Ode to the French

I would like to extend an enthusiastic thank you to the monks, farmers, viticulturists, and oenologists who have, through time and trial, created the wonderful world of wine. There are many great classic wine regions throughout Europe, and even more now in the new world and across the planet. No area can claim a higher degree of responsibility for the greatness of modern fine wine than those of the wine regions of France. If you have studied and researched wine, then you have undoubtedly broached the topics of French wine production and grapes. Winemaking predates France, and many of the basic practices of it were of course improved upon by many other cultures and peoples. The Phoenicians, the ancient Greeks, and the Romans, all added to the knowledge base of viniculture and were responsible for first introducing the vinifera vines to Gaul. Many now-common wine-making practices were established by various orders of monks throughout Europe. The culmination of all of these factors and the people who touched the industry and left their mark upon it, clearly have a claim to a portion of the success. The modern oenological practices, however, which result in the fine wines available worldwide, can be largely attributed to the great wine regions of France. No other country has exported so many grape varieties or vinicultural habits, which is why one can not begin to study wine without also studying the geography and history of France. Even old world regions with a long history of wine production, like Tuscany, have surrendered many long-established practices to the proven ones of the French. Most notably, of course, the Super Tuscans. Another example would be the transition in Barolo, from the old style of large-barrel aging to the French barrique. One need only look at the grape varieties which dominate the world market to see the impact that French wines have had on the world. Almost all of the worldwide well-known cultivars are French. With the announcement of new rules of grape allowance being introduced into Bordeaux this year, it is evident that times are a-changing. To note that two of the newly accepted grapes are from Portugal(or Northwest Spain) is a bit of a shock. Having been the exporter of varieties for so long, it seems strange to now import a few. I suppose you could argue that the phylloxera epidemic did cause an influx of new vines for rootstock and a re-introduction of varieties from America, but not in the same way as this new importation of vines that have never previously grown there. I certainly look forward to a future when we can once again travel freely from North America to Europe, so I may visit more of the classic regions of historical wine production in France, as well as many other great old world wine regions. Until then I will just drink their wine, and the ones inspired by it.