We’ve spent the past three episodes cataloging Bordeaux’s rise to becoming the premier fine-wine region of France, but today we’re going to take a brief detour to the city of La Rochelle.

Similarly to Bordeaux, La Rochelle is a port town and a large hub for trade. However, due to historical circumstances, it never catapulted in popularity in quite the same way. The city itself was established in 1130 when France was the epicenter of European economic expansion, and viticulture subsequently blew up in the nearby town of Poitiers.

Surprisingly, the region was known for producing some of the best wine in France at the time, with many of the other French regions producing wine that was thought to be too acidic. However, during the French Wars of Religion in the 1500s, the Poitiers area was completely decimated. Over time, the region successfully rebounded, with over 100,000 acres of vineyards in La Rochelle by the late 1800s. Then, phylloxera hit, setting the region back once again.

Fast-forward to 2010 (after decades of replanting and rebuilding), and La Rochelle was finally awarded an AOC. Today, there are just shy of 2,000 acres under vine — a far cry from 19th- century numbers — but La Rochelle wines are making their way onto the American market, and we mean it when we say that they’re worth seeking out.

On this episode of “Wine 101,” we’re kicking off the new year with a quick overview of the town and region that lost to Bordeaux, but still endures. It’s La Rochelle, and we’re covering its history as well as the amazing wines coming out of the region today. Tune in for more.

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“Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours truly, Keith Beavers, at the VinePair headquarters in New York City. I want to give a big old shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Big shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the art director of VinePair, for creating the most awesome logo for this podcast. Also, Darby Cicci for the theme song. And I want to thank the entire VinePair staff for helping me learn something new every day. See you next week.

*Image retrieved from GoodPics via stock.adobe.com