Top 10 French Red Wines for 2022
We all know fine red wine now comes from every corner of the earth, but there’s just something special about French wine. From Burgundy’s Pinot Noir to the robust Bordeaux blends, from the spicy Rhône reds to the fruit-forward Mediterranean expressions of Southern France — French red wine is exceptional.
France’s complex appellation system keeps the bar high in terms of quality and consistency, so much that you can choose a bottle of French wine with your eyes closed and be rarely disappointed. Having said that, some bottles are on another level. In no particular order, here is our list of the top ten French red wines - the best French wine in Pierre Hourlier Wines's portfolio.
Châteauneuf du Pape is one of the most prestigious appellations in the Southern Rhône Valley. Here, producers use the many local varieties to make spectacular red and white wine with a reputation going back to the Middle Ages.
Domaine Pontifical is a family-owned estate founded one hundred years ago.
It shines for its red Châteauneuf du Pape, made with 75% Grenache Noir and a touch of Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault and Mourvedre. The dominance of Grenache brings a sense of fullness and richness in a harmonious example of the historical appellation.
Some of the most expensive wines on the planet come from the Côte d’Or, Burgundy’s “Golden Slope.” Still, the region is also home to spectacular value, especially at the Premier Cru level.
Domaine Coste-Caumartin owns thirteen hectares of vines in the Côte d’Or which can be traced back to the Dukes in Burgundy between 1000 and 1400AD. Les Chouacheux is a Premier Cru with intense red cherry aromas, baking spices and undergrowth over a silky palate with balancing acidity.
Gigondas is a reputable appellation in Southern Rhône and a source of bold, age-worthy reds at unbeatable prices. Producers like Domaine Raspail-Ay have put the region on the map for their traditionalist approach to winemaking in the vineyard and cellar.
Domaine Raspail-Ay's Gigondas is a Grenache-based blend with Syrah and Mourvedre, fermented in concrete tanks and aged in large oak foudres. The first nose offers strawberries and raspberries, followed by dried herbs and earthbound aromas. The palate is rich and structured, and the finish is endless.
Bordeaux will always have a place on a top ten list for fine wine. Still, the best value comes from lesser-known appellations in the area, such as Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux. Chateaux across the Gironde, in the northern Right Bank, are doing everything right, and it’s time we look at what they offer.
Chateau Les Bertrands makes a juicy 95% Merlot from its family-owned vineyards. The inky red wine brings forward black and blue fruit aromas and hints of leather over a palate blessed by round tannins and medium acidity.
Pierre Gaillard’s wine is extraordinary. It comes from one of the warmest appellations in France, Collioure, a designation for dry red wine within the traditional area known for its naturally sweet wines: Banyuls. This means this is one of France’s boldest and most fruit-forward wines.
Magenca is a red blend of 60% Grenache Noir, 20% Mourvèdre and 20% Carignan; it shows ripe and dried fruit scents, oak spices and elegant but persistent tannins along with pleasant alcoholic warmth. Gaillard wines can age as well and are worthy of any cellar.
Long gone are the days when Beaujolais was just a fruity everyday wine. The region’s Crus produce wine of the highest level. Domaine Matray is one of the few estates in the area making terroir-driven wine in Beaujolais — they’ve been making wine in the appellation for five generations.
Matray’s Saint Amour is a ruby-red wine with red fruit aromas and floral scents over a Burgundian palate with powdery tannins and a tight acidic backbone. The wine undergoes semi-carbonic maceration, giving it a spirited personality.
You might know neighbouring Sancerre for its citrusy, herbal and flinty Sauvignon Blanc, but the appellation is also home to splendid Menetou-Salon. These are light, elegant wines with immense gastronomic potential.
Karine Lauverjat crafts an extraordinary Pinot aged in Tronçais oak for ten months for a refreshing and lively expression of the thin-skinned grape. Black cherries, oaky vanilla and earthy minerality make this wonderful light-bodied red a superb alternative for better-known Burgundian Pinots.
Wine lovers are just starting to realise that Pessac-Leognan, a small appellation in Graves, Bordeaux, is as competitive as the region’s northern appellations. Here, La Chapelle Haut Nouchet produces age-worthy red wine from thirty-two hectares of vines planted outside the city of Bordeaux.
La Chapelle Haut Nouchet combines 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot for a nuanced, garnet-hued wine with ripe black fruit, spice box and dried herb aromas over a round and smooth palate with extraordinary finesse. This wine can age for a few decades and is worthy of the most memorable occasions.
Minervois is a prestigious site in Languedoc-Roussillon, and a source of red, white and rosé wines made with local, warm-climate varieties. An authentic gem in Southern France, Minervois is gaining recognition for its charmingly rustic red wines.
Domaine Pierre Cros is a traditionalist estate producing terroir-driven wines with its own dry-farmed grapes. The estate’s Les Costes, a blend of Syrah and Grenache, is one of its most successful undertakings. Blackberries, spices and mint dominate the wine’s nose, while the palate offers integrated tannins and refreshing acidity.
Domaine Aupy Red shows tart red fruit followed by hints of roasted cacao beans and brown spices over a round but structured palate extending long into the aftertaste, leaving a fruity impression; this is handmade wine of the highest quality. What are your favourite French wines?