15 Affordable White Wines From France That Should Be in Your Collection
France may be home to some of the most prestigious, pricey white wines in the world, but it's also a fantastic source for bottles that seriously over-deliver for the money. With spring set to arrive, this is the perfect time of year to reconsider the astounding value that can be found there.
I've tried to focus on somewhat less familiar names here, but that doesn't mean that there aren't countless other worthy options that should absolutely be in regular rotation in your home. The E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc, for example, is a charming, effusive winner vintage after vintage—and can be found for well under $20. Others, like the honeysuckle-, pineapple-, and chamomile-kissed Souleil Vin de Bonté Le Blanc 2020 Vin de France, are far less widely distributed (it's available at Convive Wines) yet still worth space on the wine rack. Muscadet, too, is a reliably wonderful wine that tends to over-deliver.
The following 15 French white wines, listed alphabetically, represent not just the phenomenal value to be found for less than $25, but also the range of styles, expressions, and grape varieties that France is capable of excelling with.
What an appealing nose here, with oyster shells, seashore air, and lemon pith before a bright, lively palate shimmering with white melons, yellow apples, lemon pith, and fresh-cut herbs like tarragon and shiso, all anchored by mineral and lifted with subtle notes of flowers and acidity. This is a lot of wine for the money, and proof that good Burgundy doesn't have to cost a fortune.
This blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Sauvignon Gris, 20% Muscadelle, and 10% Semillon is lifted with orange and lemon blossoms, honeysuckle, and white figs that all precede a palate of lemon pith, flowers, nectarines, white peaches, honeydew pith and a touch of flesh, the suggestion of papaya and fennel bulb. Fresh-cut herbs linger in the background throughout.
This méthode traditionelle sparkler from the Loire Valley is crafted entirely from Chenin Blanc (my bottle was disgorged June 11, 2021), and finds a nice aromatic balance between forest floor, toasted multi-grain bread, and autumn orchard fruit. These set the stage for a palate of bright acidity that cuts through rich flavors of mashed apricots, Asian pears, and raw almonds.
45% Grenache Blanc, with the rest of the blend comprised of Roussanne, Clairette, Viognier, and Bourboulenc, this is rich and propulsive at the same time, with flavors of fennel bulb, citrus pith, cantaloupe, yellow plum, honeysuckle, and sweet spice.
Taut and savory, with a distinct chalk-like minerality to the lemon pith and hard pear notes that ring through the vivid finish, which is anchored by a quiet saltiness and subtly lifted as well.
This Demeter Certified Biodynamic wine is grown approximately 450 meters above sea level in the Pyrenees foothills, and rises from the glass with pan-toasted almonds, gently grilled apricots and other stone fruit, and then a muscular, elegant palate that carries flavors of mashed Seckel pears, white peaches, toasty vanilla, and a finish lifted with the subtle perfume of chamomile.
Bright and appealingly herbal aromas lead the way to a silk-textured palate flecked with lemon oils and pith, hard autumn orchard fruit, and saline minerality. A final grace note of white licorice lends the finish a fascinating dimension. This is a lot of wine for well under $20.
Taut and energetic, this vibrant white is kissed with honeysuckle and apricot as well as the suggestion of lemon blossoms, all finishing with ripe mid-summer stone fruit and gentle spice.
Linear and mineral aromas follow through to the palate, which is taut with lemon-lime flavors and resolves with a slate-like minerality that shimmers through the mouthwatering finish.
Crafted from equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier, this is overtly friendly with fresh mango and passion fruit alongside beeswax and honey-brushed nectarines that linger through the springtime-flower-lifted finish. Also from Château de Saint-Cosme is the Domaine de Saint-Cosme "Les Deux Albion" 2019 ($25) from the Principauté d'Orange in the Vaucluse. This is more akin to the great, classic whites of the Rhône Valley with its dense, almost waxy or lactic aromas of mashed almonds and white licorice preceding a palate of energy and weight in equal measure, with cooked honey, fennel bulb, ripe apricots, white peaches, Asian pears, and a dusting of baking spices.
This excellent blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Viognier has all of the juxtaposed depth and lift you'd expect, with caramelized apricots and white peaches, honeycomb, orange blossoms, and salinity and toastiness pulsing beneath it all.
Effusive and friendly, with caramel-drizzled green apples, honey-almond cookies, and a finish flecked with fresh-picked herbs, which ends it all on a more savory note.
Crafted entirely from Colombard, this is spicy and vibrant with a pure bolt of lemon-lime that makes the mouth water and calls out for ceviche, preferably enjoyed in the sunshine. A hint of shiso leaf on the finish is a lovely counterpoint to the vivid acidity.
This is energetic yet dense, with yellow apples, mashed pears, white nectarines, cinnamon, allspice, and white licorice. Well-balanced and beautifully crafted.
Savory and almost smoky, with yellow apples, grilled stone fruit, and sage, as well as a touch of honey, fennel seed, and dried white-blossomed flowers, all carried on a nicely dense yet vivid texture.