Vintage - 2008, Bordeaux, Alsa...
Maritime Bordeaux in the west of France is a large producer of quality wines. Although saying that there's a large gap between the top few who produce ultra-premium wines with hefty price tags (Lafite, Margaux, Y'Quem, Petrus….) and the rest of the field.
The Left Bank with its gravelly composition of soils is more suited to Cabernet Sauvignon while the Right Bank is made up more of clay and this is where Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominate (as they are earlier ripens and don't mind getting their feet wet). In the middle, the Entre Du Meurs provides a slew of whites and reds made for early drinking.
On the right bank outside of St Emilion and Pomerol, there are a lot of well-priced merlots made that are more for early consumption. These come from the satellite Bordeaux regions.
The English built up a thirst for the better Bordeaux reds which they have coined 'clarets'. These are often tucked away for a while in their cellars to age and drunk with a few years under their belts. But not all Bordeaux is built for aging, so choose wisely.
For whites, there are the crisp and easily quaffed whites from Entre De Meurs, or the more ambitious oak-aged Semillion Sauvignon blends from Pessac Legonan. The queen of dessert wines, Sauternes can also call Bordeaux home. French oak maturation is a common thread amongst the elite reds, whites and sweet wines.
White:Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot
Some of the most highly rated recent vintages are 2005, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2018.
Montrose, Pichon Lalande, Poitevin, D'Yquem, Coutet,
AlsaceNestled behind the Vosges Mountains the Alsace region is one of France's driest and a lovely hotbed for organic and biodynamic viticulture on volcanic soils. History has seen it change hands between Germany and France many times which shows up in the strong Germanic influence in food, architecture and grapes.
Red or White? White wines reign supreme here. Usually dry and savoury, though some can be made in an off-dry style. This is a clear cut region to understand as they usually put the grape variety on the label. There are also two sweeter styles; late picked, vendange tardive and the botrytis infected dessert wine, selections de grains nobles.
Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, Gewuztraminer
There's a lovely minerality thread in these wines due to their volcanic soil origins. Smokey wafts and exotic fruits are on full display in youth. Over time they develop a honeyed richness. Some wines may have a richer mid-palate and can be off-dry in style.
Marcel Deiss, Zind-Humbrecht, Domaine Ostertag, Paul Blank