One of the fun things about the vast wine trade in France is that it has developed many Specialist Wines ranging from unusual wines to fortified wines to liqueurs and spirits. We have provided some information on the more common ones here:

Monbazillac: This sweet white wine is produced in the Bergerac area and is excellent with Foie gras or as a dessert wine. It has a beautiful golden colour, can be drunk young, but equally may be laid down for up to 15 years.

Vin Jaune: This unusual wine from the Jura region in the east of France develops its green colouration over as long as six years before it is bottled. It is a strong heady wine and is claimed to have the longest after taste in the world, as long as one minute! Bottles purchased from a good vintage and reputable producer can be kept for more than 50 years before drinking! Buy now for your retirement!

Fortified wines

Pineau: This speciality of the Charente area is a blend of wine and brandy, similar to sherry. The pineau is categorised based on the length of time for which it was kept on the barrel. We would recommend to buy the oldest ones you can as they definitely improve with age.

Nectar de Chantal: a beautiful dessert wine from the Chateau de Boussargues (left) in the Rhone valley (near Ales). This wine has been blended with aromatic spices to make a quite beautiful bouquet. But it’s only available from this one vineyard – Grandma’s special recipe!


Absinthe: Which is no longer available in France as it has been made illegal due to its powerful intoxication and reputedly harmful side effects!

Pastis: was derived from Absinthe! It was legalised in 1951 hence the brand name which exists to this day. Can mix with water (1/5th Pastis to 4/5ths water) creating a beautiful cloudy drink tasting gently of aniseed.

Calvados Brandy: A popular spirit in the Normandy region which is made from apples.

Cognac/Brandy: one of France’s famous drinks, not surprisingly originating from Congac in the Charente.

Armagnac: a high quality brandy, originating from the Gers area in South West France.

We recommend a visit to the Château de Cassaigne for dégustation!


Our favourite food and wine in France: