When we took our trip to Italy years ago, Kish and I concluded that it was impossible to get a bottle of bad Italian wine. Go to any restaurant, get their table wine, and you would inevitably get a very good wine that would sell for a pretty penny in the States.
My experience this trip suggests that France is the same way. There is an excellent wine shop right across the street from our apartment. I’ve purchased several bottles of wine there for between 6 and 9 Euros each (roughly $9.00 to $13.50) and they have been uniformly excellent. All were French wines from wineries I’d never heard of — and they made me decide to test my theory, with the help of Richard and two of his friends.
First I bought a 2008 Cotes du Rhone for 3.85 Euros — about $5.75. We agreed it also was quite good. Then we put my theory to the acid test last night, by buying a Vieux Papes for 2.95 Euros (about $4.50) and a Cuvee du Pere Bernard for 1.90 Euros (about $2.95). The Vieux Papes was pretty good, and the Cuvee du Pere Bernard was still decent, although we were probably reaching the outer limits of drinkability and common sense with that purchase. (I’ve seen the street people of Paris drinking other kinds of wine that undoubtedly were cheaper, and I didn’t really want to go there.)
France therefore finished strong in the cheap wine competition. There’s probably a bad bottle of French wine somewhere out there, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find it.