Wine: Neil Courtier - New outlook brings great wines

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Vin de France (formerly Vin de Table) is, in theory, the most basic level of quality for wines from France.

A typical wine in this category tends to be uncomplicated and for everyday drinking, usually a blend, but also varietal-based. However, a new outlook and energy has emerged, bringing to the table the most exciting wines from this humble classification ever produced. Cross regional blending provides wine-makers with an opportunity to be experimental and as the wines do not meet the criteria laid down by Appellation Contrôllée, the label has to stipulate – Vin de France. Vineyards that are just outside a delimited production area may also fall into this box.

The savvy wine buyer, who’s willing to take a dip into Vin de France, is likely to be pleasantly surprised at the quality and often staggering value for money. Sante!

Vin de France to try:

Cuveé Pêcheur – Wine Makers Selection – Ugni Blanc & Colombard 2014 – £4.99 Waitrose – Aromatic, citrus-toned, with vibrant, tangy acidity, light, fresh and perfect as an aperitif, or with asparagus, salads and light fish dishes.

Duo des Mers – Sauvignon, Viognier 2014 – £6.25 The Wine Society – Sauvignon from Gascony, meets Viognier from the Languedoc and what a great blend this is. An open, scented lime and peachy bouquet, the palate has texture and a refreshing quality too. Try with prawns.

Bouchard – Grand Conseiller – Chardonnay 2013 – £5.99 Tesco – Light gold with a tint of green. Acacia, with citrus fruits and a trace of vanilla - well balanced, bready notes, butter, lemon, youthful acidity and a pretty good finish.

Montgravet – Cinsault –Rosé 2014 – £5.99 Waitrose – A soft ‘Provence rosé-like’ appearance. Red-fruits and citrus on the nose. This is a pretty serious rosé, showing strawberry flavours and a juicy mouthfeel and very good length. Enjoy with garlicky seafood, or gazpacho.

Cellier des Dauphins – Reserve Des Vignerons – Merlot, Grenache 2014 – £5.79 Waitrose – Extremely approachable, exhibiting damson plum, strawberry and a trace of pepper on the nose. Medium-bodied, juicy and very agreeable. Match-up to Coq au Vin, or pork sausages.

Jacques Dépagneux – Pinot Noir 2011 – £5.95 The Wine Society – A deepish colour (for Pinot Noir) and very generous on the nose. A smashing wine – cherry, some dark fruits too, rounded and plush to taste, with instant accessibility along with some structure too.