France at a glance… when you want to seek, savour and pluck the perfect palate pleasers, France leads the field.
With more than 10 major wine regions, if you were to spin the wine wheel, you know you’re in for a treat wherever the cork lands.
With its plethora of grape varieties, vast stretches of verdant vineyards and birthplace of the styles we love best, France has it all. We’ve pulled together some top drops from renowned regions to appreciate the wine capital of the world – without having to actually step on French soil…
1. Baron de Guers Picpoul de Pinet 2021, France, £9, Sainsbury’s
Enjoying a moment in the sun, picpoul’s one of the most recognized varieties from the Languedoc-Roussillon, where its Mediterranean coast lends a wonderful saline quality to this crisp, dry white. Known for its tall, slim bottle (which loves an ice bucket) Picpoul translates to ‘lip stinger’ – and this one offers all that lovely lemony, zesty freshness, nuances of white peach, lime, a salty, minerally note and good acidity. One for half-a-dozen oysters.
2. Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie Les Gautronniers Bonnet-Huteau, 2020, France, £13.60, Tanners
Another seafood-loving white, Muscadet’s enjoying a renaissance and back on the wine lover’s radar. Shaped by the cool sea breezes of the Atlantic Ocean at the western end of the picturesque Loire Valley, this one offers weight and freshness. With characteristic stone fruits and lemony concentration, there’s good depth with white blossomy notes and a fresh, long minerally finish. Quite delightful.
3. Louis Latour Mâcon-Lugny Les Genievres 2020, Burgundy, France, £17.99, Hennings Wine
An unoaked Burgundy blonde from the southern Mâconnais – and one of the top vineyards – the overall impression is a rich, creamy, elegant chardonnay, with a wonderful purity. The ripe, white peach and pear flavours really shine with lemon meringue notes, backed by fresh acidity. Enticing blossomy aromas reminiscent of muscat lends interest, with similar accents on the plush finish.
4. Henry Fessy Fleurie AOC Beaujolais 2018, France, £15.49, Waitrose
A really beautiful Beaujolais; harmonious easy-drinking charms are enriched by delightful, heady florals when you head to the famous Fleurie region. With juicy, fleshy cherry and blackcurrant flavours, hints of raspberries, mineral undertones and soft spice lingering on the silky finish, it’s polished and right on point.
5. Tesco Finest Margaux 2016, Bordeaux, France, £22, Tesco
Cited as one of the most exciting vintages of recent years, clarets from one of Bordeaux’s most iconic regions normally come at an eye-watering price. That being said, this own-label IWC (International Wine Challenge) Silver medal winner showcases the classic Margaux silky refinement with superb aromatics, vivid violet notes and a sleek core of cassis, blackberry, plum, spices and oak, that meld together beautifully – a very inviting style, well defined through the lingering finish.
6. Perrin & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2019, Rhone Valley, France, £24, Sainsbury’s
Famous for its standout reds and one of the most influential producers in the Rhône Valley, the Perrin family’s Château de Beaucastel may be out of reach (think circa £70 a bottle – if you can lay your hands on it) but you can still buy into this ripe and expressive vintage with their ‘other’ C-du-P. Utterly gorgeous from word go, it’s a rhapsody of plush, dense fruit; think raspberry, plum, violet accents, cassis, cherry, touch of liquorice, sweet spicy notes and a lustrous, long finish. Divine.
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