Sharing a bottle of wine is great, however, it quickly disappears and for wine lovers, that means the cellar can dry up quickly. So how do you stock up on amazing French wine without breaking the bank? Luckily we at SomMailier.com have used our wine expertise to create our guide to hidden gems of French wine.
Tip One: Choose your region wisely!
It’s a known fact that when buying wine it’s hard to avoid the avalanche of high-quality Bordeaux, Loire Valley and Burgundy wine. But if you stick to your guns about finding lesser-known wine and discovering hidden gems, you’ll probably save yourself a pretty penny too.
Choosing your regions wisely is a great way to discover hidden gems and save money!
Whilst Bordeaux might be the safe option when it comes to quality, it’s the best way to empty your bank account. There are 17 wine regions in France, and some of them are so close to each other that you may not notice a big difference when making the move from one to the other.
The best way to buy wine that still has those characteristics and varieties without the hefty markup that comes with the Bordeaux title, is to move a little bit further south to the region of the South-West. This region holds similar territory and a healthy climate that will bring you fruity, elegant wine but for half the price.
So where is the South-West wine region? This beautiful region is nestled between the Pyrenees, Spain and the Atlantic ocean. It holds 120,000 acres of beautiful vines that make delicious wine. The South-West uses similar methods of creating wine as Bordeaux and many of the same grape varieties. In the four regions of the South-West region you can find Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Syrah and the entire Manseng family!
Tip Two: Venture outside your comfort zone to find a hidden gem!
Admittedly it is harder in the US to access the lesser-known French wine regions but it’s not inaccessible. When we stick to our comfort zone we stay happy. But we could be happier and this translates to our wine buying. If you’re someone prone to sticking to what you know, unfortunately, you’re missing out on the amazing variation of French wine. Trying something new is key to finding hidden gems!
Let’s talk about three amazing wine regions in France that are a little underrepresented:
Jura is a wine region tucked between Burgundy and the Swiss border. It profits enormously from amazing limestone, clay, and stone-packed soil which makes for a diverse wine catalog. Further to this Jura is a pioneer in organic wine, meaning you’re definitely going to experience something new, fresh and exciting when drinking Jura bottles. The main varieties of Jura are Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Trousseau, and Pinot Noir. So if you haven’t yet discovered the beauty of Jura, now is the time.
Situated right on the south coast of France, Languedoc is one of the biggest wine producing region in the world and exports 40% of France’s wine. Therefore Languedoc wine absolutely should be in your cellar. In terms of quality, Languedoc holds many winemakers with high accolades, such as Gerard Bértrand. In fact many top vignerorns consider the soil of Languedoc to be some of the best in France. This region is known for its red and rosé wine, however, quality white and orange wines are on the rise. Languedoc boasts varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Mouvèdre, Roussanne, Marsanne and more!
This beautiful island of France makes amazing and different wines. Being an offshore territory Corsica wine is touched by French and Italian influence. Therefore these wines make for a really interesting journey through Southern Europe. The wine from Corsica has a very aromatic quality due to a large number of herbs and plants that guard the vineyards of Corsica. The main grape varieties here are Sangiovese, Vermentino and Sciacarello, which is unique to Corsica. So if you want to really expand your palate and expertise, Corsica is the region for you.
These wonderful regions of France will provide excellent wine but protect your pocket. Unfortunately we have to be realistic and know that buying French wine in the US is going to mean paying some markup on the price. But instead of viewing it as an inconvenience for you, flip this idea and view it as a future investment in better wine from France. It’s important to note that a large majority of French vineyards are family-owned businesses or franchises. There’s very few large companies dominating the French wine market, because it simply isn’t allowed. So you know when you’re spending that money on their wine, you’re allowing that vineyard to continue their endeavours and continue to make gorgeous wine for your enjoyment.
After doing all your research and having selected some great new wine, it’s finally time to kick back, relax and enjoy your discoveries.
If you make a great discovery, whether that be from our club shipments, wine cellar or elsewhere, if our guide helped you, be sure to take a picture and tag @sommailierwineclub on Instagram or somMailier on Facebook! We look forward to seeing your wine adventures!
Want to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club? Every three months we send direct to your door three or six bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!
We recently visited Languedoc and actually went to one of the Bertrand Chateaux near Narbonne, and had a tasting; there were some great wines at reasonable prices ; we bought a fair bit! We will probably follow your advice and head to try some Corsican wine later this year. Many thanks for the recommendation!
Definitely try some Corsican wines but also from the South West of France (South of Bordeaux). They have some great wines there as well and very well priced.