White wines of France are not, probably, the first- to come to mind when you think of our neighbor country. The red wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy or Rhône are top rated in the guides and those who carry the greatest fame, but if we look at white wines you will notice that French white wines have enough quality and diversity to make out of France one of the countries with the best white wines in the world.
We will approach to some types of French white wines which are recognized worldwide:
- Sauternes: Sauternes wines are the more international and sweet French white wines. They are usually made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes affected by botrytis, that is, slightly past by the action of the fungus Botrytis cinerea, which causes a higher concentration of sugar . Natural conditions of the area are causing the fungus to develop properly and affect the vineyards, so keeping these conditions is essential for growers. The awesome Sauternes can reach expectacular prices in some auctions. The result is a wine with aromas of caramel, honey and nuts, and the perfect accompaniment to chocolate desserts, strong cheeses, foie gras and, by contrast, acidic red fruits like strawberries or raspberries. In Sauternes, Barsac is an area with an own name where these type of wines are - truly spectacular.
- Chablis: Chablis wines are immediately associated with the Chardonnay grape, but you can also use the Sauvignon Blanc. They are produced in the area with the same name in Burgundy, and they are dry and extremely fragrant wines. The cold is crucial to ripen slowly the Chardonnay, producing - aromas typical of this variety, together with the unique characteristics of the soil makes this French white wine to be so special. In fact, the name does not include a large area, and each "pago" is considered meter by meter to be accepted, and it is meticulously classified Grand Crus -, Premier Cru, ... The grapes are grown and vinified in those pagos and usually sold afterwards to "Négociants" in charge of assembling and nurture different wines and then selling them for a higher price That is why it is so difficult to distinguish the best Chablis, because they depend heavily on thee acquired grapes each year. Finally it should be noted the controversy raised in the area about the use of winemaking: some processors make their wines in stainless steel tanks, because they say they have the best Chardonnay in the world and it has to be expressed as it is, while others use oak barrels - for a more complex wine, arguing that if the white grape Chardonnay is thr best to be aged in barrels - is their obligation to make the best match. There are great Chablis wines processed one way or another.
- Alsace: If Chablis dominates , Sauternes the Semillon, Alsace in the reign of Gewürztraminer and Riesling, which create great wines here, with aromas of citrus (orange peel, grapefruit, lemon, mixed with those,...) white bone fruit (peach, apricot,...), a great combination. They are also so successful here the late harvest wines, combining the sweetness of the wine with the slightly acidity of these varieties.
And yet we leave a lot of white wines and interesting areas such as: Champagne, Cognac and Calvados, where white grape are grown with very different purposes to the traditional, Monbazillac with fantastic sweet wines could compete with, Sauternes or Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône, do not forget the large areas like Burgundy Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet,...
Want to try French white wines? Then let us recommend a few:
- J. Moreau - Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon 2008: J. Moreau is one of the most important wineries in Chablis, which allows it to sell some of these wines at a price more than interesting.
- Bestheim Gewurztraminer Reserve 2009: You have so many flavors dancing in the glass you will not know how to define it. Definitely a great wine.
- Château Haut Bommes 2003: It's hard to find, but there also exist a Sauternes to an affordable price. The 2003 Haut Bommes, has aromas of caramel and leaves an aftertaste of nuts. Of course, we would reccomend you to keep it storaged for a couple of years to reach its splendor.
Have you tried white French wines? What is your favorite?