Chateau de Duras
Chateau de Duras, (Dan Sloane, Flickr)

One of the joys of visiting France is being able to drink reasonable quality affordable wine, often at half the price or less of the same wine back home. Now I love a good bottle of French wine for a special occasion but when I was living in France we decided, for everyday drinking purposes, to see how low we could go – could we get a bottle that was really pleasant for less than 6, 5, 4 or maybe even below 3 euros? I’m not talking about wine en vrac – I mean a bottle that you can buy at the supermarket that you could happily enjoy drinking with friends without feeling like a cheapskate. Something that didn’t make you feel worse the next morning (quality-wise, not quantity!), something that you would recommend and reliably enjoy drinking again and again. I know it’s subjective, and that tastes and budgets vary but I’m going to share my experience and I hope to hear from others with their recommendations.

560cuveepremiereblancdetcopieI’m kicking off with a white wine that fitted the bill perfectly. Côtes de Duras. An AOC wine cultivated around the town of Duras in the Lot-et-Garonne.

Our little how low can you go experiment seemed to show that it was easier to drink some quite quaffable red wines at 4 Euros and below (enormous variations!) but for white wine it was more of a challenge. The cheaper you go the thinner and more acid they seem to become. But the Côtes de Duras Sauvignon Blanc turned out to be a hidden star, a really nice crisp Sauvignon that was easily available and turned out a consistent wine year after year. At 4.50 EUR it proved to be a winner and I soon discovered we weren’t the only ones in our neighbourhood drinking it.  

Strictly for research purposes I visited Duras – it’s a really pleasant hill-side town inland from Bordeaux and the Gironde, in that part of the Aquitaine which used to be Gascony. Apparently they have similar chalky soil conditions to Bordeaux though the climate is a little warmer. They produce reds and rosés too but I haven’t tried them – my boot was full of the Sauvignon.

I’d love to hear from people in Aquitaine or other regions of France with their best local good quality favourites for under five euros – please leave your comments below.

À ta santé!