The Best French Wine

Our wine expert Toni Jane explains why a French tipple will always hold a certain je ne sais quoi.

The Best French Wine

Bordeaux

The region of Bordeaux is the largest area in France under vine. It has a maritime climate and well-drained soil, great for growing vines. The famous right and left banks of the Bordeaux region are separated by the river Gironde. As well as the first class wines there are large quantities of early drinking wines at very affordable prices.

Lots of chains produce a blend of Bordeaux grapes under the title 'claret' - these tend to be good value for money.

Recommendations: Château La Tour de By Cru Bourgeoise Superieur, Medoc 2004 - raspberry, vanilla, soft tannins.

Château du Gazin 2008 Canon-Fronsac - strawberries, touch of oak, more powerful than I expected it to be, it can be drunk now, but it can also be left five years or more.

Burgundy

I have visited Burgundy many times, it is a place where food and drink takes priority - quite right too! The region is known for its high quality beef, so it's a steak lovers' paradise. You will discover full flavoured cheese such as Époisses. Of course escargot is a Burgundian signature cuisine, and they are served in many ways; from the shell, soup, with puff pastry and quiche. Naturally the wine must compliment the food. The wines are dominated by the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. The wines have a combination of fruit, earthiness and mineral flavours, good acidity and structure aided by the use of oak. The outcome is full flavoured wines to compliment the food.

Recommendations: Louis Max, Pouilly Fuisse, 2009 - refreshing and fruity, lemon and pear with hazelnut and a creamy body.

Louis Jadot Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2009 - pale ruby, with red fruit flavours, some spice, earthy.

The Rhône

The Rhône seems to be best known for the wines from Châteauneuf du Pape, in the Southern Rhône, these wines are full flavoured and often with high alcohol.

Recommendations: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée des Antiques 2007, spices with black fruit, very enjoyable this wine could keep for a while too.

A couple of other red Rhone wines I have enjoyed are Crozes Hermitage Petite Ruche 2008, Chapoutier and for under £7 try Cotes du Rhone Louis Bernard.

The Rhone does produce a whole range of styles of wines to be enjoyed, from Crémant de Die, traditional method sparkling wine at around £15 a bottle to Muscat de Beaumes de Venise a sweet desert wine.

Loire Valley

The white wines from the Loire Valley are among my favourites, there are many different styles. Compared to the new world wines of the same grape varieties I find these more mineral and lighter fruit flavours. The climate in the Loire is generally cooler.

Recommendations: Sancerre, Joseph Mellot, La Franchotte, 2010, dry, lemon, grassiness, gooseberry and a floral note.

Sautejeau Muscadet Cote de Charme 2009, dry, melon and citrus flavours, distinctly floral as well.

Domaine d'Orfeules 2010, Vouvray, fresh more sweeter style.

A votre santé!