In a world where prices seem to rise constantly, and the future of the economy is uncertain, it’s good to know that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for quantity.
France is home to some of the priciest, most exclusive wines in the world and it’s certainly the country to turn to if you’re looking for something extra special. So, it could seem strange to link France and value for money, but as a great wine nation should, it offers a bit of both.
In among the lovely wines produced in France there are, of course, plenty of over-priced and lesser quality wines too. The key, as it always is when looking for a wine to enjoy, is to find a balance of quality yet affordable wines.
Premium wines have been rising in price steadily for a while now, leaving French wine as a good option for value. For example, even champagne is cheaper than English sparkling wine at the moment, thanks to some stunning seasons for English vineyards over the last couple of years. Look out for creamy, stylish champagnes that aren’t too expensive, and the chances are you’ll be enjoying a superior flavour.
If you’re looking for something other than a champagne style wine, then it’s a case of knowing which to look out for. This is particularly the case when it comes to selecting from a wine list at a restaurant, as classic wines are generally heavily marked up.
If you go for Macon Villages rather than the more expensive Chassagne-Montrachet, for example, you’re in for a treat. Or you could choose a deep and vibrant Beaujolais (which is, of course, technically part of the Burgundy region), instead of pricier wines from the Cote d’Or. The massive vineyards in the Langeudoc-Roussillon also offer reliable and enjoyable wines for decent prices.
Alternatively, if you spy a wine from a region you’re unfamiliar with, the chances are it’s going to better value than the one you know. Good regions to look out for a Reuilly in the Loire, costieres de nimes on the edge of the Rhone river, Bergerac on the outskirts of Bordeaux and jurancon sec in the south west. The very obscure pacherenc du vic bilh region offers absolutely lovely dry and sweet wines, so it’s always worth seeking out.
You should look out for French bottles labelled with the place they’re made, rather than the ones that pick out the grape variety. This generally means a tastier bottle, although there are exceptions like jura chardonnay and piquepoul noir grapes.
France also offers some decent natural wines. These include petillant naturel (also known as ‘pet nat’), which is a gently fizzy sparkling that is bottle while still undergoing the fermentation process.
Keep your eyes peeled, and you can find plenty of French wines to enjoy without breaking the bank.