France maintains its position as the second-largest producer of wine in the world. It notched up the highest ever export values in 2018 despite a reduction in volume. French wines will undoubtedly continue to top wine lists this year. Wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy will also likely fetch record prices at auction. But along with the well known labels, experts believe that this year will have some surprises as wine connoisseurs move beyond the beaten trail. Read on to discover which French wines to drink in 2019.
Burgundy perennial favourite
When it comes to the king of French wines, Burgundy undoubtedly vies for the crown with Bordeaux. This year, demand in Burgundy wines will remain high – Sotheby’s Wine reported big interest last year and expects the trend to continue in 2019. That said, don’t restrict your Burgundy wine tasting to reds – make 2019 the year of the Burgundy whites too.
Did you know?
Food friendly is the new watchword for French wines in 2019. Consumers are increasingly looking for wines that pair with a wide variety of cuisine including spicy Asian dishes.
Shift in Bordeaux
This wine region’s most famous labels will continue to attract the highest bids at auction and there’s no doubt that Bordeaux will remain a top pick for all lovers of fine vin. However, experts are predicting a move away from the traditional high-tannin, rich, oaky wines that form the backbone of Bordeaux wine tradition. 2019 will be the year for fruitier, fresher reds.
Wine critic Robert Parker recommends broadening your horizons in your search of Bordeaux wine too. Go to “the other side of the river”, he says, and head to Saint-Émilion, a picture postcard medieval village that also comes with UNESCO World Heritage status. Parker highlights the Château Angélus wines that are “truly fabulous” but claims that any Saint-Émilion wine with a decent vintage will make you “pretty happy”.
Famed as the first wine of the season, Beaujolais hasn’t always had a good press. However, experts claim that the tables are changing and 2019 could well turn out to be the year of Beaujolais.
“What was once considered a bit of a backwater is now heralded as producing some impressive yet accessible wines,” says Will Heslop from Berry Bros. & Rudd. The improvement in quality plus the wine’s freshness makes Beaujolais ideal for pairing with Asian cuisine.
Did you know?
Sustainability in wine production is also right on trend among consumers for French wine in 2019. Vineyards are increasingly eco-friendly with organic production on the rise and more and more biodynamic farming methods.
Look to the Rhône
The Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley in English) ranks as one of the largest wine producers in France. Red wines make up around 90% of all Rhône wines, which are best enjoyed within three to five years of production. Not ideal for cellaring for the grandchildren but bang on trend for 2019’s penchant for young, fresh wines.
The area had two good vintages in 2015 (released on the market at the end of 2017) and in 2016 (just appearing now). Experts recommend buying a bottle (or several) of these vintage Côtes du Rhône reds in 2019, reputedly excellent for pairing with sushi.
This region is also home to wine label classics such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage, also good buys for 2019. But this year it’s also safe to stray slightly off the beaten Rhone Valley track. Some of the area’s smaller vineyards with lesser known labels such as Clos des Papes and Usseglio are making “extraordinary wines right now”, according to Parker.
Drink rosé in 2019
Rosés fit the bill of the fashion for fresher, fruitier wines – few picnics and al fresco suppers were without a bottle during 2018. The trend looks set to continue this year with French rosés top of the must-have summer wine lists. Provence is, of course, king of French rosé wines so look for the best here in 2019.
Not content with ‘just’ a bottle, rosé lovers now favour magnums of the pink wine and many Provence vineyards produce this larger format. Top rosé picks for 2019 include the pale rosé made from the single grape Versant Grenache – seek this one out in Pays d’Oc. Then there’s the decidedly modern rosé produced from the Piquepoul Noir grape, one of the lesser known varieties in France.
Try the Vins de France
Along with the AOC and AOP (Appellation d’Origine Controllée/Protegée) and IGP (Indication Géographique Protegée) denomination, French wines also come under a third category. Vins de France, formed a decade ago, brings together wines by their grape rather than their terroir.
This lesser-known label is making something of a name for itself on the international wine scene and in 2018 was the only export market to grow. Experts predict more of the same for 2019 as more and more consumers discover the “other denomination”.
Don’t expect big, bold French wines among the Vins de France, but do be prepared for some pleasant surprises. Most are very drinkable and just as importantly, all wallet-friendly. The average price for a bottle of this type of French wine comes in at around €10.
In summary: 6 French wines to drink in 2019
- White Burgundy like Montrachet or splash out on Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at Sotheby’s this autumn
- Bordeaux wines such as Château Angélus and 2005 vintages
- Beaujolais Nouveau come November 2019
- Côtes du Rhône 2015 and 2016 vintages
- Rosé: Versant Grenache and Piquepoul Noir
Did you know?
Our luxury hotel barges cruise the rivers and canals of all the best known wine regions in France. A stay on board gives you the chance to discover stunning riverscapes, towns and villages as well as haute cuisine perfectly paired with French wine.
Why not kick back and relax as you enjoy the best of France including some of the country’s best wines for 2019? Choose your destination.
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