We've just about given up on finding good French wines under $20, let alone for less than $10. The southern regions of the country known as Langeudoc-Roussillion or Corbieres, just north of the Pyrenees Mountains and Spain, offer some inexpensive wines. But you have to know what you're doing or else test a lot of wines to find the bargains that are worth drinking.
Wines from the more famous regions are getting out of reach when it comes to price. Most of us looking for bargains have moved on to Spain, Chile, and Argentina. The great wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy seem to be regularly reaching the $100+ range. Too green for our palates and pockets.
We were trying out a new warehouse wine store in an unfamiliar city the other day, looking for some wine to take to a dinner party. In the Côte du Rhône section, with the Chateauneufs and other expensive burgundies, we spotted a $12 bottle that was highly rated—along with a $7.99 bottle of Côte du Rhône that was also rated in the mid-80s by somebody or other.
Well, the $7.99 bottle was certainly worth a try. And what a surprise. The first thing that hits you is that the wine is dark as night. Not what you expect from what should be a lighter red. The next sensation is the smell of berries, followed by the taste of dark, black berries. Then the taste of licorice. Just a bit of sweet and dark and licorice.
But the wine—a 2007 Château de Nages Costieres de Nîmes red Rhône wine—was not heavy. It went very well with pork tenderloin, white-bean casserole and fresh tomatoes.
When you find a rated Côte du Rhône for less than $8 and it tastes like at least a $20 bottle of wine, it's time to go back to the store and stock up.