6 recommended French white wines for under £10
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Selected by Master of Wine Sally Easton, one of just 418 Masters of Wine in the world, these whites have more than just the affordable price tag to recommend them.
Routes Catalanes, blanc, 2019, Côtes Catalanes IGP, Occitanie
There’s plenty of ripe, fleshy, aromatic Mediterranean-fruity flavour in this easy-drinking wine. Melon, poached peach, lemon pith and lemon pulp, all rolled up in a juicy, round-textured palate, with the tiniest edgy grip of structure to hold the good volume of primary fruit flavours in balance. An innovative and readily-appealing blend of grenache blanc, muscat and the more famous chardonnay.
Drink with: Early-season picnic nibbles
Buy from: Majestic
Laurent Miquel, Vendanges Nocturnes Viognier 2020, IGP Oc, Languedoc
Harvesting grapes at night, especially in the sunny south of France, means the grapes are cooler and fresher, with more retained aromas. For this youthful wine, that translates to peach, honeysuckle and lemon primary fragrances and flavours. In the medium body, sweet-spiced peach compote flavours meld with the pithy tang of lemon zest. On the finish a hint of fresh almond skin lifts the sweet, juicy Mediterranean fruits. There’s plenty of flavour here for under a tenner.
Drink with: Salmon and cucumber tartare
Buy from: Waitrose
Domaine Saint Gayan, Argiles blanc 2019, IGP Méditerranée
IGP Méditerranée covers the area of the south of France east of Languedoc (IGP d’Oc). This is a cracking blend of piquepoul, bourboulenc and grenache blanc, creating zingy acid tingle on the palate, in combination with a roundness and fleshiness of Mediterranean fruits. Sweet-spiced poached peach flavours mix with those of preserved lemon and honey-raisin baked Bramley apples, in a wine of big flavour impact with clean refreshing-ness.
Drink with: Salmon mousse
Buy from: Yapp Brothers
Saint Jean d'Aumières, L'Autodidacte Viognier, 2019, IGP Pays d’Oc
Viognier might be better-known as a Rhône variety, epitomised in Condrieu, but two-thirds of French plantings of the variety are in Languedoc and Roussillon. The Castan family make this one from a plot smaller than a hectare, in the Terrasses du Larzac. Protective winemaking preserves the freshness and fruitiness of viognier’s aromas and flavours. Lemon zest, honeysuckle and peach skin aromas lead into a rich, round and fresh and plush palate of plentiful, juicy Mediterranean fruits – lemon, peach, apricot, even a hint of lime.
Drink with: Sushi
Buy from: Yorkshire Vintners
Mes Lies Melon 2020, Vin de France
This is an intriguing and tasty blend of Loire valley key grape varieties, melon de Bourgogne (think muscadet) and sauvignon blanc, icon varieties from west and east ends of the region, though sauvignon blanc is grown across much of the valley. Because ne’er the twain these two should meet, the wine is labelled as Vin de France. Aromas seem to combine saline steel of melon with lemongrass and grapefruit of sauvignon blanc. This appealing wine is fresh, young, fruity, with apple and peach included on the palate, and with a clean, sappy finish.
Drink with: A little too much ease! Be moderate
Buy from: Stone, Vine and Sun
Badet Clement, Les Jamelles Viognier 2020, IGP Pays d’Oc, Languedoc
Les Jamelles is a range of varietally labelled wines from Languedoc. Viognier is better-known as a Rhône valley grape in the likes of Condrieu appellation, which has a heftier price tag to match. In this wine though, the varietal flavour of viognier has been captured in an easy-drinking and fresh, aperitif-style wine. Hints of peach, apple and lemon flesh mingle with aromas of honeysuckle, honeyed spice. The texture is fresh, without being tart (viognier doesn’t have high acid levels), and smooth on the tongue. There’s plenty to like here for the modest price.
Drink with: Nibbles, as an aperitif
Buy from: Co-op