekend in wine country, Bordeaux would be hard to beat. It offers several varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sémillon and Merlot.

Some of France’s most prestigious wine estates are found in the Médoc region, such as Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and Château Pontet-Canet. For a more medieval flair, head to the village of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the heart of the region’s vineyards. Impressive architecture and monuments will form the perfect backdrop to your tasting journey of mainly reds.

If dessert wines are more your cup of tea, stop by Sauternes in the Graves section of Bordeaux. Made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes that have been afflicted by noble rot, Sauternes is a sweet wine with a distinctive flavour. Don’t let your tasting experience be purely liquid, though.

There are plenty of local delicacies to savour including foie gras, confit, caviar and pâtés aplenty. For dessert you must try a canelé, a small pastry with a soft custard centre and caramelised crust – not to mention the tried-and-tested macaron.

 Cheeses as far as the eye can see in France's wine regions

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Burgundy

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Known as the motherland of classic French cuisine, Burgundy is the ultimate in gastronomic pleasure. Varietals found here include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Gamay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The most prestigious Burgundies are found in Côte-d’Or, but plan your trip well as the cellars are often open by appointment only. Other wines to be tasted include Chassagne Montrachet, Meursault, Chambolle Musigny and Nuits-Saint-Georges.

As you sample your wines, be sure to take in the regional cuisine. Pair coq au vin with Chardonnay, and boeuf bourguignon or gougère pastry with Pinot Noir. Also try escargot with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, and Époisses de Bourgogne cheese with a red Burgundy for the full culinary experience.

Lucy Sutton

Having experienced her first international flight at the age of six months, Lucy Sutton is a globetrotter for life. Lucy has lived half her life in Australia and half in the United States, taking advantage of travel opportunities near each country.