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Wine Review: French wines not all expensive

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Just as I thought I had found all the affordable wines currently available in the marketplace, I was hit by a French miracle: wines that are not only of good quality but also easily affordable.

The average French citizen takes their wine very seriously, so seriously that they consume approximately 53 bottles of wine (approximately 14 gallons) per person per year, according to some reports. That alone tells us that there must be some good wines in France that are easily affordable by the average French citizen.

Among the affordable French wines are those that come from the Languedoc region, an area which borders the Mediterranean Sea, snuggles up against the Pyrenees Mountains and lies between the dime-sized nations of Monaco and Andorra. The warm climate, the winds off of the Mediterranean and the water from the Pyrenees Mountains make the Languedoc region an ideal place for the growing of grapes for winemaking.

Unfortunately, many of the French wines that we read about over here are the very expensive, super- premium, exotic wines that the average French or American citizen cannot afford. I lay the blame for this on the wine press, who prefer to exhort the exotic wines while leaving the real French wines, the everyday wines of average French citizen, in the dust.

That is a situation I now plan to destroy by introducing our readers to some excellent French wines that can fit comfortably into your wine-buying budget and end the idea that if a wine is French, it’s expensive.

Jeff Carrel 2019 Les Darons ($10)
Normally, a domestic $10 red wine would be a rather mediocre example of a variety, and nothing to get excited about. There is nothing lacking in this blend of 75% grenache, 20% syrah and 5% carignan. This wine offers the flavors and aromas of summer black fruits such as plums, blueberries and blackberries. This ends in a long finish that features the dark fruits, cinnamon and fresh ground pepper. My opinion of this wine is “ten bucks well spent.”

Chateau Montfin 2021 Vincent ($15)
This wine brings to mind the title of an old 1950s Spaghetti Western movie because, “For a Few Dollars More,” you can get this well-made wine. This wine has been made from organically farmed grapes sourced from old vines: 65% grenache (40-year vines), 30% carignan (70-year vines) and 5% syrah (40-year vines). Older vines produce fewer but more intensely flavored grapes. This red wine offers the aromas of red currant and raspberry with a suggestion of coriander, then ending with an impressive fruity finish. Old vines, organic farming and an affordable price are, to quote another old movie – “The Maltese Falcon” – “the stuff that dreams are made of.” This is an incredible wine at an even more incredible price.

Devois de Perret 2020 Rose ($12)
This is a dry rose wine as only the French can make. Made from 70% grenache and 30% syrah, its friendly pink color cradles an aroma of summer flowers and red berries that carry over to the flavor where they mingle with a hint of cherries. This is a dry wine that, because of the fruit, seems to be a bit sweet. It will not redefine the name rose, but rather illuminate it.

Domaine Reine Juliette 2020 Picpoul de Pinet ($12)
It would not be fair not to write about one of the excellent white wines of the Languedoc that has been made from the region's famous picpoul blanc grapes. This wine displays a bright yellow color and offers the aromas of citrus and green apple, ending in a refreshing minerality. This is not the same old white wine but one that cuts a new and fascinating flavor and aroma path. It should be tried, even if it is just out of curiosity.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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