Wine & Spirits

French Whites: It’s in the Name

A simple guide to six French white wines.

French Wines

The French refer to their wines by the area where they're made. When American winemakers called wines Chablis, Burgundy, or even Champagne, they just created global confusion. Here's a quick, simplified guide that might help.

This month's wine selections are from South Lyndale Liquors, 5300 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-827-5811.

Domaine Daulny Sancerre (Sancerre, Loire Valley, France)
Grape: 100 percent sauvignon blanc
Price: $22.99
If it is from the town of Sancerre (or neighbor Pouilly Fumé), it's sauvignon blanc, the only white grape grown there. It's crisp with great minerals and acid, an oyster lover's friend.

Domaine Allias Vouvray (Vouvray, Loire Valley, France)
Grape: 100 percent chenin blanc
Price: $18.99
If the wine is from the town of Vouvray, it's chenin blanc. This grape makes wines from dry to fruity, crisp to syrupy sweet, and the acid is always just right. This versatile wine will complement light salads or rich cream sauces.

William Févre Chablis (Chablis, France)
Grape: 100 percent chardonnay
Price: $24.99
If it's from Chablis, it's chardonnay. Chablis is considered the northernmost point of Burgundy but is a world unto itself. With flinty minerality and subtle fruitiness, these are elegant wines. Vineyards here are rated Village, Premier, and Grand Cru, with prices going up accordingly. Village Chablis is the original un-oaked chardonnay.

Morey Chassagne-Montrachet (Burgundy, France)
Grape: 100 percent chardonnay
Price: $59.99
If it's from Burgundy, it's chardonnay. Yes, white Burgundy. To complicate things, this top-rated chardonnay vineyard, Montrachet, is between the villages of Chassagne and Puligny. The wine is complex, rich, and sophisticated.

Château Graville-Lacoste (Graves, Bordeaux, France)
Grape: 35 percent sauvignon blanc, 60 percent sémillon, 5 percent muscadelle
Price: $19.99
White Bordeaux is from Graves and is always a blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon. It’s well balanced with pear and white peach and a crisp, clean acid; drink it young (this summer), and take that picnic to the next level.