France is renowned for producing some of the best wines in the world and is home to prestigious winemaking regions—everyone easily recognizes Champagne, Burgundy, and Bordeaux and the sense of clout that comes with those names. Not to mention, many varieties that first rose to prominence in France (such Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay) have now become “international varieties” because of their popularity. Many of France’s winemaking practices and styles have also been adopted around the world for the quality wines that are produced. These suggestions of 12 French Wines to Try Before You Die are just one idea of the perfect case of French wine, encompassing many varieties, regions, and price points.

Château Rayas


Image via Ginsberg+Chan

Year: 1990; 1995; 2005
Price: $800
Occasion: Great day in the market; Dinner with Aunty on Lyford

Where virtually all wines of the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape are blends, Château Rayas goes against the grain and makes a 100 percent Grenache that can be opulent with pronounced flavors of licorice and lavender.

Domaine Leroy Musigny


Year: 1999; 2003; 2005 (but really any would do)

Price: $4,500
Occasion: You accidentally discovered precious gems in your already highly profitable gold mine while simultaneously curing cancer

Coche-Dury is best known for its white wines, but Domaine Leroy is best known for red. The Grand Cru vineyard of Musigny is one of the best plots for Pinot Noir in all of Burgundy, and this wine is liquid power and finesse in a bottle. If you do ever come across one, well…you get the picture.

Domaine Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne

Image via Winehog

Year: 2004; 2005
Price: $2,700, give or take a few dollars
Occasion: You struck oil!

While I did single out the Corton-Charlemagne, any wine by Domaine Coche-Dury is a pure treat. Best known for its world class Chardonnays, all the wines display a level of purity and honesty that is becoming less and less common today.



Image via Snooth

Year: 1999; 2000; 2005
Price: $100
Occasion: Dinner at Le Bernardin or equivalent foodie destination

Château-Grillet is an appelation unto itself. Producing just one wine from the Viognier grape with notes of honey and apricot, a bottle can be challenging to come by because of its small production.

Alphonse Mellot Sancerre Rouge Génération XIX


Year: 2003; 2009
Price: $85-plus
Occasion: Milestone birthday

Sancerre is probably the most famous Sauvignon Blanc appellation in the world, but the region also produces red wine. Red Sancerre is always 100 percent Pinot Noir, and Génération XIX has all of the depth and complexity you’d expect from world-class Burgundy.

Château Simone Palette Rouge


Image via Snooth

Year: 1999
Price: $48+
Occasion: A quiet dinner with those in the know

This Grenache/Mourvedre blend is one of the most unique wines in all of France, with deeply nuanced fruit, earth, and spice flavors unlike anything else being produced today. Plus, the entire Palette appellation consists of just one winery, Château Simone.

Domaine Tempier Bandol Cuvee La Migoua


Image via Cellar

Year: 2009; 2010
Price: $55
Occasion: Hostess gift

The Mourvedre based wines of Domaine Tempier are known for their structure and longevity. Fun fact: Though established since Louis XV, the vineyards were given to an aspiring winemaker as a wedding gift, who in turn elevated Bandol wines to their acclaimed status.

Olga Raffault Chinon “Les Picasses”


Image via Hermitage Wines

Year: 1993
Price: $50
Occasion: Digging into the new Amis

Often overshadowed by well-known Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc can yield impressive results when planted in the right spot and in the hands of the right winemaker. Olga Raffault has both on its side when it comes to producing this consistently delicious wine.

Château Léoville-Las Cases


Image via Evinité

Year: 1996; 2000; 2005; 2009
Price: $200-plus
Occasion: A good meal with friends that just happens

With so much high-quality Bordeaux on the market, the Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines of Léoville-Las Cases have always been standouts for me. There’s an opulence and elegance to these wines that are indicative of what Bordeaux should be.

Albert Boxler Riesling Grand Cru “Sommerberg “ Vendange Tardive


Image via David Strange

Year: 2005; 2007; 2009
Price: $60-plus
Occasion: Picnic in the Maritime Alps

In my opinion, Albert Boxler produces the finest wines in Alsace, possibly some of the finest wines in the world. This was a tough decision because Boxler’s other Grand Cru “Brand” is also a phenomenal wine, but Sommerberg produces wines of such purity and intensity that I had to pick this one for my dream case.

Rene Rostaing Côte-Rôtie “Côte Blonde”


Image via Ginsberg+Chan

Year: 1988; 1990; 1991; 1999; 2000; 2001
Price: $135-plus
Occasion: A quiet dinner in the library

I love Syrah from the Northern Rhone, and Rostaing’s line finds a way to stay true to tradition while incorporating some modern flair. Accessible yet ageable with dark fruit, herbs, and spices, I’ve never had a bottle that I didn’t enjoy.

Jacques Selosse Substance


Year: NV
Price: $300
Occasion: Accepted marriage proposal/divorce

Many great Champagnes are on the market, but Jacques Selosse “Substance” is in its own class. Made with a mixture of aged and young wine, the resulting Champagne is fresh yet complex.