When I first started learning about French wines, I was told that southern French wines outside Bordeaux are not bought much, because American shoppers have trouble grasping what these wines are. The grape is rarely put on the label, so you pretty much need to know what the region grows. I'm here to let you know about some of these wines. They are all affordable.
Vin de Savoie, St Jean de la Porte France, 2011 - Ever heard of the Mondeuse Noir grape? It grows in Savoy France, and is often blended with other grapes to make wine. The joy of this wine is that it is 100% Mondeuse Noir. Light-bodied with lots of delicate flavor, this wine is a treat. Easy drinking for red wine lovers who want it by itself, with finger food, or with a veal dish. Only $13 a bottle!
Millegrand, Minervois France, 2009 - Like many southern French wines, wines from this area are often blends. This wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Mourvedre. With grapes that deliver so much flavor, you might expect a big wine. This wine, however, does not sucker-punch you. Instead you get the Syrah spice up front, and then have a softer finish. As many "wine geeks" like to point out, wines like this go with more foods because of the blend. Different foods will bring out flavors from different grapes in the wine. Best of all, it is also affordable.
Georges 2010, Cotes du Roussillon, France - Another blended wine, this one has consistently powerful flavor of dark red fruits, fig, from and spice. A stronger wine than Millegrand, it is also sturdier. This wine sells quickly, because it is less than $15, but doesn't taste cheap. It is definitely a good buy. The wine maker says that he uses grapes from vines that are 60-80 years old that are hand-picked at the Pyrenees foot hills near the Spanish border.
Mas de Bayle, Gres de Montpellier, France 2007 - If you hear people refer to "big grapes", they're not referring to the size of the fruit, but the size of the flavor. This wine is made of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. There is not a timid-flavored grape in this wine. From start to finish the flavor is a blend of cooked fruits (not sugary fresh fruit). This wine could sustain lamb or steak, and has more complexity than many wines made from one grape. My favorite of the bunch, this is a wine to enjoy as the weather gets colder.