12 Quintessential Southern French Wines for Under $20

Tasting Highlights’ wine reviews are fresh out of the tasting room, offering a sneak peek of our editors’ most recent scores and notes to WineSpectator.com members.

The Southern Rhône is a melting pot of grapes and styles. With more than a dozen appellations featuring both single-variety wines and blends, there’s plenty to choose from. This selection of reds and whites shows the essence of the region: While no two wines are alike, they all exemplify the Southern Rhône’s appeal—and all for less than $20 a bottle.

Our whites are all blends that span the region, but are tied by overarching flavors of orchard fruit and honeysuckle. Starting in the west, Domaine Maby’s Lirac is juicy and floral, and Michel Gassier‘s Costières de Nîmes exhibits exotic fruit and great acidity. Moving east, the Domaine de Montine from Grignan Les Adhémar has a distinct nuttiness, while the M. Chapoutier from Lubéron is bright, with bouncy green plum and apple flavors. These wines contain between three and six different local grapes, from Grenache Blanc to Roussanne to Clairette.

The reds come from four different appellations—Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Ventoux and Costières de Nîmes—and all share berry and stone fruit characteristics. While the wines of the region tend to be blends, it’s not unheard of to see the odd single-variety bottling, like Michel Gassier’s red Costières de Nîmes, which is 100 percent Syrah. The wine stands out for its savory flavors of pepper and herbs.


91  – Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes white 2016

Yellow apple and star fruit notes are lively, thanks to crunchy acidity underneath, while light honeysuckle and pear hints check in as well. Tasty. Drink now through 2019. 450 cases imported. – James Molesworth

91  – Michel Gassier Syrah 2016

Ripe and sleek, showing plum and cassis notes inlaid with flashes of white pepper, sage and leather. Silky but abundant tannins carry the finish. Drink now through 2021. 750 cases imported. – James Molesworth

90  – Halos de Jupiter Costières de Nîmes 2016

Tasty, showing plump cherry, plum and blackberry compote flavors underscored with licorice detail and carried by a graphite edge through the finish. Solid. Drink now through 2021. 600 cases imported.- James Molesworth

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