Top Ways Terroir & Climate Affect Chablis, Savagnin & Other French White Wines!

Nov 27, 2023

If you’ve wondered what a terroir is and why it matters for your favorite Chardonnay, Wine Download’s team of experts walks you through French white wines and the effects of terroir on production and flavor.

It's a warm summer's evening and you're enjoying a view of the sunset from a stone terrace in Southern France. . .

In this moment of sheer delight, would you prefer to sip a refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chablis?

The truth is - they're all delicious, and have their own unique flavor profiles that keep you coming back for more.

But. . . what makes one wine taste so different from another, you may wonder? The answer: terroir!

To help you understand what terroir is and why it matters, the team at Wine Download covers many French regions known for white wine production, including the Loire Valley, Burgundy, Provençe, Alsace, Champagne, the Rhône Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon, Bordeaux, and Corsica.

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The guide focuses on the subtle ways geography and climate affect flavor profiles for different French grape varieties and gives you insights into lesser-known French white wines, such as Marsanne, from the Northern Rhône Valley, and Biancu Gentile, native to the island of Corsica.

Recent research published by the National Library of Medicine shows that terroir, or the natural environment in which a wine is produced, has a measurable effect on flavor profiles, affecting elements such as body intensity, tannin levels, and fruitiness. The Wine Download guide to French white wines and their respective terroirs helps you understand how topography, soil composition, and climate can determine how your favorite wine tastes. “France is famous for its wines, but you may not realize how the country’s diverse terroirs can influence production and characteristics,” says a spokesperson. “From the elegant Chardonnays of Burgundy to the crisp Sauvignon Blancs of the Loire Valley, every sip will transport you to a different location, each with its own unique flavors.”

Focusing on each region in turn, the guide explores how different soil compositions, like limestone and clay, sandstone and granite, or flint and limestone, add unique components to a wine’s profile, helping increase acidity or add body depth.

The Wine Download team also lists many of the sub-regions in which you can discover even greater varieties of white wine, such as the Côte de Beaune, in Burgundy, which offers elegant, complex Chardonnays, or Sancerre, within the Loire Valley.

If you're a fan of champagne - and who isn't? - you'll find an in-depth explanation of the interrelationship between terroir and production of the world’s most famous sparkling white wine, as well as a breakdown of each step of the process, from harvesting to fermentation to storage.

In addition, the guide describes the role of the Mediterranean climate in affecting white wines, noting the ongoing effects of climate change on French wine production and trends regarding viticultural practices in the region.

Find out more fun facts and figures about your favorite alcoholic beverage with the folks at Wine Download!

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