White wine

The French Renaissance: Best French White Wines

Food & Drink /


Don’t overlook classic French white wines, says Tom Gilbey

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France doesn’t have the best reputation for consistency and value when it comes to wine, but it’s come a long way in recent years. Well, actually, our wine stores and supermarkets have come a long way in making it much easier for us to spot the good’uns. A walk up the aisles now gives us plenty of variety, much more consistency and some great value. But does France give us anything that we can’t buy from every other great wine producing country?

The short answer is, yes it does. As with their food produce (take Brie de Meaux for example), they protect their wine styles fiercely, ensuring their wines speak of their area of origin. ‘Gut de terroir’ they call it: the taste of the grape in that particular soil in that particular area.

Given, then, that the French work so hard to protect their wine styles and our UK wine buyers have made it increasingly ‘safe’ for us to buy them, it seems that there’s never been a better time to head for the shops

Here below are some of France’s great white wine styles with a fabulous example of each to try.

Best French White Wines

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Sauvignon de Touraine

Sauvignon de Touraine

Often priced well below £10, and delivering all the freshness and zestiness that a good Marlborough Sauvignon does but with an extra hint of herbaceousness, making it both interesting and delicious.

Sainsbury’s Touraine Sauvignon Blanc, Taste the Difference, £7.50, sainsburys.co.uk

Chablis Louis Moreau

Chablis

Every wine country in the world wants to make one of these… but they can’t. The result of Chardonnay, grown on fossil rich kimmeridgean clay soils in the cool climate of northern burgundy, these wines are dry with plenty of green apple fruit and incredibly classy. The only Chardonnay I know of that Sauvignon Blanc lovers will enjoy too.

Chablis Louis Moreau, £17.99, waitrose.com

Saint Véran 'Haute Cuvée' 2020, Rijckaert F. Rouve

Saint Veran

One of France’s most consistently delicious expressions of Chardonnay. Here, in southern Burgundy, the warm sun heats up the clay rich vineyards to produce wonderful creamy, citrus like wines.

Saint Véran ‘Haute Cuvée’ 2020, Rijckaert F. Rouve, £16.99, majestic.co.uk

Sancerre, Domaine Naudet

Sancerre

This is the most famous appellation of the Loire Valley where Sauvignon expresses itself with crisp, gooseberry-like fruit and freshly cut grass. The perfect wine with seafood.

Sancerre, Domaine Naudet, £14.99, waitrose.com

Bernard Fouquet Cuvée de Silex Vouvray

Vouvray

Vouvray has to be made using Chenin Blanc and here in the Loire it can conjure up a whole orchard of fruit in the glass. Look for Vouvray Sec if you want a dry wine and strap yourself in for a wonderful taste sensation.

Bernard Fouquet Cuvée de Silex Vouvray, £9.99, waitrose.com

Tesco Finest Sauternes

Sauternes

This is the most famous sweet wine in the world. Sauternes sits to the south of Bordeaux where they allow the Semillon and Muscadelle grapes to ‘dry rot’ in September. This concentrates the sugar and makes for an intensely sweet dessert wine that’s a match made in heaven with Tarte Tatin.

Tesco Finest Sauternes, £12, tesco.com

Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine ‘Sur Lie’, Domaine de la Tourmaline

Muscadet de Sevre et Maine ‘sur Lie’

Famed for producing 1980’s battery acid, Muscadet is now a delicious Sauvignon look-a-like with energy, freshness and plenty of ripe fruit.

Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine ‘Sur Lie’, Domaine de la Tourmaline, £7.99, majestic.co.uk

Condrieu 'La Butte d'Or', Alain Jaume

Condrieu

The most well known appellation of the Northern Rhone and unquestionably the greatest expression of Viognier… in the world. This is the benchmark. It’s expensive but if you want to experience the ripest peach getting hitched to the raciest apricot then try this wine below.

Condrieu ‘La Butte d’Or’, Alain Jaume, £34.99, majestic.co.uk

Tom Gilbey has over 30 years of experience in the wine trade. In 2020 he founded his eponymous wine company, which curates wine-focused events in venues across London, plus sells wine online. Find out more at tomgilbey.com

Main image: Getty Images