Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

11. Domaine Raveneau Chablis les Clos – This wine has gotten expensive, but if you love Chardonnay (and especially if you think you don’t), taste this wine.  Crisp and clean with fruit and minerals.  Everything you could want in a white wine.  Great with food.  For my taste Chablis gets no better. 

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12. Krug – Perhaps the best non-vintage Champagne available.  Smooth as silk.  Great depth.  Easily available if not inexpensive.  No Champagne lover should miss trying this one. 

13. Chateau Cheval Blanc – Famous for being drunk out of a paper cup in the movie Sideways.  That would be reason enough, but this blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot is one of the best wines being made in Bordeaux.  Wildly expensive, sometimes an older vintage can still be found at a more reasonable price.  A unique wine in the wine world. 

14. Haut Brion Blanc – Who says white wines can’t age?  This one will.  It’s a love it or hate it experience which can be problematic for a wine this expensive.  Still, the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend can be ethereal, especially if it does have a few years on it.  There are lots of great white Bordeaux wines, but this is the best one. 

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

15. Comte Vogue Musigny Vielle Vignes – Another red Burgundy.  This is a wine that may not have quite as famous a name as DRC, but tell a Burgundy geek you tasted it, and they will drool on your shoes or wax poetically for hours about how lucky you are.  It needs time in a cellar, but a properly aged bottle has that transcendent quality that gives Burgundy its reputation. 

16. Guigal La La’s – These are actually three wines, but I include them as one.  La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque.  They are Syrahs from the Northern Rhone made in a modern and unique style.  The wines are VERY oaky if consumed furing the first few years, but eventually (maybe ten years) they absorb the oak and have enough fruit to provide spectacular drinking.  The difference among them is both the location where the grapes were grown and the small amounts of Viognier that may be in them.  Consider yourself lucky to be able to drink any of them. 

17. Chateau Petrus – One of the most expensive wines in the world.  This is a Merlot from the right bank of Bordeaux.  Is it worth the money vis-à-vis its neighbors?  Not a chance.  Still, there is a aura about this wine that puts it on this list.  At its best, it is a magnificent wine showing just how good Merlot can be.  To have the chance to try this is something any self respecting wine geek would not turn down. 

18. Domaine Romanée Conti Montrachet – I have never even seen a bottle of this Burgundy, although I have been told by friends who have tasted it that it is the best white wine from France.  Made in incredibly miniscule quantities, this is undoubtedly one of the best Chardonnays in the world.  And priced accordingly. 

19. Domaine Leroy Corton Charlemagne – This wine is the best white wine I have personally tasted from France.  It is Chardonnay that needs a decade at least to develop and show the true complexity and elegance that Chardonnay can reach when it is from the right vineyards and made by the right people.

20. Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet de Sevre et Maine Sur Lie Clos des Briords – Time for one that is affordable.  This will set you back about $16 (or less on sale).  It is from the Loire Valley and made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape.  This is the greatest value in wine today.  Fresh and clean, this wine drinks well with sea food, pasta and salads (or on its own).  It will last for a decade if well stored. 

21. Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Alexandra Rosé – My favorite reasonably priced Rosé Champagne.  For some reason, Rosé Champagnes are more expensive.  While, Krug, Dom Perignon and others make Rosés, I did not include them on this list as I did not think the premium price was justified.  Yet, there is something about the fresh red fruit notes (watermelon, cherries, etc.) about a good Rosé sparkling wine that is enticing and works. 

22. Chateau Margaux – Another of the five First Growths from Bordeaux.  This is the most “feminine” in style.  The nose is very perfumed.  It ages quite well and I find that it can exceed the other first growths especially in off vintages. 

23. Chateau Mouton Rothschild – The last of the First Growths.  Every year the wine carries a different label designed by some of the world’s great artists.  The wine itself is Cabernet based.  It needs time, but in some vintages, this is the best that Bordeaux can produce. 

24. Dujac Clos de la Roche – A red Burgundy from a Grand Cru vineyard.  This is a bit different in style than the prior ones on the list.  Perhaps a bit more austere, but with age it is a beautiful wine.  Complex and earthy.

25. Domaine Trimbach Riesling Clos Ste Hune – One of the great Rieslings of the world and the best from France.  Fuller and yet dryer than many other Rieslings, it does reflect the vintage conditions.  This is a white wine that needs a decade in the cellar to really show its depth and complexity.  A delicious wine that goes with a wide range of foods. 

26. Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape – Although this has crept up in price in recent years, it is still available and affordable.  From the Southern Rhone valley, this wine is mostly Grenache.  It drinks well on release and improves in the cellar for ten to twenty years.  Great with a wider variety of foods than many red wines too. 

27. Domaine Denis Mortet Chambertin – Another Grand Cru red wine from Burgundy.  Due to Denis Mortet’s tragic death a few years ago, the Domain is now run by his son.  There appears to be no let up in quality or change in style.  These are wines that often fly a bit under the radar and so the pricing has not reached astronomical levels - yet. 

28. Huet Moelleux Le Mont 1er Trie – The Huet family makes a range of Vouvrays based on the Chenin Blanc grape.  This is a sweeter version that can be drunk young but will last virtually forever in a good cellar.  Sweet with enough acidity to be food friendly, these wines remain some of the best values in wine. 

29. Chateau Pape Clement Blanc – A white wine from Bordeaux’s Grave (Pessac Leognan) region.  This is a Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend.  Beautiful citrus and minerals when young.  It turns slightly waxy and honeyed as it ages.  It is a dry wine and still slightly affordable despite the recent string of critical praise. 

30. Chateau Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape – A different sort of wine.  The predominant grape is Mourvèdre although there are 12 other grapes in the wine.  It is animalistic at time.  Drinks very well on release, but will reward cellaring.  If this is too pricey for your budget, look for their Coudoulet de Beaucastel as well, one of the top Cotes du Rhone wines.