Southern France's Wineries to Watch
For all of us in Australia who know and love Shiraz and are hesitant to step outside the box, southern France is a great gateway to the rest of the wine world. We can sample similar wines to our well-loved GSM (Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre) blends and Shiraz while seeing how these grapes are expressed in far-flung regions.
But it doesn't stop there. We can get to know the classics with some of Bordeaux's best and brightest Cabernet and Merlot, amazing Malbec from a lesser-known French wine region, and sip on some of the refreshing white wines that have been creating a buzz in recent years.
Looking for a few suggestions? We have you covered.
Picpoul is having a major moment in the limelight. Fantastically refreshing and light, this citrusy, mineral-driven white wine is the picnic goer's dream. Crisp and dry, it's a brilliant match for seafood. Love oysters, but not up for bubbly? Picpoul is perfect and La Viste, located along the Mediterranean coast in the Languedoc, makes stellar versions of this exquisite wine. Drink these wines while they're young and fresh, preferably when the sun is shining.
If you just can't get enough of rich, brooding reds, discovering Cahors is a revelation. As France's only outpost for Malbec wine, fans of the variety need to become familiar with Cahors – the sooner the better. And there's no better place to start than with Château Pineraie. The estate has been in the Burc family since the 1400s, with wine production dating to 1838. In short, they are masters of their craft and create award-winning wines that are full of generous fruit flavour. While some Cahors wines can border on rustic, Château Pineraie is all polish and elegance (thanks to the addition of a little Merlot in their blends). At the same time, they don't shy away from the classic bold aromas and flavours inherent to Malbec.
Domaine de Cristia
With Mediterranean influences warming the entire region, the Rhône Valley and the Southern Rhône especially can get pretty warm. Finding a winery which offers that perfect harmony between elegance and finesse and ripe fruit is particularly satisfying. Enter Domaine de Cristia. This certified organic winery makes wonderfully fresh wines, which includes a whole range of hit after hit to fit every budget. Cheap and cheerful? They do a tasty Vin de Pays level wine, but if you want to splash out and make an impression, they produce a phenomenal Châteauneuf-du-Pape. For that sweet spot in the middle, we're fans of Domaine de Cristia's Côtes de Rhône rouge. Although they do have some Syrah and a smidgen of Mourvedre plantings, the star of Domaine de Cristia is Grenache and it's Grenache that shines in this delectable Côtes de Rhône. Planning a barbecue this weekend? You've just found the perfect crowd-pleasing wine to serve.
Château de Saint Cosme
Located right in the heart of Gigondas, Château de Saint Cosme dates back to the 15th century. It's family owned and operated – for 14 generations! As this is the Rhône, they specialise in reds and offer a variety of wines in their line up. Single vineyards, old vines, great value, and high end. They also make some fabulous white wines and dabble in winemaking up in the Northern Rhône as well. This is another must-try winery if you're an Aussie GSM fanatic who wants to try something similar but is keen to shake things up a little bit.
Dourthe is an impressive tour de force in Bordeaux. In over a century and a half, Dourthe has become one of the most widely successful wine producers in the region. In addition to their own vineyard holdings, they manage several other estates, including a few of Bordeaux's prestigious grand cru classés. Dourthe established the Beau Mayne brand in the late 1970s and since then, they've made a name for this line as an accessible, easy-drinking way to enjoy quality red and white Bordeaux. There's a real emphasis on ripeness and fresh flavours, so if you're in the mood for something you can enjoy as soon as possible, Dourthe will take very good care of you and your taste buds.
Obviously, the southern half of France covers a multitude of regions, styles, and wineries. Do yourself a favour and start exploring them today!