Essential Winemakers of France ©Opening a Bottle
Roses growing alongside a road leading into a Beaujolais vineyard.


The "sleeper" of France is not just about Riesling. Alsace is light years ahead of its counterparts in terms of acreage under organic or biodynamic viticulture. Few regions have a more promising future.

The family behind Alsace's Barmès-Buecher. ©Barmès-Buecher

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Riesling and Pinot Gris at its most energetic and vibrant.


The world's greatest sparkling wine region now has stiff competition from all directions. But where it can't be beat (still) is in its reserve wines, where aging lends depth to impeccable blends.


Burgundy inspires a unique form of madness. Micro-plots of soil are held in near-sacred regard, and the resulting wines can fetch north of a thousand dollars upon release. The following producers, however, represent the spirit of the region well, without bleeding your bank account dry (for the most part that is).

Oak foudres in the cellar at Domaine de Villaine

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Domaine de Villaine

The most important modern winemaker in Burgundy established this white-wine focused estate in 1971, and in the process changed the game for the region's "third grape," Aligoté.


Thirty years ago, Beaujolais was all about "nouveau." Twenty years ago, it was down in the dumps. And ten years ago, terroir-driven wines of the Cru re-established the region. So what's next for "Bojo?" These producers offer a thrilling glimpse, but for different reasons.

The town of Arbois is at the center of wine production in the Jura, and lends its namesake to the Arbois AOC, of which Tissot has several wines. (Stock photo)

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Bénédict et Stéphane Tissot

The Jura's stock has risen rapidly in recent years, and this tradition-minded domaine offers the perfect first-taste of the region's unique wines.

Northern Rhône

The Northern Rhône stand alone among French wine regions for a variety of reasons: Syrah rules here, as does heroic viticulture on the river's steep slopes. The result: some of the finest, wildest, most age-worthy wines in the world.

Loire River

Stretching 625 miles through the heart of France, the Loire River fosters some of the country's most compelling vineyards. Incredibly, it is still largely affordable to buy.

2020 Domaine de la Pépière "Briords" Muscadet Sèvre et Maine

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Domaine de la Pépière

France's most underrated white wine reaches quite a peak at this Muscadet Sèvre et Maine estate.


First-growth. Second-growth. En primeur. Bordeaux is more elaborate than it needs to be, but every once in a while we come across a terroir-centric producer who reaffirms the greatness of Merlot, the Cabernets and the greatness of their blending.

Southern Rhône

Vast, expansive and overwhelming with options, sorting out the Southern Rhône can be a complicated endeavor. Yet when these wines — particularly the reds — reach their apex, the rewards are deep and profound.

Antique sign to Les Pallières winery in Gigondas, France

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Les Pallières

Two hidden vineyards. Two incomparable wines. One place where the terroir of the Southern Rhône shines brighter than elsewhere.

Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon & Corsica

There is an argument to be made that the Provence, Languedoc-Roussillon and Corsica should all be treated separately. But the solar nature of the wines and the need to preserve freshness and balance amidst the scorching heat means these winemakers have a great deal in common.

Old bottles of Clos Cibonne.

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Clos Cibonne

As guardians of the Tibouren grape and an old-school way of making Provençal rosé, Clos Cibonne is one of France's most unusual (and compelling) estates.

And What About Italy?

Ancient yet dynamic, familiar yet unexpected, Italy arm wrestles France for title of World's Greatest Wine Nation. Who's who in "the Boot" and why do they matter? Check out our Essential Winemakers of Italy list.

Key to Our Wine Icons

– Practicing Organic
 – Certified Organic
 – Practicing Biodynamic
 – Certified Biodynamic
– Biodiversity
– Polyculture
– Old Vines
– Heroic Viticulture
– Volcanic Soil
– Traditional Winemaking
– Clay Vessel Winemaking
– Family-Operated Winery
– Historic Winery
– Co-operative Winery
– Négociant
– Stay at Winery
– Age-Worthy Wine
– Expensive Wine (+$100)
– Requires Some Searching

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