Listing or naming the “best” anything can be a daunting exercise in subjectivity, and that’s particularly true when it comes to types of wine, wine-producing countries and wine regions.
That said, lists are fun, so I’ve decided to go out on a long subjectivity limb and share what I believe are the four best wine regions in France — where the regions are known as appellations.
I’m guessing my first three picks won’t cause much controversy, although it would be easy to argue with the order. My fourth pick may be surprising, but I think I can make a compelling case for it.
Ready for the list? Here we go…
This is arguably the most famous of France’s appellations, the place where the country’s most “collectible” wines are crafted. It’s a region where some white wines are made, but red wines rule.
Most of the reds, like the 2015 Les Charmes du Roy, are blends, with either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot most often accounting for the majority of the cuvee. In this case, the wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and it’s absolutely delicious.
The 2015 Les Charmes du Roy is part of a Vinesse collection of wines called Flawless French Reds, which also includes a Cabernet and a Pinot Noir.
Wine from this appellation also can be collectible, particularly Pinot Noir (often referred to simply as “red Burgundy”) from long-established estates. Burgundy also is the source of some of France’s finest Chardonnay (a.k.a. “white Burgundy”).
This is another hotbed of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but because it’s a cool-climate area, the grapes grown there are ideal for making sparkling wine. We like to enjoy bubbly year-round, but there’s no denying that Champagne is the go-to beverage for celebrations.
- Cotes du Rhone
While the Rhone region of France may be off the vinous radar of many people, it produces some of my favorite wines, including engaging blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
It also makes some of my favorite whites, including the 2015 Tete du Rhone Blanc, a sublime blend of White Grenache, Viognier, Roussanne, Clairette and Bourboulenc. It’s floral, fruitful and refreshing — everything I look for in a white Cotes du Rhone.
The 2015 Tete du Rhone Blanc is part of the Spellbinding French Whites collection, which also includes a light and lovely rosé and floral, full-bodied and spicy Viognier.
As a long-time fan of Rhone wines, I was heartened many years ago when a group of American winemakers formed a group called the “Rhone Rangers.” They focus on making wines from Rhone varieties, and that’s proof enough for me that the Cotes du Rhone is deserving of the No. 4 spot on my list.