Jacqueline Friedrich: The Wine Humanist WINE BY PEOPLE, FOR PEOPLE; WINE FROM THE HEART

Selected Works

Wine Guide
An indispensable, user-friendly guide to France’s best and best-value wines. Don’t leave home without it!
Wine & Food Guide
The first and only in-depth guide to the wines and foods of the Loire.
My various reflections on Didier Dagueneau compiled and posted here.
For Those Who Want Yesterday's Papers
My Previously Published (and retrievable) Articles
Website Supplement
A guide to the people who make frequent appearances in FrenchFeast and their gastronomic (or other) tales.
Wine Tours

The Wines of France:
The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers

counter for myspace

The book was published in the fall of 2006 by Ten Speed Press. List price $19.95.

August 2007: New Review: Dr. Vino's Wine Blog
The URL for Dr. Vino's site is at the end of the review. At the side of the page there's a hyperlink. One click will bring you to the site itself.
Dr Vino’s wine blog
wine talk that goes down easy
The wines of France in 360 compact pages? Heck, I’ve read a book longer than that on one region, the Loire! That was my incredulous reaction when I first spotted The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers by Jacqueline Friedrich across the room at Barnes & Noble.

But upon closer inspection, what this svelte paperback ($13.75 on Amazon) sacrifices in depth, it makes up for in breadth. Friedrich has no shortage of tasting experience–or opinions–and wheels around her quick tour de France in what is essentially an annotated directory. She dispenses with such page-consuming graphics as maps, label images or chateau pictures. Divided into regions, each section leads with a one page overview and then heads straight into an alphabetical listing of producers and subregions. Her favorite producers receive a star, ones to watch get an up arrow, and she usually notes in the text if a producer is “eco-friendly” or not.

This is great for skimming and finding an instant nugget of information, as I could see a flummoxed sommelier or shopkeeper doing. Or you can say “hey what is this Vouvray region I’ve been reading about?” for example. Bam–a couple of ‘grafs on Vouvray and a list of her favorite producers including a paragraph on her six faves (Aubuisieres, Champalou, Chidaine, Gaudrelle, Huet, and Clos Naudin/​Foreau for all you Vouvray junkies out there). This can be great for setting up an itinerary. But once there, you may want more info on the producers, which is possible in this case to get from Friedrich since she wrote that 400-page book on the Loire. So when can we expect other regional guides from Friedrich?

So just how are those opinions that she hands out with such ease? Well, they seem quite good on the whole–to wit, I had not tried the Chateau des Jacques wines from Beaujolais that she was rhapsodic about and included them in my recent Bojo tasting and I was very glad I did. However, the parsimony of the star system on display in the tiny Vouvray breaks down in areas where there are many good producers. Consider St. Emilion, where no fewer than 28 producers receive stars. This isn’t an undue amount, but it’s just that fast simplicity is lost. She goes some distance to making up for that with her “Bordeaux crib sheet,” which again narrows the field and includes many worthwhile producers. She seems to punt on the extracted/​not-extracted issue, starring the likes of Bon Pasteur and Pavie, while commenting that the controversial 03 Pavie tasted “port-like.”

Ten months on from the publication date, as the 06s have been harvested and the 07s are about to be, I have only one question: what are the chances of getting a 2008 update to this handy little reference?

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One Response to “The Wines of France, by Jacqueline Friedrich”


On August 16th, 2007 at 1:03 pm ,Steve wrote:

Yes, this is the #1 must have buying guide for any self-respecting wine geek. My young copy is way dog-eared.

I don’t mind the copious amount of stars - it seems as if her rating of producers is as follows:

not included: either avoid or she missed it
included in appellation lists: buy
profiled: really buy
profiled and starred: buy now


July 2007 New Review
BOOK REVIEWS (in iSante.com)
The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers
Jacqueline Friedrich
Ten Speed Press
While all pocket-sized wine guides are marketed to consumers, they do serve as on-the-ready reference resources for over-extended beverage managers and sommeliers. When it comes to French wines, there is no better guide than The Wines of France, The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers. The subtitle may suggest a consumer-centric treatment, but Friedrich’s book contains a wealth of knowledge garnered over the years by a consummate wine authority and writer. This smart volume, organized by wine region in ten chapters, is filled with razor-sharp insights and with Friedrich as mentor, restaurant buyers can’t miss choosing stellar French wines for their lists.

June 2007: PICTURES!!!!! To see what my living room looked like while I was working on the book, scroll down past the blurbs.

January 11, 2007: a funny thing happened when I was cleaning out my junk mail filter: I found the book had won the Gourmand World Cookbook award for best Wine Guide in English at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Here are some unbiased blurbs from the book’s cover. Reviews and reactions follow.

"Formidable detail; genuine insight; temptations on every page: this could be the most useful single book to take with you to France."
--Hugh Johnson, author (In my opinion, the Shakespeare of wine.)

"This is an incredibly useful, comprehensive, and informative guide. The French still make more great wine than any other nation in the world, but they don't make it easy to understand. Friedrich does. Novices need this book; wine geeks will want it."
--Jay McInerney, author

“I love this book! Jacqueline Friedrich’s The Wines of France is truly one of the most comprehensive and informative books of its kind. It is an invaluable tool for the wine professional and consumer alike with its organized, in depth coverage of the appellations and their vignerons. It is definitely the perfect companion to have with you on your next trip to the wine shop.”
--Caroline Styne, Owner/​Wine Director, Lucques restaurant and AOC winebar

“Jacqueline Friedrich’s latest book is remarkable in its depth and breadth of coverage. It provides an accurate analysis of each producer and region’s styles. My entire staff uses it all the time now and it has become their favorite reference.”
--Thomas Keller, Chef-Owner, The French Laundry and Per Se

"Much needed, fabulously realized--how many guides are this entertaining and filled with useful advice? I like the author's unsnobby approach and compulsively readable style. And I learned so much. Her book is full of great wines at low prices, and she understands that wine is, above all, about pleasure."
--Kermit Lynch, author and (trailblazing) wine importer

“Straightforward, clear, concise, Cartesian, and useful. Reading Jacqueline Friedrich's The Wines of France you will learn about the revolution in French wine making and that French wines have never been better tasting or better priced than they are now."
--Jacques Pépin, host of numerous PBS-TV cooking series, cookbook author, and cooking teacher
(Nice as this is, I was more flattered by a recent note from Pepin's secretary. She thanked my editor for having sent a complimentary copy and asked if Pepin might have two other copies of the book to give to wine-loving friends for Christmas!)


February 2007

From the current issue of La Revue du Vin de France, a short but sweet review from Michel Dovaz (get out your dictionaries!):
Un panorama complet du vignoble francais L'Americaine de Paris et de la vallee de la Loire, collaboratrice des guides de Hugh Johnson, du New York times, etc., publie un panorama complet du vignoble et des vins francais. Ici,pas de photographies, mais des cartes simplifiees et priorite au texte, qui le merite: il est dense, fiable, sobre et riche. Les oenophiles francais, qui ne disposent pas de ce type de livre, sont-ils victimes des editeurs ou de leur gout (couteux) pour la photographie?

January 2007

Shopping Guides for Italian and French Wines
By Sharon Kapnick

A couple of shopping guides for Italian and French wines have recently been published. Although quite different, they’re both a great help in getting a handle on these very important regions.

The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers
Jacqueline Friedrich
Ten Speed Press; $19.95

Jacqueline Friedrich adores French wines, and her enthusiasm is catching. Her new book, The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers, is meant to be just what the title says. It’s helpful whether you’re browsing in wine shops or on websites, studying restaurant wine lists or traveling in France. Friedrich covers 12 regions — Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Jura and Savoie, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Loire, Provence and Corsica, Rhone and the Southwest. She details their grape varieties and the kinds of wine they make and reviews the producers she likes best, offering tasting notes of some of their wines. If you like, you can take her mini-course, by studying the crib sheets, which feature Must Trys, Smart Buys and Safe Houses. Their information alone is worth the price of admission.

Award-winning author and certified sommelier Sharon Kapnick has written about food and wine for many magazines, including Time, Food & Wine and Hemispheres, and many newspapers, thanks to the New York Times Syndicate. She wrote several entries for the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.

©2007 Sharon Kapnick for SeniorWomenWeb


(Tony Aspler’s site)
ARTICLES More Articles
The Wines of France: The essential guide for savvy shoppers (January 12, 2007)

book review
by Dean Tudor

The Wines of France: The essential guide for savvy shoppers (Ten Speed Press, 2006, 378 pages, ISBN 1-58008-688-8, $23.95 paper covers) is by Jacqueline Friedrich, a US food and wine writer who splits her time between Paris and the Loire (she had previously written a book on the foods and wines of the Loire which won major awards such as the Glenfiddich and Beard). It has been enthusiastically endorsed by many logrollers, but only Kermit Lynch's words have any real meaning for me.

The book is meant mostly for travelers to France, to indicate the best-value wines there and the hot new winemakers in France. She notes the up-and-coming French wine regions and sub-regions, a boon for the consumer both traveling in France and for buying wines at home. Her listings of top wine producers in each of the ten regions include a broad overview, price ranges, recent vintages, and contact details. Each region has a basic map and a one-page crib sheet for lists of "Must Trys," "Smart Buys," "General Good Values" and "Safe Houses". Believe it or not, Ontario imports a ton of "Safe Houses"!

France created the benchmark wines: pinot noir in Burgundy, sauvignon blanc in Loire, riesling in Alsace, shiraz-syrah in North Rhone, sparkling in Champagne. Unfortunately, while France makes (to most of us) the best and worst wines in the world (and charges accordingly), they are not business marketers. Friedich documents this quite well and notes all the changes. But perceptions of inexpensive wines are slow to change – just ask the Ontario wine people. Her takes on unknown wines are valuable: just check out the sections on Jura, Savoie, Languedoc, Provence, and the Southwest of Bergerac and Gaillac. There is a small piece on how to order wine in a French restaurant or in a wine store (she lists eight top stores in Paris), as well as a glossary and an index.

Audience and level of use: Travellers, French wine lovers, libraries.

Some interesting or unusual recipes/​facts: She comments on extreme wines (micro-oxygenated, garagiste, biodynamic, hypernatural): "And the resulting wines were plush, immediately seductive, awash in sumptuous ripe fruit and fine oak flavors, and low in acid; any abrasive tannins were absent." Hardly a food wine.

The downside to this book: It is a bit oversized for ease of portability by hand.

The upside to this book: She is very diplomatic. About Beyer wines, a major Alsatian producer in the Ontario marketplace and found in many restaurants, she says "They are pleasant and professional and suited to the distractions of a bustling public space." Is this lady available to write up the rest of the world's wine regions?

Quality/​Price Rating: 95


From Jancis Robinson's superb website:www.jancisrobinson.com

(Explanatory note: I had placed a query on the members' forum site asking if anyone knew anything about a grape called Verdanel. I forgot to sign my name, thinking it would be automatic. There were a number of responses, among them:)

Jancis Robinson (Mission Control) (08:54 AM - Dec 9, 2006)

Just mended Jacqueline's subscription details so that she is no longer billed as Anonymous, which would indeed be highly inappropriate for such an accomplished wine writer.

Everyone should know that she has just produced a stunningly useful and opinionated new book, The Wines of France , a paperback regional then alphabetical directory of France's better wine producers and appellations with contact details (including lots of email addresses - manna) and Jacqueline's trademark passionately held opinions. It's well designed and vary easy to navigate. I shall certainly be taking it with me to Burgundy next week. It's published by Ten Speed Press of California who are at www.tenspeed.com.

December 6, 2006 The New York Times
The Pour

Settling in, Glass in Hand, to Read of Wine

USED to be you could tell the time of year in New York by the weather, but you can’t always count on that anymore. This week’s chill was preceded by a spell of humid muck that required other means for gauging the season. Like the Christmas trees on the streets, despite the salesmen in shorts. And, for me at least, the wine books that engulf my desk before the holidays.

Not that I mind. Most people who love wine love reading about wine, the regions where it is made and the people who make it. Among this year’s crop, here are six volumes that I found especially noteworthy. ...
With their emphasis on tasting notes and vintages, shopping guides can be hard slogging, but three new ones offer absorbing reading. Foremost among them is The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers (Ten Speed Press, $19.95) by Jacqueline Friedrich, whose last book, “The Wine and Food Guide to the Loire,” published in 1996, cries out for a new edition. In this book she embraces France region by region, offering opinionated reviews of producers and concise demystifications of the French nomenclature that bedevils American consumers.

Ms. Friedrich does not try to be complete, but she clearly understands the trends that are reshaping the French wine industry. She shows a marked preference for what she calls hypernatural wines, those made with the least intervention possible, yet she is sympathetic to styles that would seem to be diametrically opposite, like the plush, oaky garagiste wines of St.-Émilion.

{Note from me: I certainly appreciate having been singled out by Asimov but take issue with just two things: I don't think I have a marked preference for hypernatural wines, and I do think the guide is pretty complete. But that's what makes horse races. I think Mariani, whose review is below, gets it exactly right -- or totally gets what I hoped to do. That, as they say, is what makes horse races.}
Holiday Cheer -- Four New Books on Wine and Beer: John Mariani

By John Mariani

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Three new volumes about wine, and one on beer, have impressed me for the pleasure of their prose as well as the depth of their expertise. For the holiday season I would happily give them to friends who like to read as much as they like to drink.

Passion for France

Despite its wide-eyed subtitle, the ``The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers'' (Ten Speed Press, 384 pages, $19.95) by Jacqueline Friedrich is highly informed, offering far more than the usual screed of regional names and endless tasting notes. It's personalized but based on decades of Friedrich's visits and interviews with the best and the not-so- wonderful vignerons of France, and I trust her judgment -- especially with less familiar young wineries.

``There's the occasional rough edge in the wines from this eco-friendly family domaine,'' she writes of Rene Simonis in Alsace, ``but most of what I've tasted is delicious. The limpid, sweet riesling Cuvee Reserve is charmingly (sic*) priced.... The mellow, syrupy tokay-gris Vogelgarten VT would be lovely paired with fish in a mushrooms sauce.''

Friedrich, who is never doctrinaire or didactic like Robert M. Parker, splits her time between Paris and the Loire Valley. She has no agenda, and throughout more than 300 pages her enthusiasm and passion for French wines comes through in descriptions of even the most obscure bottles. It's a lively read, like spending time with a connoisseur who would rather share than preach.

(* the word should be 'charitably') (The other three books are the third edition of Jancis Robinson's Oxford Companion to Wine, a book on Italian wine and another on beer.
Communication Vinicole Internationale

Ton livre est un guide personnel... A l'ouverture il a l'air hyper rigide et sévère, mais à la lecture des appréciations très sympas et chaleureuses, surtout précises et justes (pour ceux que je connais)... Et surtout quel travail ! on se rend compte du temps que tu as passé, car c'est bref sur chacun mais précis.
Un guide donc qui fait la différence, bravo !

(Michele, a trained enologist, is one of the best PR people in France.)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Bonjour Jacqueline,

Je viens de recevoir ton livre. C'est un double cadeau: le livre en lui-même, et les choses que tu y écris.
Merci donc et double merci! Je suis également très heureux de lire tes excellents commentaires sur des collègues que j'apprécie beaucoup.

Je l'ai parcouru avec avidité, et mes premières impressions sont confirmées. Le style est direct, enthousiaste et spontané. Un vrai bain de jouvence au beau milieu de cette presse spécialisée pompeuse, rabacheuse et défraichie.

Le livre est vraiment original, dans sa forme et dans son contenu. Tu évites également le piège des notes ou des étoiles. C'est un vrai travail d'auteur, de créateur, et de journaliste. Je suis sûr qu'un grande quantité d'amateur trouveront leur bonheur dans ce livre.

Et bravo pour l'humour!
Finalement ton livre n'est pas sans me rappeller, par sa verve et son style alerte et piquant, celui de Kermit Lynch ("Voyage à travers les vignobles de France").
Faut-il que ce soit vous, les américains, qui nous apportiez un peu de vent frais et de fantaisie?

En tout cas, bravo! Ca valait le coup que tu croules sous les échantillons.


Alain (This is Alain Hasard from Champs de l'Abbaye in Burgundy.)
(Many of France's wine committees have written notes similar to the one below.)


Je tenais personnellement à vous remercier de vos écrits sur l'appellation Côtes de Bourg pour votre guide "the wines of France".
Votre approche qualitative de l'appellation est extrèmement fine et votre sélection reflète une véritable connaissance du monde des vins.

A très bientôt dans les Côtes de Bourg

Didier Gontier
Directeur du Syndicat Viticole des Côtes de Bourg

One angle of my living room while working on The Wines of France.

Another angle of my living room while working on The Wines of France.

How the Book Works:

There are ten chapters--each corresponding to a specific wine region such as Bordeaux or Champagne. Following a brief introduction--which explains the style of wines, the grape varieties, price range indications, recent vintages--the meat of the chapter is organized alphabetically. This consists of basic explanations of the various appellations within the region, producer ratings and contact details, vocabulary unique to the area in question. Each chapter ends with Crib Sheets, a list of “Must Trys,” “Smart Buys,” and “Safe Houses” for quick reference. At the end of the book there is a list of grape varieties, a glossary, an index and a one-page crash course in ordering wine in France--so you can leave your dictionary in your hotel room.

Thousands of French wine producers are recommended--some more highly than others. When I explain an appellation--Sancerre, for example--I include a complete list of the domaines recommended. Those listed in small caps have separate entries in the alphabetical listing (with tasting notes and contact details); listings for producers without separate entries include sufficient, if terse, comments to give the reader an idea of the quality and style of the domaine’s wine.

Here is the entry for the Sancerre appellation followed by the entry for the first Sancerre producer with an individual listing, Boulay. (Please note, however, that I have used normal caps instead of small caps to indicate producers with individual listings. That's simply because I don't yet know how to get small caps on this page! For similar reasons I've used * to indicate producers with a star rating and + to indicate a promising producer.)

Sancerre: Important eastern Loire AC for whites, reds and roses. Whites, pure Sauvignon Blanc are envigorating and fragrant (often to the point of pungency) and have created the model for Sauvignon the world over. Generally dry, though some producers (eg COTAT) make an off-dry wine from very ripe grapes.

Most vintners make at least two types of white, with increasing attention to soil type, notably Kimmeridgian marl (called Terres Blanches), the same soil that gives Chablis its distinctive character; compact chalk (caillottes) and soils with important outcroppings of silex. Many of these terroir-specific wines use the name of the vineyard, particularly when it concerns a LIEU-DIT. The best and most famous of the lieux-dits include: Chemarin and Chene Marchand and La Poussie (in the charming village of Bue); les Bouffants, le Cul de Beaujeu and Les Monts Damnes (in the even more charming village of Chavignol; Clos du Roy and Cote de Champtin (in Champtin); le Paradis in Sancerre and la Perriere in Verdigny.

Reds and roses are made from Pinot Noir. The reds have improved significantly over the past decade. The best can give non-Cote d’Or Burgundies a run for the money. The roses, when taken seriously, are delightful.

Best Recent Vintages: 2005, (2004, for those who kept yields low), (2003, if you like your Sancerres fat), 2002.
Prices: $ to $$$

Producers: GERARD & THIBAUT BOULAY *;¶ HENRI BOURGEOIS *;¶ Roger Champault & Fils: (Skip the 2003s in favor of the delightful 2002s, both the grapefruit-mineral “Les Pierris” and the broader, higher-pitched “Clos du Roy. The reds are light and appealing);¶ Dom Daniel Chotard: (very pleasant Sancerres, particularly the special cuvees, like the grapefruit and fig accented Marcel Henri in white and the inviting Le Champ de l’Archer in red. There’s also a fragrant rose); ¶Francois Cotat: (Sancerres unlike any other--except those of cousin Pascal. Both work the same slopes in Chavignol--Monts Damnes, Grandes Cotes, Cul de Beaujeu--and follow similar practices in vineyard and cellar. These ample, complex, mineral, lime-and-linden-blossom Sancerres are highly sought after, age well and often have some residual sugar) *; ¶PASCAL COTAT *;¶ DOM FRANCOIS (formerly Robert) CROCHET +; ¶LUCIEN CROCHET *; ¶Dom Vincent Delaporte: (stylish Sancerres in three colors for sleek brasseries); ¶Andre Dezat et Fils (Les Celliers St. Romble): endearing family winery whose charming Sancerres have been served at the table of the Queen of England, which shows good royal taste, at least in things vinous) *; ¶PASCAL JOLIVET;¶ Dom Laporte (See HENRI BOURGEOIS); ¶ ALPHONSE MELLOT *; ¶Dom Millet:(Franck Millet makes a pleasant red and two good cuvees of white, a juicy entry level Sancerre and the ampler, more mineral “l’Insolite”); ¶ DOM. DE MONTIGNY (NATTER); ¶HENRY PELLE *; ¶ VINCENT PINARD*; ¶Pierre Prieur/​Dom de St. Pierre: a highly respected (and recommended) family domaine. Try the oak-aged red “Marechal Prieur); ¶ Bernard Reverdy: (super Sancerre roses. Pair with prosciutto and melon. Yum!); ¶ Hippolyte Reverdy: (a good family domaine with particularly successful 2003s);¶ (Note that there are many Reverdys in Sancerre. Other Reverdys whose Sancerres merit sampling are Daniel; Jean; Pascal & Nicolas (esp. the Vieilles Vignes) and Bailly-Reverdy); ¶ Jean-Max Roger:(reliable Sancerre-area negociant, a safe bet);¶ VACHERON *; ¶ Dom Andre Vatan: lively, mainstream whites, esp. cuvee Saint Francois.

Gerard & Thibaut Boulay *
18300 Chavignol;
Sancerre: $$
The Boulays are neighbors of the Cotats in Chavignol and work many of the same lieux-dits in much the same way. The wines bear a strong resemblance to those of the Cotats (including the occasional presence of residual sugar) and that’s a good thing--as there is never enough to go around. Their simplest bottling is a great bistro Sauvignon; the richer bottlings, like those from Cul de Beaujeu, are distinctly terroir-driven, ample and mellow. Their red Sancerre is a light but characterful red, a delight.



1) Dirler-Cade: Ludivine, not Ludovine.


1) Leoville-Poyferre: not owned by AXA but still by long-time owner Cuvelier family. Under Didier Cuvelier, improved quality. Michel Rolland was consultant.
2) Typo: L’Evangile.
3) Crib Sheet: Domaine de l’A is Cotes de Castillon, not St. Emilion.
4) Crib Sheet: Chateau Ducasse is Bordeaux Superieur (and should be in Graves as well), not St. Emilion.


1) Sauvignon rose: “rose” does not take an accent over the ‘e’ (cf p. 132, St. Bris entry, and elsewhere).
2) Guffens: Maconais, not C(halonais.

1) Phone number for Francois Pinon should be:

1) AC Coteaux Varois en Provence. (There's no "du".)


1) Beaucastel: it’s Coudelet de Beaucastel, no longer Cru de Coudelet.
2) Gramenon: grenache for is the grape variety in the cuvee Poignee de Raisins.