Other French Wine Regions

A look at the wine regions of France

In addition to the better-known wine-producing parts of France, interesting wines, occasionally seen in the U.S., are made in several other regions. The Jura, between Burgundy and the Swiss border, is best known for its unique vin jaune, or yellow wine, made with the indigenous savignin grape and matured under a layer of yeast, like sherry (though unlike sherry, it isn't fortified with stronger spirits); the most famous example comes from the appellation of Château-Chalon. The Jura also produces a dessert wine called vin de paille, or wine from straw, so named because the grapes are partially dried on straw mats before fermentation. Red and white table wines are also made, some from chardonnay or pinot noir, but others from rarer varieties like pouisard, trousseau, and the aforementioned savignin. Another mountainous region, the Savoie or Savoy, yields lean, crisp, aromatic whites made from such local cultivars as jacquère, gringet, and roussette (also called altesse), and from roussanne, a white wine grape from the Rhône. Red wines are based on mondeuse, and occasionally pinot noir. Chignin, Chignin-Bergeron, and Crépy are among the labels sometimes seen. Inland and to the south of Bordeaux, in southwestern France, Bergerac and its neighbors produce wines not dissimilar to lesser Bordeaux; Cahors bottles what was once called "black wine" (for its inky color) made from malbec (or côt, the local name), sometimes with tannat and/or merlot added; tannat is the main grape for Madiran, often with cabernet franc and occasionally with cabernet sauvignon added, and the same area produces dry, sweet, and sparkling wines, largely from regional varieties called courbu, petit manseng, and gros manseng, under the appellation Pacherenc duVic-Bilh; those last three grapes also go into the rich, fragrant dry and sweet wines of Jurançon; and the French Basque country produces excellent red wine called Irouléguy, from tannat, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon, as well as pleasant rosé from the same grapes and a small quantity of white from the cultivars used in Jurançon. Corsica, off the coast of Italy, is the source of bright, full-flavored wines with a Mediterranean accent, not unlike some from Provence. The reds are mostly a local grape called nielluccio, sometimes with another Corsican cultivar, sciacarello, often blended with grenache and sometimes with carignan and/or other Rhône varieties. Some vermentino, a white grape, is permitted in red blends, and is used for many of the island's whites, sometimes with ugni blanc added. Corsican dessert wines have been highly regarded for centuries, especially those made from a muscat variety called muscat à petit grains. The island's most famous appellation is Patrimonio.