When it comes to exploring the world’s wine regions, no country gives us the variety of France. Below are 13 bottles from that country, including a few from two of its regions that are often overlooked — Beaujolais and Provence — along with seven Californians, a Washingtonian, an Australian, and three Italians.
Villa Sandi Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior Extra Dry NV ($15). Quite nice, offering golden fruit flavors followed by a crisp finish.
Collet “Art Déco” Champagne Brut NV ($39). Rich and fulfilling, with the patina of aged reserve wine in the mix which gives a hint of sherry flavors to the finish.
Eric Taillet Bansionensi Champagne Extra Brut NV ($45). In most Champagnes, pinot meunier is the third wheel, but here it gets first billing, as the only grape involved. The wine is an ideal food bubbly, with red berry flavors that suggest a table wine more than a Champagne.
Rose Infinie Côtes de Provence Blanc 2016 ($14). A blend that features the rolle grape (the Provençal name for vermentino), this is a very fragrant wine, with mellow fruitiness and crisp green notes interwoven.
Blass Reserve Release Chardonnay 2016 ($15). A good middle-of-the-road Aussie chardonnay with pleasing apple and mellow spice flavors and a firm finish.
Joseph Drouhin Mâcon-Villages 2016 ($15). Very fresh, very zesty, with lots of green, vegetal flavors and a crisp finish.
Pascal Granger La Jacarde Beaujolais Villages Blanc 2015 ($17). A good white for the cocktail hour — pleasant and floral with dried honey flavors.
Louis Jadot Chablis 2016 ($25). Medium-bodied with rounded apple flavors, some spiciness, and a mineral underlay.
Pfendler Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2015 ($38). Quite nice and quite assertive (in a good way), with tart apple flavors and lots of metallic-like minerality.
Château La Mascaronne Fazioli Côtes de Provence 2015 ($18). Dark and fruit-forward, with some caramel barrel notes and a dollop of black olive.
Château Paradis Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rouge 2012 ($18). Very good, with rich cherry fruit and a savory finish.
Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Légende Médoc 2015 ($21). A food-only wine, not a sipper — an everyday Bordeaux that is a throwback to the 1970s, with light cherry flavor, some green notes, crisp finish.
Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot 2014 ($21). Although not a complex wine, this one would profit from decanting an hour or two in advance. Rich fruit with some dried herbs and spices to balance.
Anne Sophie Dubois L’Alchimiste Fleurie 2015 ($25). Classic fresh gamay flavors — fruity but not overblown.
Jean Foillard Côte de Py Morgon 2015 ($35). Not your average Beaujolais, this is a gamey, spicy red from one of the area’s best cru vineyards, with hints of what the French call garrigue (which is the word for the floral and herbaceous scrub on the Mediterranean coast).
Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Légende Pauillac 2014 ($36). A basic Bordeaux from a top appellation that ticks all the proper boxes: lean and leathery, showing blackberry flavor, lightly tannic.
Joseph Drouhin Côte de Beaune 2015 ($36). Nicely structured; a fairly big pinot noir with full, ripe fruit and good acidity for balance.
Aria di Caiarossa Rosso di Toscana 2013 ($40). A blend of syrah and alicante with Bordeaux varieties, it has lovely aromas and flavors moderated by a gamey finish and lean tannins.
Mullan Road Cellars Columbia Valley Red Blend 2015 ($44). A warm but firm wine, very granular, with a plummy taste and a finish suggesting a wine brownie.
Pfendler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015 ($45). A smooth yet aggressive pinot, very fruit-forward, with cherry and cola flavors — big in the mouth but with good finishing acidity.
Kenwood “Artist Series” Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($58). Very nice integration of fruit and wood with fresh, lightly tart blackberry flavor. It lingers on the palate.
Caiarossa Toscana 2013 ($59). A classic Super Tuscan — a delicious mix of red and dark fruits with lean and leathery structure and well-integrated barrel notes.
Hunt & Ryde “Trophy” Rockpile Red Wine 2014 ($75). Chef Guy Fieri rode out of the kitchen to cook up this Sonoma County Bordeaux blend, with its dark, bold fruitiness and a powdery, perfumed touch in the finish. This is a wine that half will love, and half will not.
Mi Sueño Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($75). Big, intense, and complex, with rich, dark fruits and some figgy flavors.
Ackerman Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 ($85). The Coombsville appellation — just outside the city of Napa to the southeast — is now beginning to make a name for itself, and this big and burly cabernet will add to that reputation. It has lovely, exotic purple fruits but also a lot of intriguing savory characteristics. You’ll finish the bottle with this one.
Wines for review were provided by their producers or importers at no cost to the writer.