Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)
51. Ponsot Clos de la Roches VV – From a venerable old winery that has embraced the 21st century, this is a Grand Cru Pinot Noir from Burgundy. From very old vines, this is concentrated and complex. It needs years in a good cellar to justify its price tag. Consider yourself very lucky if you can cross this off your list.
52. Clape Cornas - Talk about old school. This is a Syrah from the Cornas region of the Rhone valley. This is an earthy wine with lots of fruit and a bit of barnyard qualities. Its complex and shows how good the old school wines can be.
53. Domaine Dauvissat Chablis les Preuses – From the other of the top two producers of Chablis. This is a racy, mineral driven Chardonnay that has very little in common with its California counter-parts. Great with food.
54. Didier Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly Silex - A Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. Sadly, Didier Dagueneau passed away recently, but his son has taken over and hopefully there will be no drop off in quality. These are amazing wines with depth and ageability. In fact, be careful not to drink these too young , as you risk missing some of the complexities and nuances they can offer.
55. Zind Humbrecht Riesling Clos Windsbuhl – An Alsatian Riesling. Depending on vintage, this can be slightly sweet or dry. It’s full of minerals and fruit with great texture. Great with food and … affordable.
56. Domaine Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile – Another Alsatian Riesling. Slightly more expensive but still fairly priced. This needs some ageing to show its best. Although it can be drunk young, five to ten years in a good cellar is rewarded with complexities. This is almost always on the dry side.
57. Chateau Palmer – Another second growth Bordeaux. This is from the Margaux commune. At times it can compete with Chateau Margaux in quality. Off vintages can be both affordable and special. A majority of Cabernet Sauvignon is in this blend.
58. Domaine Tempier Bandol la Tourtine – From Bandol in the region of Provence. Although the region is better known for its Rosés, this is a powerful red made from the Mourvèdre grape. It is very tannic in its youth but becomes a delicious food wine with some bottle age. You can’t know France without tasting some Bandol.
59. Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Granite de Clisson – One of the more serious Muscadets. This really needs some cellar time to evolve and calm down. Great with food, especially shell fish. Muscadet gets no better.
60. Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape – Another of the old world styled wines. This is earthy, dank, dark and glorious. Not for those who like “clean” wine. It has got so much complexity and funk. Really a special side of Chateauneuf.
61. Dominique Laurent Grands Echezaux VV – one of the more affordable of the Grand Cru wines from Burgundy. These wines are often dismissed as being too modern, too oaky, and for other reasons. Don’t believe it. Buy it and stick it in the cellar for a decade. It is amazing and on a par or at least close to the other Burgundies on this list.
62. Chateau de Pibarnon Bandol Rouge – Another red Mourvèdre wine from Provence. These are a bit more accessible in their youth but can also last for a long time. Great with food.
63. Verget Batard Montrachet – Another producer who sometimes gets taken too lightly for its “heavy handed” use of oak. Just give it some time in the cellar and the oak integrates into the fruit. Some reputations are harder to shake. These are great wines that any White Burgundy lover or Chardonnay lover for that matter needs to have on their list.
64. Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Sec – This is a basic Vouvray from the greatest producer of Chenin Blanc on the planet. It is a dry wine and is delicious when released. It will also last a very long time in a cellar. Each vintage is good and reflects the qualities that the vintage had to offer.
65. Dom Faiveley Latricieres Chambertin – An old school red Burgundy producer. This Grand Cru needs a lot of time to develop. Ten to twenty years from vintage is a starting point. These are lean, sinewy wines that are not for everyone. Yet, for those whol like their Pinot Noir in this style, it doesn’t get much better.
66. Foreau Vouvray Moellleux Clos Naudin – Foreau gets my vote for close second among Chenin Blanc producers and comes out on top in some vintages. This is a sweet wine that can work with some foods during dinner or certainly for dessert. It will last forever in a good cellar.
67. Francois Chidaine Montlouis les Lys - Another Loire Valley Chenin Blanc wine. Chidaine is an up and coming estate that in the last ten years has ascended to the top level of producers. This is a silky wine that will be a bit sweet and viscous. Goes well with food or as an aperitif.
68. Domaine Romanée Conti Echezaux – The weak link in the DRC lineup, but still a very good to great wine. Often times the only chance mere mortals will have a chance to taste a DRC wine due to pricing. For that reason alone, it makes the list.
69. Georges Vernay Condrieu Coteaux du Vernon – This is a white wine from the Rhone region made from the Viognier grape. While there are many nice Condrieu’s, Vernay was the master. I believe his daughter is now making the wines and the quality is just as good. It’s amazing how delicate Viognier from this Condrieu region can be.
70. Chateau Lagrezette Le Pigeonnier – This is a red wine from the Cahors region of France. This is one of the ancestral homes of the Malbec grape made famous in Argentina. It’s a different wine when made in Cahors. This is dense and mineral driven with nice acidity and good fruit as well. If one wants to understand Malbec, this is a must.
71. Pascal Cotat Sancerre Chavignol Le Grand Cote – Another Sauvignon Blanc from the Cotat family but a different branch. This is a big Sauvignon Blanc by French standards (but not by new Zealand or California).
72. Domaine des Baumard Savennières Clos de Papillon – A Chenin Blanc from the Savennières region of the Loire Valley. This is a wine that probably needs at least a couple of years from release but will last a long time. It has a great acidity that works so well with food.
73. Domaine Luneau-Papin Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie L d'Or – Since the list is near the end, it’s time for another Muscadet. Affordable, goes great with food and will last longer than most people think. This is a little fatter than the Briords mentioned earlier.
74. Louis Roderer Cristal – One more Champagne for the road? This ubiquitous wine was a symbol of rappers around the millennium. It seems to have fallen out of favor which means the price has dropped a bit. Despite all the notoriety, it is a great Champagne. Crisp and clean with a finish that lasts forever.
75. Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel Cuvee de la Reine des Bois – Up until now, no non-sparkling Rosés. That doesn’t seem right. This might be the best one from France, but there are so many good ones, I put this in to represent its category. Clean with fresh fruit. Great on a summer or fall afternoon. Works with lunch and dinner.
That’s my list. There are so many other wines that I could have put in. How many of these have you had? Did I leave out any? Which ones wouldn’t you put on your list? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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