For fresh white wine bargains, head to France's Gascony

The Gascony region in France’s southwest is most famous for Armagnac, but the grapes used in the brandy are also used in some excellent fresh white wines that offer real value.

One of my favorites is Domaine du Tariquet’s Cotes de Gascogne “Classic,” and the newly released 2014 vintage is one of the best I’ve tasted. This $8 blend of ugni blanc, colombard, sauvignon blanc and gros manseng is light and fruity with tastes of white peach, exotic fruit and citrus, mainly orange, with honey and a touch of minerality along the edges. There is good complexity here at a bargain price, and the wine is easy to drink with alcohol at just 12 percent. It’s great on its own and will match well with simple fish and shellfish.

Equally impressive is Domaine du Tariquet’s 2014 Chenin Blanc-Chardonnay, a winning $11 blend that’s 75 percent chenin and 25 percent chardonnay. Again, there’s good minerality here, and the chardonnay gives it a little richness. Apple, lemon, orange and tropical fruit notes are followed by a touch of cream on the finish. Alcohol in this one is also 12 percent and the wine is made without oak. It’s a satisfying alternative to much more expensive wines from the Loire Valley and Burgundy. For chicken, fish and everyday quaffing.

While these are quintessentially summer wines, they’re the kind of refreshing whites I like to start off with just about every day of the year. Imported by Robert Kacher Selections, New York. Received as press samples.

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