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French Style Wines In Australia

French Style Wines In Australia

When the topic comes to great wine, the compass always points towards France. French wine and French winemaking have been leading the popularity charts for years now, thanks to France’s rich history in wine making and the perfect climatic conditions that lend to the production of some of the finest grape varieties in the world. However, French wine in Australia is as much a hot property as wine varieties from France— with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc produced in Australia being popular among wine connoisseurs.

The discourse on French wine is one that’s best enjoyed with a glass of Chardonnay in hand. So go ahead and pop open a bottle of your favourite wine from Wine Selectors as we take a walk through the elusive world of French wines.

When faced with the question— what is the most famous wine in France? or what is France's most popular wine? It is often popular varities like French Chardonnay, Syrah and Champagne that gets highlighted. But, the French wine world is so diverse— with every region bringing the distinctive flavours of its terroir, it is best to get to know and savour the different types of French wines before finding your favorites. And, how many wine varieties are there in France? there are over 200 French wine varieties! So, use this handy guide to take your palette on a tasting adventure through the wine regions of France.

French Vineyard


What are the different types of French wines?

From Chardonnay to Pinot Noir to Sauvignon Blanc, here is a look at all the popular French wine varieties;


Syrah (Shiraz)

Hands-down the hero of Australian red wines, Shiraz is known as Syrah in France, where its story started as cool-climate, old-world styles of the Rhône Valley. By contrast, Aussie Shiraz has made its mark as a bolder, full-bodied style, rich with fruit character and big on tannins.



Widely adored, Chardonnay is a grape variety from the Burgundy region of France that’s become an Australian classic. In Northern Burgundy, it’s made as a crisp and dry white wine known as Chablis which is similar in character to our cool-climate Chardonnays. The great white flourishes here in a great variety of interpretations, from youthful, fruit-driven to big buttery wines.


Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc

Derived from the French words ‘Sauvage’, meaning ‘wild’, and ‘blanc’, meaning ‘white’, Sauvignon Blanc is a delightfully fresh and fruity variety from Bordeaux in France. Its aromatic, easy-drinking quality has made it a popular white with Aussie wine lovers. Regional character varies widely across wines produced in warmer regions, coastal climates and high-altitude vineyards.


Pinot Noir

A coveted French variety that commands a certain mystique, Pinot Noir originates from Burgundy. But what is Pinot Noir called in France? Since Pinot Noir is primarily red wine grown in Burgundy, it is often called Red Burgundy in France. So, is Burgundy just Pinot Noir? Yes! Notoriously tricky to cultivate, Pinot Noir has nonetheless been mastered by Australian winemakers crafting wines of finesse that hold their own with the world’s best. These are wines loved for their heady perfume, ethereal quality and bright berry characters.


Chenin Blanc

The vibrant French variety behind many of the longest-lived white wines of the Loire Valley, from Vouvray to Montlouis, Chenin Blanc has quite a history in Australia, with the first plantings taking root in the Swan Valley in 1829. Made in a wide spectrum of styles, its full fruit flavours and crisp acidity are highly appealing.


Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Star of the southwest of France, Cabernet Sauvignon territory is traditionally the Left Bank of the Gironde River in Bordeaux. You’ll find it in every wine region of Australia where it’s our second most planted grape, and notably across the Coonawarra and Margaret River. Adored for the deeply layered flavours it brings to voluptuous wines, this very classy French variety has become synonymous with great Australian wines.


Cabernet Franc

Frequently finding its way into blends for its oh-so-plush quality, fragrant Cabernet Franc is a jewel of Southern France. Lower in tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s one of the rarer French varieties to come by in Australia and has found recognition as a stand-alone style in the Adelaide Hills. Cabernet Franc thrives in cool to moderate climates where you’ll discover some lovely and bright, lighter-bodied styles. 



With its home in France’s Rhône Valley, Marsanne is one of the world’s rarest grape varieties. It is only grown in three other countries – Switzerland, the USA and Australia. Tahbilk in the central Victorian region of Nagambie is the unchallenged king of Marsanne in Australia. With a body similar to Chardonnay, Marsanne is a white wine full of character and complexity.



Grenache Wine

Home ground for Grenache is split between Spain and France where it’s predominant in wines of the Côtes du Rhône region. Some of the world’s oldest producing vines are right here in Australia where this luscious variety is best known as a GSM blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro that bursts with berry flavours. South Australian winemakers across the Barossa, McLaren vale and Swan Valley champion it as a vibrant, stand-alone variety.



Gamay is the red grape behind the famed wines of Beaujolais, which sits south of Burgundy and the north of the Rhone Valley. In France, it is also grown in the Loire Valley and is often used to make Rosé. Gamay is very similar to Pinot and flourishes in colder regions such as the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and the Great Western.



Merlot Wine

The first reference to Merlot in France dates back to 1784, coming from a note written by an official who used the term "merlau" to describe the best wines from the famed Bordeaux region. In Australia, Merlot is produced in warm and cool climates, with the essential distinction between warm and cool climate Merlot manifesting in their differing textures, weight and flavour profiles.



Viognier’s spiritual home is in the northern Rhône appellations of Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie. Viognier thrives in cool to moderate climates such as Barossa ValleyEden Valley and Adelaide Hills in Australia and ranges from elegant to fragrant to luscious, full-bodied styles.


Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris Wine

What is the French version of Pinot Grigio?  It’s Pinot Gris. The word Pinot is derived from the French term ‘pin’, which means ‘pine’. This name reflects the tight, pine cone-shaped clusters of grapes that grow on Pinot Noir vines, and the typical greyish-blue colour of the fruit gives it the name Gris, which literally means grey in French or Grigio in Italian. In Australia, we affectionally call it Pinot G— a deeply-flavoured variety that thrives in cool to moderate climates such as King Valley, Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley.



Here at home, Vermentino was one of the first ‘new wave’ grape varieties to gain traction with grape growers and winemakers. With styles ranging from light and fresh to rich and textural, Vermentino thrives in cool to warm climates and is grown in King Valley and McLaren Vale in Australia.



Semillon Wine

Semillon originates from southwestern France and is famous for being a part of the highly prized and lusciously sweet white wine blends of Sauternes. Renowned for its incredible aging ability, Semillon has a light and dry flavour profile and grows well in warmer regions like Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley in Australia.


Main Wine Regions in France

Loire Valley

Loire Valley France

Stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Parisian Basin, Loire Valley has dozens of microclimates, producing wines that are elegant and hold plenty of acidity. It is also home to some of the finest Chenin Blac, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc varieties.  On the coast of the region, refreshing wines produced from the Muscadet grape are more common.



Burgundy is a historical region located in central-east France. It's well-known for its Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Beaujolais, Chablis, and Burgundy wines. A system of canals winds through the region, which is also home to numerous impressive châteaux, some of which are now opulent hotels. Luxurious Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines are the hallmarks of Burgundy, while more rustic varieties are produced from Aligote and Gamay.



Champagne Region

Champagne is arguably one of the most famous wine growing regions in France, thanks to the popularity of its Sparkling Wine, named after the region. Champagne lies to the east of Paris and is known for its sparkling Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs.



Located in southwest France, this region is home to the popular red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc wines. The region has a temperate, Mediterranean climate, and also produces famous White wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle.


What is the difference between French and Australian wines?

Australian Wine Region

While French wines continue to have an old-world charm, Australian wines impress with their new-world ingenuity, having more similarities than differences. Though the grape varieties are almost similar, the broader climate spectrum in Australia, in contrast to the typically cold climate of France, allows the wines to be more expressive in flavor and complexity.


Published on
11 Jul 2024


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