When it comes to choosing French wine for reasonable prices, it helps to know someone you can trust.

The Australian Wine Club has been working closely with born-and-bred Bordeaux local Jean-Marc Sauboua for years.

Jean-Marc was trained at Château Haut-Brion, one of Bordeaux’s five Premier Grand Cru Classé (First Growth) estates, and has been making and sourcing wine in the region for 35 years.

French winemaker Jean-Marc Sauboua, vertical. For now. Picture: Supplied

While he has a highly pedigreed wine background, I’ve come to appreciate Jean-Marc’s talents in identifying wine estates capable of producing high-quality wines without a Grand Cru price tag.

He has shown me that if you venture just beyond the official borders of the most famous French appellations, you can find classy wines for a song.

“I call them next-door wines,’’ he says. “People think French wine is good but very expensive. That doesn’t have to be the case if you know where to look.”

Jean-Marc’s fingerprints are all over The Australian Wine Club’s selection of affordable “end of financial year” French wines on offer this week. French reds, in general, tend to be less fruit-forward than Australian cabernets, merlots and shiraz, offering an elegant, savoury drinking experience.

“Trying wines from other places is like travelling,’’ Jean-Marc says. “It’s enlarging your experiences and knowledge. It’s a way of life.’’

Chateau de Colombe Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2021

Jean-Marc spotted the potential of this little chateau a decade ago and convinced our wine partners in the United Kingdom, Laithwaites, to purchase the vineyards and invest in restoring them after years of neglect. The chateau is now back to its best, winning more than 11 gold medals across the last five vintages, including at the Berliner Wine Trophy for this 2021 merlot-based blend.

You’ll savour aromas of cherries, raspberries, plums and cinnamon oak, leading to a classic Bordeaux palate showing dark berry flavours, with hints of pencil shavings, tobacco, coffee, vanilla and earthy spice. The chateau sits just across the slope from Saint Emilion’s Grands Crus Châteaux Faugères and de Pressac. Open early and decant before drinking.

Excellent value. 13.5% alc; RRP $34 a bottle.

SPECIALS $25.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.49 a bottle in EOFY French dozen.

Chateau Le Coin Bordeaux 2020

Jean-Marc has been working very closely with the owner of the Chateau Le Coin vineyard, Ludovic Roussillon, for more than 20 years. The chateau is located across Bordeaux’s Dordogne River from the grand estates of Saint Emilion such as Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau Pavie. With a similar climate and soil, Chateau Le Coin produces entry-level Bordeaux that shares some of the characters of the more illustrious (and expensive) merlot produced on the right bank.

The 2020 vintage produced superbly balanced fruit. Aromas of cassis, plum and leather, followed by tobacco, cigar box and licorice characters, lift from the glass. Blackcurrant and plum flavours drive the medium-bodied palate, along with vanilla and cocoa. Grippy tannins.

Decant for an hour while you prepare a rack of lamb with garlic and rosemary. 14.5% alc; RRP $28 a bottle.

SPECIALS $21.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.49 a bottle in EOFY French dozen.

Le Prince de Courthezon Cotes du Rhone 2020

Created by Rhone star Thierry Ferlay and sourced from the only co-operative cellar (owned and run by local growers) in Chateauneuf du Pape. The grenache, mourvedre and syrah come from vineyards just next door to the famed grenache-growing appellation. It has become a popular go-to for our wine club followers and the 2020 doesn’t disappoint.

Lighter than an Aussie GSM but full of flavour. You’ll be tempted by aromas of ripe raspberries, spiced plums and black pepper leading to rich red fruit flavours built on a medium-bodied frame.

Gold medal winner at the Gilbert & Gaillard International Competition, 2021.15% alc; RRP $26 a bottle.

SPECIALS $17.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.49 a bottle in EOFY French dozen.

Terres d’Arboras 2021

These vineyards lie on the high-altitude slopes of the Cévennes foothills in the little-known Languedoc wine region of Mont Baudile. A classic southern French blend of syrah, grenache, mourvèdre and carignan packed with ripe juicy fruits, producing flavours of blackberry, plums and vanilla and nuances of rosemary and other wild herbs. This is a sumptuous, smooth red, backed with zingy acidity and polished tannins.

A cracker for any barbecue. 13% alc; RRP $28 a bottle.

SPECIALS $21.99 a bottle in any dozen; $19.49 a bottle in EOFY French dozen.

EOFY FRENCH DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $19.49 a bottle. SAVE $153 a dozen.

Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.