6 Exciting French Red Wines To Try!

Do you want to venture into French wine but don’t know where to begin? Here are some recommendations you may want to start with. Keep in mind that in France, wines are named by their region, or sense of place, rather than grape. Let’s jump in!

Bordeaux (Red Blend)

The 5 major grapes in Bordeaux blends are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. However, most red blends are either dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (from the left Bank of the river) or Merlot (right bank). But ultimately, each grape brings something unique to the marvelous final blend! Bordeaux wines tend to be a little more structured and less “juicy” than California red blends of the same grapes due to France’s cooler climate.

Beaujolais (Gamay)

Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine made from the Gamay grape and is commonly meant for young-drinking. In fact, when Beaujolais Nouveau is released right before Thanksgiving each year, it is an infant! At several weeks old, it is fresh, juicy, purple and has distinctive notes of banana and candy. (Note: Beaujolais Nouveau sells out fast and is only on the shelves for a few weeks in November/December, so grab it when you can).

Beaujolais Villages and Crus are wines are from Gamay grapes produced in a similar form at the “Village” level, but are more structured, developed and aged a bit before they are released. The end result is a wine with more complexity than the Nouveau styles. For the best expressions, you can look for the famous Village labels of Brouilly, Fleurie, Morgan and Moulin-à-Vent.

Burgundy (Pinot Noir)

Pinot Noir is the famed black grape of Burgundy, France. It varies from light and fruity, to developed and complex depending on its style and region. It is famously grown on the Côte d’ Or (Slopes of Gold), where some of its most well-known expressions come from the French Villages of Geoffrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Vosne-Romanee, Nuits-Saint-George, Pommard and Volnay. You’ll pay a bit more but Look for these labels for some of France’s best quality Pinots.

Cahors (Malbec)

Although we usually associate Malbec with Argentina, it is a black grape from Southwest France. Once called “black wine,” it boasts dark flavors of black fruits like black plum and blackberry, with hints of licorice, black pepper, coconut and meat. Argentinean Malbecs are often a bit fruitier and riper, but still lead with the dark fruit flavors and aromas.

Croze Hermitage (Syrah)

One of the most prominent expressions of French wine is Croze Hermitage, a small, hilly appellation in the northern Rhone. Wines here are made from the Syrah grape, although small amounts of white grapes Marsanne an Rousanne are sometimes added for color, complexity and flavor. Bold and tannic, these wines have the ability to age for many years, gaining even more complexity, development, and tertiary flavors as they mature in the bottle

Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Red Blend)

The big daddy of red blends is Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Chateau of the Pope Appellation). This red blend style can include as many as 13 grapes, although Grenache and Mourvédre are commonly the dominant varieties. Since wine-makers can choose from so many blending grapes, styles and flavors of Châteauneuf-du-Pape can fluctuate across locations and producers. But generally speaking, these wines are powerful, full-bodied, and higher in alcohol than many other blends with flavors of red fruit, black fruit, and spice.


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4 thoughts on “6 Exciting French Red Wines To Try!

  1. As I sit drinking my California blend, I’m surprised to learn that Malbec doesn’t just come from Argentina or that Syrah doesn’t just come from Australia. Interesting information.

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