For light, easy-drinking, and delicious white-wine values, consider the Gascony region of southwest France.
The area is best known for its production of Armagnac, the white-wine-based brandy that takes its name from the Armagnac region and is France’s oldest spirit. Armagnac production dates back to the 14th century and is eclipsed only by Cognac in French brandy fame and importance.
Some of the main grapes used in Armagnac are Colombard, Ugni Blanc, and Gros Manseng, which, when distilled and aged in oak barrels, produce a rich and complex spirit that is sometimes compared with bourbon. It’s usually enjoyed as an after-dinner drink.
By contrast, those same grapes give us delightfully crisp white wines that are relatively low in alcohol and are perfect as apéritif wines and with lighter foods. One to try is the 2020 Harmonie de la Taste Côtes de Gascogne from Domaine la Taste, which adds Sauvignon Blanc to the blend.
The wine is produced by the Fontan family, whose estate was one of the first in Gascony to bottle its own wine in addition to using it for Armagnac production. With alcohol at 11.5 percent, the Harmonie de la Taste shows white flower, apricot, green apple, grapefruit, and ripe tropical fruit notes. There’s a stony minerality and just the right amount of balancing acidity.
Think of it as a versatile white wine for herbed fish and chicken dishes, sushi, asparagus soups (with or without cream), and your favorite goat cheeses.
This is one of the more interesting Côtes de Gascogne wines out there. It’s perfect for summer drinking with a price — around $11 — that’s unbeatable.