How ‘crafty’ French growers make wine even better

France.  The land of great wines, cheese and strikes, renowned for its ‘art de vivre’ – elegance, passion and terroir.

People often romanticise the life of a French winemaker: probably strolling through exacting rows of vines, continuously drinking great wine (that’s likely true) and dining alfresco among beret-wearing locals. What a lovely picture!

The reality isn’t quite so charmed. Making wine is hard work, those who persevere with it are seriously inspiring when you really think about it.

We are lucky enough to work with some amazing and very special French producers. They create art through their wine, as great artists like Monet, Renoir or Cézanne – I love impressionism, my go-to University Challenge subject – do so with their paintings. Their care and love for the terroir shows in the quality of their bottlings.

They come from every corner of the hexagone: from famous regions such as the Loire Valley with the Mellot Family, producing outstanding Pinot Noir in Sancerre, to Alsace with Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss, who happens to also have vineyards in Costières de Nîmes in the Rhone. We’ve got grower Champagne from the Pouillon or Lacourte-Godbillon families, to the producers of lesser known regions such as Jean Perrier of Savoie or Plaimont of the Gers.

They might grow different grapes and produce different styles of wine, but they all share some common grounds: TLC for the land, often following organic and biodynamic principles, carrying on the hard work of their previous generations and a love of what they do.

If you’re interested in what we like to call Mindful winemaking’, check out our one-day course which highlights the ‘Mindful’ principles these winemakers abide by and helps you to educate your customers in why it’s so important to look after the environment in which the vines are growing. As we all know, you can’t make good wine from bad grapes, just like you can’t make good Victoria sponge from margarine – it must be butter. Always butter!

Personally, I have a soft spot for small ‘crafty’ growers and lesser known regions. Because they often sell outside of the big names and the market-dominating varieties like Cab Sav or Pinot or Sauvignon. That was always my forte and passion when I was a sommelier, asking the customer what they usually drink and finding a quirky alternative. That said, I wouldn’t say no to a classic Grand Cru!

France is so diverse and offers so many fabulous wines, it would be a shame to not continue to explore all of her many jewels.

Want to know more about our French Artists? Read the French Artists guide here to see the whole picture.

By Marjorie Cropp

Marjorie is our new Bordeaux born and raised wine educator. She spent most of her wine career working as a somm in the London fine dining scene making and most recently as a wine adviser and educator at The Wine Society.