French red wine is considered as a benchmark of quality with its delicate aromas, flavors, and the promise of a beautiful textural experience! Also, when it comes to record-setting auction prices, French red wines are frequently on the forefront as well.
You’ll come across endless variations of French red wines depending on the grapes used, where they’re made, and many other aspects. Some of them also age beautifully, which make them fine additions to your wine cellar!
What are the different types of French red wine? How is it made?
And which are the best ones you should buy?
In this article, discover all the nuances of French red wines, the wine regions, grapes used, and the easiest way to buy some of the best French red bottles out there.
This Article Contains
- French Red Wine Grape Varieties
- Best French Red Wines (by Region) 2020 (including Prices, Tasting Notes)
- Rhone Valley
- Jura Provence
- South West France
- Loire Valley
French Red Wine Grape Varieties
France is the second largest grape growing region in the world producing over 250 different varietals.
To know more about French wine regions check out this article.
Also discover the best French wines to buy in 2020 in this detailed article.
Here are the main grape varieties grown in this region:
10 Popular Red Wine Grape Varieties in France
Around 11% of the world’s Merlot wines are made in France, mainly in Bordeaux, Bergerac, Cahors and Languedoc-Roussillon.
Merlot is often blended with grape varieties of higher tannins to produce softer textures, the reason why it forms a perfect Vin de Table (table wine) with flavors of red fruits. The Cabernet - Merlot blend is also highly sought-after by Merlot wine lovers.
Grenache is one of the most widely produced grape varieties in Cote du Rhone (Rhone Valley) and Languedoc-Roussillon in France. Grenache wine offers a perfect blend of woody and fruity flavors.
Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape that offers a rich dark fruit flavor much loved by red wine lovers. It is primarily made in regions like the Hermitage Appellation of Rhone Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon.
Carignan has high tannin levels, acidity, and lends a rich color to the wines. It is made in the Languedoc regions of Aude, Gard and Herault.
It is often blended with Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, and produces dark fruit flavors with spice, licorice, and pepper.
5. Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon wines have great aging potential, making them perfect for long-term storage. A key ingredient in the Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most planted grape variety. They’re typically made in Bordeaux and South-west France.
6. Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc can be found in Bordeaux, Loire, and Languedoc-Roussillon.
Between the two Cabernet grapes, Cabernet Franc has lower acidity and thinner skin than Cabernet Sauvignon, is easier to grow and ripens earlier. Cabernet Franc is known for its spicy and earthy flavors.
The Gamay grape variety is found in Beaujolais and Loire Valley. In Loire, it is used to produce rose wines. Gamay red wines produce Pinot Noir flavors, including floral aromas, and medium-high acidity.
8. Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a common French wine grape variety grown in Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and Loire Valley(Sancerre AOC).
One of the most widely produced grape varieties of France, Pinot Noir French wines are famous for their low tannin levels, especially, Domaine de la Romanee, Conti Grand Cru and Domaine Leroy Chambertin Grand Cru.
This grape is grown in Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence, and Southern Rhone to produce Chateau Musar and Ostuni wines.
Cinsaut grape variety is used in Southern Rhone Blend for its fresh and fruity flavors of red berries. It is also a key grape in Vin de Pays d’AOC of Languedoc-Roussillon region.
10. Pinot Meunier
Pinot Meunier is a sparkling wine grape variety produced in Champagne, Loire, and Lorraine. Being a high-acid grape, it’s used to produce Champagne and sparkling wines.
Other French Grape Varieties
Some of the other French wine grapes include Mourvedre, Malbec, Alicante Bouschet, Muscat de Hambourg, Marselan, Nielluccio, Villard Noir and Negrette.
So, which French wine bottles should you own?
Best French Red Wines (by Region) 2020 - Including Prices, Tasting Notes
The Bordeaux terroir varies significantly from the right bank to the left bank - so wines from the Left Bank are mostly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with a bit of Merlot, and Right Bank wines are more Merlot or Cabernet Franc with a smaller amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here are our favorite Bordeaux wines.
A. 2018 Châteaux Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan Rouge, Bordeaux
A perfect Bordeaux Blend, this French red wine has terroir-induced earthy aromas, and fine-grained tannins that provide a silky texture. The Châteaux Haut Brion vineyard also produces a dry white wine, Châteaux Haut Brion Blanc.
With 49.4% Merlot, 38.7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11.9% Cabernet Franc, this wine makes a classic Cabernet Merlot blend.
Average Price of 2018 Châteaux Haut Brion, Pessac Leognan Rouge: $580
B. 2018 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac, Medoc, Bordeaux
This famous Bordeaux Blend is made in Chateau Lafite Rothschild in the Médoc ‘Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée’ or AOC of Bordeaux located on the left bank of Gironde estuary.
The wine offers a contrasting mix of dark fruity flavors and earthy aromas of tobacco, cedar, and hazelnuts.
Average price of 2018 Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Pauillac: $757
Burgundy is known for fine wines like Chablis and Montrachet. Burgundy is also known for wines from Beaune, Pouilly Fuissé and Côte de Nuits
Burgundy wines are classified into Grand Cru, Premier cru, village appellation, and regional appellation. Here are our Burgundies.
A. 2016 Domaine de la Romanee, Conti Romanee, Conti Grand Cru, Burgundy
Domaine de La Romanee is one of the most sought-after wines from Burgundy. This Burgundy wine reveals finely grained tannins with balanced acidity levels with dominant berry flavors.
Average price of 2016 Domaine de la Romanee, Conti Romanee: $21,430
B. 2015 Domaine de la Romanee, Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole, Burgundy
A small Vineyard in Burgundy, this French wine is one of the richest and most savory Pinot Noir wines. This smooth and mildly acidic Burgundy is a blast of red and black berries with a strong aroma of dark fruit.
Average price of 2015 Domaine de la Romanee, Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole: $6,061
The Champagne wine region is known for its sweet and dry brut wines made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes.
Here’s our pick of Champagne wines.
A.1990 Dom Perignon Oenotheque Rose Champagne
Dom Perignon is a brand owned by Moet & Chandon. This burnished, deep orange wine was the first Dom Perignon Rose to be released within the Oenotheque program. A sip reveals delicate layers of mushrooms, truffles, tea, and autumn leaves. With air, you’ll get flavors of candied orange peel, spices, dried roses, and white pepper.
Average price of 1990 Dom Perignon Oenotheque Rose Champagne: $720+
B. 1982 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Rose Millesime Champagne
The 1982 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Rose Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Produced from a vineyard of northern France, this ‘Vigne Francais’ produces fresh aromas of dry tree fruits on the nose. On the palate, it offers brioche, toast, and almond flavors.
Average price of 1982 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Rose Millesime: $1,110
Beaujolais is famous for its 100% Gamay wines influenced by the semi-continental climate and rich terroirs.
Check out these delicious Beaujolais wines:
A. 2017 Dominique Piron Morgon Cote Du Py, Beaujolais
If you like sweet wines, then this French red is a great wine for you. It is 100% Gamay with a taste of black and red berries and delicate tannins bringing out a sweet fruit flavor.
Average price of 2017 Dominique Piron Morgon Cote Du Py: $24
B. 2016 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Cote Du Py, Beaujolais
The 2016 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon brings out the authentic flavors of the Beaujolais Gamay grapes. It is made using traditional Beaujolais winemaking techniques giving it the aromas of sweet berries and musty raspberry.
Average price of 2016 Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Côte Du Py: $42
5. Rhone Valley
Besides white wine like Viognier, Rhone Valley also produces delicious reds, especially in the popular red wine appellation of Côte du Rhône.
Here are some amazing Rhone wines.
A. 2015 E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne, Rhone
Other than Cote du Rhone, Cote Rotie is also a well-known red wine appellation of Northern Rhone.
The La Landonne is a classic example of the 100% Syrah Rhone wine. This wine is dominated by the dark fruity flavors of blueberries and offers a tangy kick.
Average price of 2015 E. Guigal Cote Rotie La Landonne: $416
B. 2016 Chateaux de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Grand Cuvee Hommage a Jacques Perrin, Rhone
This is the perfect Southern Rhone Blend wine that contains 75% Mourvèdre and 10% Syrah, 10% Grenache. This wine has aromas of minerals, spices, and wild herbs with finely-grained tannins.
Average price of 2016 Châteaux de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Grand Cuvée: $440
Jura wine region is located in the east of France. The Poulsard, Trousseau, Savagnin, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are grown in Jura.
A. 2016 Domaine du Pelican Arbois Trois Cepages, Jura
This French red contains a red blend of Pinot Noir, Poulsard and Trousseau. It is a light and perfumed wine with a mild flavor of berries, and aromas of wild herbs.
Average price of 2016 Domaine du Pelican Arbois Trois Cepages: $42
B. 2015 Emmanuel Houillon - Pierre Overnoy Arbois - Pupillin Poulsard, Jura
This Jura wine is made in the Arbois-Pupillin sub-appellation, and gives off notes of red berries, tomatoes, spices and flowery scents.
Average price of 2015 Emmanuel Houillon - Pierre Overnoy Arbois: $378
Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the red wine grape varieties grown in Provence.
B. 2018 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee La Tourtine, Provence
This bold and structured Provence wine is a blend of Cinsaut, Grenache, and Mourvedre grape varieties. The 2018 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge gives strong earthy aromas and fruity flavors with subtle taste of oak aging.
Average price of 2018 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee La Tourtine: $88
B. 2016 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee Cabassaou, Provence
A 95% Mourvedre with small portions of Syrah and Cinsaut, the Tempier produces dominant notes of blackberry and blackcurrant.
Average price of 2016 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge Cuvee Cabassaou: $108
8. South West France
Located in the east of Bordeaux, South West France is famous for its red wines. Some of the red wine grape varieties grown in the region include Cabernet (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc), Merlot, Malbec, and Mérille.
A. 2014 du Cedre ‘Le Cedre’, Cahors
This wine from Cahors is predominantly a Malbec wine. The red grape is bold and a little tannic. This smooth, dry Malbec wine is a little acidic with dominant flavors of black fruit and oaky hints.
Average price of 2014 du Cedre ‘Le Cedre’: $39
B. 2015 Brumont Château Montus ‘La Tyre’, Madiran
With 98% Tannat and 2% Cabernet Franc grape varieties, this wine is filled with the richness of blackcurrant flavors. The Cabernet gives a rich red color and velvety texture to the perfectly blended Chateau Montus wine.
Average price of 2015 Brumont Château Montus ‘La Tyre’: $124
9. Loire Valley
The Loire valley wine region of France grows fine grape varieties, including Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, and Gamay.
Here are our favorite Loire wines:
A. 2011 Gerald Vallee Domaine de la Cotelleraie Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil l'Envolée, Loire
This classic Cabernet Franc French wine has a fine finish with rich flavors of loganberry, red berries, and plums.The wine has a very classic Cabernet Franc taste that ages well in storage.
Average price of 2011 Gerald Vallee Domaine de la Cotellerie: $32
B. 2017 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses, Loire
Coming from the Chinon appellation in Loire Valley, this Loire wine is produced from Cabernet Franc grape. It opens to a refreshing acidity, balanced tannin levels, and dark berry and herb flavor.
Average price of 2017 Olga Raffault Chinon Les Picasses: $38
The grape varieties grown in Alsace are Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat d'Alsace, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir.
A. 2016 Albert Mann Pinot Noir Grand H, Alsace
This French red wine is predominantly Pinot Noir. It has fine tannins and medium acidity. This French wine brings out slightly sweet flavors of red berries and hints of earthy tones from oak aging.
Average price of 2016 Albert Mann Pinot Noir Grand H: $109
B. 2017 Albert Mann Pinot Noir Clos de La Faille, Alsace
Made in the predominantly white wine region of Alsace, this classic Pinot Noir wine has a light and perfumed body. It produces strong aromas of cherries, strawberries, and vanilla with low tannins and a strong sense of oak barrel aging.
Average price of 2017 Albert Mann Pinot Noir Clos de La Faille: $63
This beautiful island produces some of the finest wines of France with three main grape varieties - Sciaccarellu, the Niellucciu, and the Vermentino.
A. 2018 Yves Leccia Domaine d’E Croce Patrimonio, Corsica
This red wine is a blend of Grenache and Sangiovese grapes and is the third most popular wine in Corsica. The dark-skinned Grenache grapes give a deep ruby color to wine. Sangiovese adds a sour cherry flavor.
Average price of 2018 Yves Leccia Domaine d’E Croce Patrimonio: $28
B. 2016 Alain Courrèges Domaine de Vaccelli Ajaccio Granit Rouge, Corsica
This Ajaccio appellation winemaker produces some great white wines, but their red wines steal the show. This red wine is made from the native Nielluccio and Sciaccarellu grapes. It has a perfect balance of dark and red berries, and noticeable tannins.
Average price of 2016 Alain Courrèges Domaine de Vaccelli Ajaccio Granit Rouge: $54
Now, how do you buy French red wines?
You could drop in to a French vineyard or winery yourself, or pick up bottles from a wine merchant, a boutique wine store, or an auction.
The challenge here is that you’ll have to spend hours researching which wine brands to buy, find the right place to buy from, and make sure you’ve got a genuine bottle at the right price!
Here’s a much smarter option instead:
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French red wine:
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How it Works
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French red wines offer a mesmerizing range of flavors and styles to suit any palate! Some of them age for decades making them excellent investment wines as well.
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