Created just over a decade ago, the Vin de France designation threw out the rule book for what French wine could be. There are a variety of reasons a wine can be labeled as such, and none of them have to do with quality.
The only requirement for a Vin de France wine is that it must be made from grapes grown in France. Beyond that, winemakers are free to blend grapes from multiple regions if they so choose, meaning they are not restricted by the location-based Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) or Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) systems. Or, they can experiment with growing varieties not permitted within a particular appellation. This freedom from French wine tradition has led to a wealth of creative, boundary-pushing wines.
Vin de France wines are often a great entry point for new wine drinkers and those looking to explore what France has to offer. Many of the most popular international varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, find their spiritual homes in France. These and many more familiar varieties are produced under the Vin de France classification and often come at accessible price points.
Are you curious about the wines of Burgundy but often feel priced out? A number of Burgundian producers, like Simonnet-Febvre and Bouchard Aîné & Fils, produce Vin de France-labeled wines that serve as entry points to their more terroir-driven selections. They are sneak peaks into the producers’ higher-end wines, all without committing to the matching price tags.
To the average wine drinker, the French AOC laws and labeling requirements often seem intimidating. Many are left wondering what grapes are even in the bottle. Thankfully, Vin de France wines don’t require intimate knowledge of French wine laws, and all usually display modern-looking labels with grape varieties prominently listed. Matched with the accessible prices, Vin de France wines remain some of France’s most approachable wine options.
Bouchard Aîné & Fils 2020 Grand Conseiller Limited Edition Pinot Noir (Vin de France); $13, 91 points. Scents of plum, red apple and red currant open this wine. A bright and juicy palate mimics the nose, with tart acidity matching well with structured tannins that are good team players. The finish is just as bright, with acidity taking on an apple-skin tartness. Boisset Collection. Best Buy.
François Lurton 2020 Les Fumées Blanches Rosé (Vin de France); $15, 91 points. Pale salmon in color, this wine doles out kumquat, calamansi and grapefruit rind on the nose. Light and bright lemon, Key lime and pink-grapefruit flavors take on a pleasant bitter-lime note towards the finish. It’s loaded with mouthwatering acidity and a hint of oyster shell on the end. Surville Enterprises. Best Buy.
Jacques Bourguignon 2020 Chardonnay (Vin de France); $12, 91 points. Aromas of candied grapefruit peel, fresh lemon and praline form the nose on this wine. Ripe and candied notes of Meyer lemon and pink grapefruit lead the palate with bouncy lime acidity and a chalky feel on the finish. The wine lingers with acidity, becoming more tart as fresh citrus notes come to the foreground. Advantage International. Best Buy.
Cavalier & Sons 2020 Chardonnay (Vin de France); $10, 90 points. Orange peel, white peppercorn and walnut scents show on a subdued nose. The palate of this wine is well concentrated. Candied lemon and mandarin are ripe and loaded with juicy acidity. Oak notes are beautifully balanced, adding croissant and butter tones that form a good structure. Toast emerges on the finish. Saranty Imports. Best Buy.
Doudet Naudin 2020 Pinot Noir (Vin de France); $10, 90 points. Black plum, black tea, vanilla and sawdust form the nose on this wine. The palate is loaded with black currant, cherry and blackberry, with bright, well-balanced acidity. A vivid apple tone marks the finish where acidity builds to a crest. Tannins are lightly sandy throughout, offering a good base along with pepper and wood tones. The finish lingers long. Fine Terroir Selections. Best Buy.
Gérard Bertrand 2020 Orange Gold Organic White (Vin de France); $27, 90 points. Kumquat, donut peach and Valencia orange meet marigold on the intriguing nose of this wine. The juicy palate is loaded with Valencia orange, peach and Granny Smith apple. This wine is dry and lighty tannic on the long finish, but thoroughly enjoyable. USA Wine West.
Maris 2019 Made with Organic Grapes Vermentino (Vin de France); $17, 90 points. A light citrusy nose on this wine combines lemon and white blossoms with a mineral edge. The palate delivers peach and citrus fruits up front, with brisk acidity and a ripe nectarine and crushed-mineral finish. Vintners Alliance.
Nic Rager 2020 Pinot Noir (Vin de France); $13, 90 points. This deep-ruby-colored Pinot opens with aromas of plum and raspberry clafouti, with hints of vanilla and blackberry bush. Blackberry and black plum are ripe and persistent, joined by vanilla and sweet baking spice and bright acidity. Tannins are firmly structured with good grip, bringing peppery spice along with them. The finish blends another dose of vanilla with the dark fruits and a cool wave of acidity that lingers. Savorian Inc. Best Buy.
Barton & Guestier 2019 Bistro Pinot Noir (Vin de France); $12, 89 points. Raspberry and cherry are touched by whispers of sage and licorice on the nose of this wine. Juicy flavors of cherry, raspberry and strawberry pop on the palate. The bright acidity is crisp, with gentle tannins firming it up. Enjoy soon. Barton & Guestier USA. Best Buy.
Jaffelin 2020 Pinot Noir (Vin de France); $15, 89 points. This wine offers bright cherry, cranberry and raspberry aromas. Juicy on the palate with a pop of acidity, the cherry and raspberry flavors charm, with a gentle grip of tannins and a long cherry finish. Matinicus Wines, LLC.
Simonnet-Febvre 2018 Des Lyres de Pinot Noir (Vin de France); $19, 89 points. The nose on this wine mingles cranberries, apples and violets, with the subtlest suggestion of barnyard. Almost sweet, juicy fruit notes are pumped up by boisterous acid. Cranberry, red plum and raspberry flavors lead to a long finish. Louis Latour Inc.