Essential Winemakers of France ©Opening a Bottle
Beaujolais, France

Alsace

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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Barmès-Buecher

Riesling and Pinot Gris at its most energetic and vibrant.

Champagne

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

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, wink-wink).

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.

Beaujolais

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 estate home at Château du Moulin-à-Vent. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

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Château du Moulin-a-Vent

Gamay Noir pushed to the limit of refinement and elegance.

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.

2012 Château Simone Palette Blanc ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

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Château Simone

White wines meant for aging? Red wines that whisper their secrets? A forest reserve to keep the adjacent vineyards cool? This Provençal estate is unlike any other.

Bordeaux

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.

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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.

Southern Rhône + Languedoc

Vastly different wine regions but with one commonality: the sun. Because of this, alcohol levels can get high, and the style of wine we like to feature — subtle, precise and elegant — is often harder to find. But these producers thread that needle perfectly, while offering plenty of hedonistic delight.

The E Prove Corse Calvi wines of Domaine Maestracci. ©Kevin Day/Opening a Bottle

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Maestracci

Like a 50-50 blend of Italian flavors and French refinement, Corsica represents one of the most under-the-radar wine regions in Europe. Domaine Maestracci serves as an essential introduction.

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
– Promotes Biodiversity
– Old Vines
– Heroic Viticulture
– Volcanic Soil
– Traditional Winemaking
– Clay Vessel Winemaking
– Family-Operated Winery
– Historic Winery
– Co-operative Winery
– Négociant
– Stay at Winery
– Olive Oil Producer
– Age-Worthy Wine
– Expensive Wine (+$100)
– Requires Some Searching

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