Of the dozens of "wine trails" that weave throughout the countryside of France, the Alsace road is considered to be the first. Leading from Bordeaux to Champagne to Burgundy, Beaujolais and Aquitaine, it was designated a wine trail more than 50 years ago.
The hillside vineyards are sheltered by the Vosges Mountains, but still benefit from plentiful sunshine. This 170km road provides access to 38 smaller wine trails through the vineyards. Along these routes you can taste local vintages, and visit cities with great views such as Riquewihr, Ribeauville, Colmar and the Haut-Koenigsbourg Orschwiller.
The area is popular for its red Bordeaux, but it also produces dry or sweet whites and rosés. With the Atlantic Ocean nearby, the 120,000 hectares of Bordeaux vineyards enjoy a temperate climate. The five main roads are:
- The Castle Road takes visitors to the Médoc, between the north of Bordeaux and the Pointe de Grave. This area produces Grands Crus and a lot of crus bourgeois, including Pauillac, St Estephe, St Julien, Margaux.
- The Heritage Route is east of Bordeaux on the right bank of the Dordogne. It is the home of Saint-Emilion, Côtes de Castillon and Cotes de Francs. Be sure to stop at the medieval village of Saint-Emilion, a World Heritage Site dating back to prehistoric times.
- The Road of Coteaux, which crosses the côte de Blaye and Bourg.
- The Route of the Graves is near the Landes in the southwest of Bordeaux. Here you will find reds and famous whites such as Cérons, Barsac and Sauternes.
- The Road of the Bastides, in between the Dordogne and Garonne, is home to well-known wines including Cadillac and Loupiac.
Another wine road worth taking is the Royal Wine, or as we call it, the Champagne. Most of the Champagne vineyards are around Reims and Epernay, towns where guests can visit vast cellars. The vineyards are less visible when you take a southerly direction. They are found after Troyes, from Bar-sur-Seine and Bar-sur-Aube.