Best French Red Wines

The Amazing World of French Red Wines

When I heard the idea of a Slayer wine, I tasted the wines they suggested for us. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first before I tasted it, but once I tried it, I thought, ‘You know what? This is actually really good. A really fruity and round type of flavor for a red wine.’ It’s very flavorful and tasted awesome! (Tom Araya).

French and Italian wines are made from different types of grapes. France primarily uses varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah; while Italians make use of Barbera, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio, etc. One can also purchase Italian wines produced from a blend of French and Italian grapes. To put things into perspective, some wines from Super Tuscans are obtained from Sangiovese grape mixed Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, which results in a very delicious and somewhat expensive foreign Italian wine.

Perhaps, Maury and Banyuls are the two most popular French sweet red wines.

  • Maury is a designation meant for fortified wine available in Southern France’s Roussillon region. Similar to port, Maury also undergoes the fortification process at the time of fermentation, eliminating yeasts and leaving loads of sugar. The wine should be obtained from (minimum) 75% Grenache, along with Syrah. Macabeau, Muscat, and numerous other regional varieties are allowed. It is a perfect accompaniment for any chocolate-based dessert.
  • Similar to Maury, Banyuls is also a fortified French wine that too can be procured from the Roussillon region. While Maury happens to be somewhat insular, Banyuls can be obtained from the saline turquoise coastlines along the Mediterranean. Just like Maury and port, Banyuls is too fortified in the midst of the fermentation cycle, although a minimum of ten months is required for aging. Alcohol contents tend to be in the lower range in case of Banyuls (approximately 16%) when compared to port (about 20%). It can be served with dark chocolate.

Under $100

1. 2010 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sori Ginestra is a french red wine under 100 US dollars. This old spirit is kept in oak barrels for about a year before it is shifted to more massive casks for one more year. It is a robust, thick, and full-bodied wine with prominent notes of menthol, freshly cut pine, and tobacco accompanied by a mix of Italian spices and herbs; giving it an extraordinary depth and highly concentrated aristocracy.

2. 2010 Jaboulet Domaine de Terre Ferme Chateauneuf du Pape ($95) is a pretty sublime and heady wine that is characterized by Mediterranean flavors. The sea breeze can be instantly felt by the taste buds. The body is flamboyant and rich with intense notes of black cherry, fig, and currant. The bottling is complicated, yet minimalistic and neat. It has got an ideal mix of sweet and sour profiles that makes it a must-try for any wine connoisseur.

Under $50

3. 2012 Herman Story Syrah Nuts and Bolts is a french red wine under 50 US dollars. It is entirely decadent and full-bodied and comes with flavors of honeysuckle, bread pudding, black raspberry and finish of roasted red chile pepper. It is a phenomenally sophisticated wine and is a perfect companion for a good bedside book with some Miles Davis playing in the background.

4. 2011 The Hilt Pinot Noir Vanguard ($45) is pretty masculine with blasts of ripe fruits, sweet tobacco, and white pepper. It is characterized by a silky, full-mouthed sensation, and is ideal for cigar lovers. It is reasonably earthy and has the perfect balance of sourness. It is a marvelous wine, though decanting will prove to be beneficial.

5. 2011 Beringer Chardonnay Reserve ($40) is creamy and rich and has got an incredible spicy overtone accompanied by notes of citrus zest, apple pie, and honeysuckle. It is crisp and elegantly dry with a neat finish and just a faint note of pear.

6. 2010 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee ($40) is prepared from 74% Pinot Noir and 26% Chardonnay. It is intricate and delicate with fruity blasts of peach, blood orange, and raspberry. It is sour and unforgettable with an extended finish that is nice and lingering.

7. 2001 Faustino I Gran Reserva ($39) is sophisticated and elegant, with a profile that is prominently feminine and is characterized by butter-like oak and silky tannins blended with an ideal mix of leather and spice. The finish happens to be very Earth-like and mineral accompanied by notes of ripe raspberries.

Under $20

1. Beringer Knights Valley is a french red wine under 20 US dollars. It is full-bodied and fruity, still refined and also consumed by people who typically do not love Cabernets.

2. 2010 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva ($20) is a dimensional, sophisticated, and full-bodied Chianti. It is characterized by intense notes of spice, black cherry, tobacco and leather accompanied by overpowering tannins and dried berries. It goes pretty well with red meats.

3. 2013 Ritual Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir ($20) is a phenomenally silky pinot noir with blasts of hazelnuts and strawberry slices and ideally accompanied by undertones of limoncello. It is smoky and full-bodied along with bites of spices and a durable, lingering finish.

4. La Marca Prosecco ($17) is a traditional wine sporting the color of straw and is characterized by textured and multi-dimensional bubbles. The taste buds can instantly feel the hints of vanilla and fresh citrus. It is crisp and clean and has a finish enriched with notes of green apple, grapefruit, and lemon. It is a wonderfully light and fresh wine.

5. 2013 Antucura Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) is elegant and sophisticated. It is medium-bodied accompanied by notes of lavender, dried tobacco, coarse black pepper, and purple violets. The tannins are unmistakeably silky, and the finish is lingering and extended and is blessed with a hint of spice.