With summer over and autumn festivals on the horizon consider sipping your way through France this fall.
Champagne’s limestone-filled soils are meticulously managed by families who have worked the same vineyards for generations, creating elevated wines with refined elegance, texture and balance. From large production houses, like Moet &Chandon ($50) and Veuve Cliquot ($50), to family-owned operations, like Henroit ($80) and Duval-Leroy ($60), Champagne is a constant for celebrations and special occasions.
France’s other traditional method sparkler, Cremant, can often deliver just as much finesse, with attractive pricing. From Alsace, Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé ($25) melds wild strawberry with brioche and sweet cream. From southern Languedoc, Faire le Fete Cremant de Limoux ($22), highlights juicy orchard fruit, fresh citrus and toasted vanilla.
Loire Valley’s Sancerre and Vouvray often get the press, but if you follow the Loire River west to the Atlantic coast, you arrive in the land of mineral intense, salty, sunshine filled Muscadet of Melon-de-Bourgogne white wines. Pierre Henri Muscadet Sevre-Et-Maine ($18) is crisp and clean, the ideal pairing with briny oysters or sushi.
Alsace produces some of the most exceptional riesling in the world from Cru and Grand Cru vineyards. Domaines Schlumberger Grand Cru Saering Riesling ($35) melds stone-filled minerality with layers of lemon zest and chamomile.
For the perfect pairing with your favorite spicy Thai dishes, try a highly floral and ginger spiced Domaine Albert Boxler Reserve Gewurztraminer ($60), also from Alsace. With sweet perfume aromas, the wine is intense but plays beautifully with highly spiced Asian cuisines.
Burgundy’s tantalizing chardonnay wines deliver from racy, steely Chablis to rich, well-rounded Meursault, Bourgogne white wines shine throughout the region. Consistently delicious, lean and dry, William-Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux ($27) layers green apple, citrus and crushed stone.
For pinot noir fans, Premier Cru and Grand Cru Burgundy Cote d’Or vineyards shine with Old World charm balancing woodsy mushroom and forest-floor characteristics with briary fruit and spice. Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Chambolle-Musigny ($80) reveals blackberry and cherry melding harmoniously with truffle and dried herbs. Tart cherry and pomegranate filled Remoissenet-Pere-et-Fils Bourgogne Rouge ($40) is luscious with subtle tannin ending with a smooth, lingering finish.
Black plum and blackberry filled merlot dominates the blend of Bordeaux’s Right Bank wines. Refined Clos Cantenac Saint Emilion Grand Cru ($100) with graphite, pepper and black plum is ideal for pairing with hearty beef and lamb dishes. Chateau du Courlat Lussac-Saint Emilion ($30) is a precise, yet easy wine ready to be enjoyed any time of day. Domaines Barons de Rothschild Legende Saint Emilion ($45) is expressive and polished with crushed blackberry, cedar and sage.