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As the festive season rolls around, so do all the parties, dinners, and cosy family gatherings associated with the holidays. Whether you’re hosting or attending events, having a few bottles of wine on hand is always a good idea—but stocking up on fine wines can often rack up quite the bill. That said, you don’t have to compromise on taste to get a top-notch bottle of wine—even if you’re shopping for labels from the wine capital of the world (a.k.a. France).
One of the best things about France’s long and storied history of wine production is that exemplary bottles from small, family-owned wineries can be easily discovered at the local vinothèque at an affordable cost. Happily, you can recreate the experience of discovering niche labels from independent wine producers at very wallet-friendly prices right here in Hong Kong (sans language barriers). To prove that, here are six varied and delicious bottles of French wine under $300 which you can present proudly to even the most discerning oenophiles in your circle.
Perfect for those who love a bit of bubbly, Domaine de Canta Rainette’s Caprice Blanc is a “blanc de blancs,” which refers to Champagne and other sparkling wines made exclusively with white Chardonnay grapes. While it is not technically Champagne—being made in Provence—this sparkling white wine is vinified, matured, and bottled at the Domaine according to traditional methods. With a nose that is pleasantly floral with hints of citrus, this sparkling wine is light, crisp, and extra dry; pairs well with seafood, white meat, and fruity desserts.
About the winery: Nestled among the lavender fields and rolling hills of the picturesque Côtes de Provence, the Canta Rainette winery has been in the Castellino family since 1958. Since taking the reins in 1990, Edouard and Denise Castellino have ushered in an era of profound modernisations, and are joined by their son Mathieu today in running the 30-hectare Domaine, which produces rosé, white, and red Provence wines.
Made from Sauvignon grapes grown in “caillottes” pebbly limestone clay—known for yielding well-balanced results with a coveted mineral quality—this Sancerre Sauvignon blanc from Domaine Pellé is a classic rendition of the style. Smooth and round, it features ripe fruit flavours balanced beautifully by soft citruses, grounded by that hard-to-define mineral depth. Aromatic and intense without a hint of astringency, this Sancerre would pair perfectly with seafood—smoked salmon, sushi, shellfish—and complex cheeses, like the goat milk-based Crottin du Chavignol.
About the winery: Though their Domaine was only established in the early twentieth century, the Pellé family had been making wine for their own consumption for years. Now run by the fourth-generation winemaker Paul-Henry Pellé, Domaine Pellé owns vineyards in two neighbouring villages in the Loire Valley—Menetou-Salon and Montigny, the latter of which is in Sancerre, a famous wine-producing region best known for its Sauvignon blancs.
Attending a dinner party, but not sure about what’s on the menu? Bring along a bottle of this versatile and easy-to-love Domaine Saint Luc Grand Bosquet. Made from a combination of Grenache and Shiraz grapes, this is a dry and extremely well-balanced red with a beautiful garnet hue. Offering a fruity palate replete with notes of red fruits, there is a lovely spice to the wine that is tempered with hints of floral notes (violets, in particular). With its bold and tannic character, it can be enjoyed on its own or alongside a variety of foods—red meat, white meat, and cheese. Try it with a hearty beef stew, a spiced Moroccan tagine, or a soft cheese like Saint-Félicien.
About the winery: Ensconced among the truffle oaks and lavender fields of the southern Rhône Valley, Domaine Saint Luc comprises 36 hectares across Grignan-les-Adhémar AOC (Appellation d’origine contrôlée; controlled designation of origin) and Côtes du Rhône Villages Suze-la-Rousse. It’s run by siblings Olivier and Marie Maunier, who both spent years working in prestigious wineries in southern France before deciding to acquire their own winery.
Complement the robust flavours of festive meals with Château Tour Grand Faurie’s Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, which is produced in the prestigious Saint-Émilion AOC in Bordeaux. Made from Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, which have been selectively hand-harvested from the château’s best vines and extracted gently, this wine has great ageing potential. From the minute the bottle has been opened, its boldness is evident from the deep, concentrated red colour of the liquid and the intense nose of spicy black grapes, oak, and tobacco.
Full-bodied with a smooth, tannic palate, there is a lot to love about this wine, whether you choose to drink it immediately or age it in storage. Pairs wonderfully with rich dishes like steak, duck magret, and truffle risotto.
About the winery: The Feytit family has been making wine since the 1930s and gradually expanding their plot over the decades with the profits from their wine. Today, siblings Isabelle and Franck Feytit manage the 14-hectare “Grand Faurie” estate together, which has been in the family since 1949.
Unlike the dessert wines typically associated with the eponymous grapes, this organic Riesling
from Domaine Aimé Stentz et Fils is light, dry, fresh, and aromatic—crisp, even. Made in the northeastern region of Alsace, the grapes were grown in a sandy clay that imbues the wine with that ever-elusive minerality. The light bouquet marries white flowers with a subtle hint of hydrocarbon that is prized and unique in Rieslings. Upon tasting the wine, however, you’ll discover a palate of citruses—lemon, bergamot, grapefruit—rounded out by apples, peaches, tropical fruits, and a touch of flintiness. This bottle goes well with spicy, sweet, fatty, or tangy dishes—so you can have it with dim sum, curry, or even an oily, flavourful fish.
About the winery: The Stentz family has been producing wine in Alsace, the culturally distinct region bordering Germany, since 1919, continuing to modernise the estate, attaining an organic certification in 2010. Nowadays, fifth-generation winemaker Mark Stentz manages the winery with his parents Jocelyne and Etienne.
Finally, what would the festive season be without Champagne? Whether you’re counting down to the new year at a lavish party or enjoying a quiet toast with your nearest and dearest, a glass of fizz is always welcome during the holidays. Maison Monmarthe’s Secret de Famille is a classic Champagne, made from Pinot noir, Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes in a “premier cru” village within Montagne de Reims in the Champagne region.
Light and aromatic with notes of hawthorn and white peach and fine, elegant bubbles, this will please both serious and casual drinkers alike. (And most of all, the clever clogs who picked it up for just $238!) Enjoy it alongside seafood, desserts, or on its own as an apéritif.
About the winery: Although their Maison was established in Ludes in 1930, Monmarthes have resided in the village since 1737. For over 80 years, Monmarthes have been producing top-quality champagnes; today, sixth-generation winemaker Jean-Guy Monmarthe leads the estate on that mission.
Discover all the above and more from Bakus Cellars, a new Hong Kong-based wine supplier providing a direct line to France’s hidden gem wineries. Founded by a third-generation winemaker, the company is on a mission to make great French wines accessible to all. You will not find any flashy international brands here—Bakus’ focus is on family-owned wineries with passion, strong know-how, and heritage, which offer authentic and top-quality wines at reasonable prices. Best of all, there is no minimum order—customers can buy as few or as many bottles as they want, with fast and free delivery across Hong Kong for any order of six bottles or more.
As part of their efforts to make purchasing (and drinking!) high-quality wine easier for consumers, the Bakus team has built their website to be as simple and comprehensible as possible. Each wine listing comes with a succinct three-word description, and search results can be filtered based on the grapes, wine region, and food pairings.
For those who are not sure what they want (or are open to trying a range of options), Bakus offers curated six-bottle Bakus Boxes—red, white, and a varied selection—as well as a special three-bottle quarantine box that gets delivered straight to your hotel or quarantine centre.
If all that sounds good to you, head on over to Bakus Cellars to stock up for all your upcoming holiday party needs—as a welcome perk for Localiiz readers, Bakus is offering a 10 percent discount across the whole website until 15 January 2022 with the code BAKUSFEAST. What could be merrier than that?