“What are the best wines in France?” I’m often asked, last time I struggled to answer the same question about cheese and I had around 2000 cheese to pick from with 45 AOP (Protected Designation of Origin), so, for wines it doesn’t get any easier with over 3000 great wines, the “Millesimal” (year of production) and type (red, white, rosé…) added to the cépages and heir limitless “assemblage” (combination of grapes).
The best of the best (and the most expensive)
A Burgundy wine hold the top of the pyramid (out of 10 wines, 8 are French and preponderantly occupied by Burgundy wines) it’s the Romanée Conti Grand Cru 1945 and it will merely take you half a million dollars in auction (482 000€ at the last auction) to enjoy this rare gem. Of course you can opt for a Petrus Bordeau at between 2500$ to 30 000$ per bottle and for the less fortunate of us a Domaine Armand Rousseau Bourgogne Grand Cru for a round 1300€.
Best in reds (without having to rob a bank or sell one of your children)
In France, when we want to make an occasion special, we go to the wine cellar and pick up a nice bottle but nice doesn’t have to mean expensive, this is a shortcut, because of so many tastes, types and millesimal, you can get a nice wine for a tenner but if you go into 45$/55$ then you can be fairly sure to enjoy a great meal. For me, the best one is a Bordeaux Médoc from the Pauillac region a « Château d'Armailhac » a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot from 2002, it will nicely suits most types of meat with its dry yet fruity flavour. A must.
Best in White
Leaving Bordeau we cross France eastward to reach Burgundy, the land of Chardonnay wines with a beautiful « Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Nuits » from 2015, perfect balance between acidity and softness, dry it will get along well with any fish and seafood dishes but also pastas and cold cuts. You should find it around 35$.
Tip of the day, when picking a wine, do not look for “Grand Vin” (especially in Bordeaux) as it’s a self-credited title with no regulation behind to back the claim, it will guarantee a higher price on the tag but not necessarily a hidden gem, look instead for the “Grand Cru” as it really represent the quintessence of the quality of the vineyard (the earth) and cépage (the grape) and although it will come at a price the quality will be there for you to enjoy to the last drop.
Also, one of the reasons some of us take the national roads to go to our summer holiday destination rather than the highway is not just to save on the cost, it’s also to cross villages and locations where we will find lovely cheese and wines from local producers. Not yet a connoisseur? Please check the Montmartre Wine tour as an introduction to wine tasting and if you want to get your hand on lovely wines please check the Cave du Sénat and Cave des Tuileries
And remember, in France we do not drink and drive, first we drink ... then we drive *
(*) Except the pour soul that has been selected as driver