Off-the-beaten-track French wines and ciders

It’s a bumper French special in the print edition of delicious. magazine this month – and what a country France is to explore when it come to drinks. It’s given us the words ‘aperitif’ and ‘digestif’, both the pre- and post-dinner drink, as well as perfecting the wines to drink during a meal… Expert Susy Atkins picks interesting choices for all of those, plus wonderful French ciders, a French soft drink and the best buys for the ultimate kir royale.

Off-the-beaten-track French wines and ciders

Taste the Difference Jurancon Sec 2021, France 13%
From the Pyrénean foothills near Pau, a white made from local grapes gros manseng and petit manseng, which deliver fresh apricot, passion fruit and lemon, with a richer honeyed note but dry finish. Chill it for grilled herby chicken. Available from Sainsbury’s (£9, down to £7.50 until 5 Sep).

Taste the Difference

Chevalier de Fauvert Syrah Rosé 2022, Pays d’Oc, France 2022 12%
Move over Provence! A good example of the often better-value rosés from the Languedoc to the west. Pears, red cherries and redcurrants abound in this juicy, dry young rosé. Available from Lidl (£5.79).


Amstramgram Pomone Le Vin Orange 2022, Vin de France 13
Orange wines are made by leaving white grapes on their skins for a period to add colour and complex flavours, and this is the most impressive one I’ve tasted all year. Salted peaches, orange peel, red apples and a trace of sandalwood are all in there – fantastique with a French cheeseboard. Available from Grape and Grind (£14.25).


Domaine Jones Fitou 2020, 14.5%
Old vines are valued for the concentrated flavours in their grapes, as showcased in this fine blend from British winemaker Katie Jones, whose vineyards in southwest France are over 100 years old. Grenache, carignan and syrah create a compote of raspberries, black cherries and red cherrydrops with an oak-spice twist. One for lamb. Available from The Wine Society (£14.50).

Fizz and crème de cassis for kir royale

Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire Brut NV, France 12.5%
Traditionally, kir royales are made with crémant from Burgundy, but this great-value Loire version, with its lively fizz and creamy citrus notes, works every bit as well. Chill before using. Available from Tesco (£12).

Cremant de Loire

Crème de Cassis de Dijon, France 16%
Here’s the heart of your kir royale (and other fruit cocktails). Use about 30ml of this deep purple, sweet cassis from Dijon, bursting with fresh blackcurrant, topped up with dry fizz. And do splash it into summer puddings and pour over ice cream too… Available from Sainsbury’s (£8.50).

Creme de Cassis

A fabulous French aperitif, digestif and soft drink

Teisseire Fruit de la Passion Sirop, France
These tins of syrup remind me of holidays in France and this flavour is a winner, just the right mix of sweetness and crisp, fresh passion fruit. Use more of it than the tin suggests – about 1:6 with still or sparkling chilled water. Available from Waitrose (£5.30 for 60cl, down to £4.20 until 29 August).


St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, France 20%
Named after the arty neighbourhood of Paris, this makes a late summer floral-fragrant spritzy aperitif. Add cold sparkling crémant, sparkling water, a squeeze of lime and sprig of mint – et voila! Available from Waitrose (£21.50) or Majestic (£22).

Elderflower Liqueur

Domaine Tariquet Armagnac XO, France 40%
Dried orange peel, toasted wholemeal, wood-spice and prunes are just some of the flavours in this very fine, mellow brandy from family-owned Tariquet. Sip a little neat by the firepit at the end of a long feast (a square of dark chocolate goes nicely with it…) Available from Waitrose (£34).


French-style ciders

Normany and Brittany have proud cider-making traditions stretching back hundreds of years. Here are three great examples…

Domaine des Cinq Autels Cidre de Normandie Brut, France 5%
A well balanced organic cider with a soft sparkle, honeyed hints and plenty of juicy apple that lingers long on the palate. Super with cheese, ham and crusty bread. Available from Vinceremos (£8 for 75cl).


Maison Sassy Cidre Rosé, France 2.5%
Sweet red apple succulence combines with a refreshing sherbetty sour streak. Very moreish, thirst-quenching cider made from 18 different Normandy apple varieties – just as well it’s so light in alcohol… Available from Majestic (£3.50).

Maison Sassy

Le Brun Fermier Brut, Cidre de Bretagne, France 5.5%
Scrumptious dry Breton cider that tastes like baked apples with a hint of tannin to give a bit of structure. This could take on pork chops or sausages. Available from Mon Panier Latin (£5.50).

Mon Panier

A couple of French favourites from the delicious. team

Noilly Prat vermouth
Editor Karen Barnes says: “Made in Marseillan in southwest France since the 1850s (to a recipe that’s said to predate Italian vermouth), Noilly Prat is my go-to dry vermouth. As well as enjoying it in the occasional martini, I like to use a splash in seafood seafood stews and sauces. An all-time classic.” Available from Tesco (£12).

Noilly Prat

Altitude Alpine Strawberry Pink Gin
Projects editor Louisa says: “I’m a big fan of Altitude Alpine Strawberry Pink Gin, made with wild strawberries from the Alps (more complex than regular ones with vanilla and rose notes) and mountain botanicals. It has a crisp aftertaste reminiscent of meadow herbs and pine forests, and makes for a refreshingly off-piste G&T”. Available from Altitude Gin (£35).


Match of the month

Doudet Naudin Pinot Noir 2022, Languedoc, France 13%
Lively young pinot, packed with plums and pippy brambles. Our roast honey and sesame duck breasts need a relatively light and juicy red; here it is. Available from The Co-op (£8.65) and Majestic (£11.99, £9.99 as part of a mixed six).


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