January 2009                               


Wines of the month - Paul DeRose

French Whites under $20

As I look forward to 2009, while considering what I’ve learned from 2008, I have come up with a variety of New Year’s resolutions. There are the usual one’s, such as “I need to exercise more, eat healthier and be a wiser father and husband”, but in regards to wine there is one resolution I intend to keep, “Buy more French whites under $20 (and even some under $10)”. When one considers the record-breaking, high prices of French reds, particularly the famous ones (and even the less expensive ones are not among my first choices in “go to” red wines), it seems ironic that I can still recommend inexpensive French whites with conviction. Those to which I refer are, of course, not the most famous of French whites, such as white Burgundy, Sauternes or Champagne, but are a more modest group that combine an impressive level of diversity, character and overall quality that keeps me coming back for more, even in a time when value is most key.

I won’t name all the French wine regions where reasonably priced whites reside (we might be here awhile), but I will mention a few. I could delve into Macon for bargain white Burgundy/Chardonnay, white Rhones as alternatives to Chardonnay or sweet whites of the Jurançon as tasty dessert wines, but instead will focus here on the more prolific, easy-to-find treasure troves of the Loire and Alsace regions. The former produces everything from the dry whites of Touraine, Reuilly, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume (Sauvignon Blanc), Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne) and Savennieres (Chenin Blanc), to semi-sweet and sweet whites from Vouvray, Quart de Chaume and Coteaux du Layon (Chenin Blanc). Similarly, Alsace also produces a variety of high quality, reasonably priced whites made from Riesling and Gewurztraminer, as well as Pinot Gris (French for Pinot Grigio) and Pinot Blanc (light and refreshing).

Here are a few recommendations available in the DC metro area, but I encourage you to explore for yourself.


Corbillieres Touraine (Sauvignon Blanc) $ 12 *

M. Touton Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) $ 13 *

Chereau Carre Muscadet Château de Chasseloir $ 14 *

Baumard Savenièrres (Chenin Blanc)  $ 19


Hugel Gentil (blend) $ 11 *

Louis Sipp Pinot Blanc $ 13 *

Trimbach Riesling or Gewurztraminer $ 15 *

* indicates available in Montgomery County