The global pandemic and a trade war with the U.S. delivered a one-two punch to France’s wine and spirits industry in 2020. According to the Federation of Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS), exports fell 13.9% last year as the industry hopes a new presidential administration will deliver some relief [ . . . ]
— French wines from €10; and an easy cocktail to make with a new gin
By LESLIE WILLIAMS
A recent spate of watching French movies and TV ( Spiral, Lupin, Call My Agent, Une Fille Facile etc.) sent me into my samples corner this week to see what I could find from la Belle France. In addition, Lidl have their annual ‘Taste of France’ promotion in store this week and I’ll be stocking up on Normandy Cider, Saucisson Sec, Breton Butter Biscuits and of course my guilty pleasure — Croque Monsieur sandwiches.
The Croque Monsieur is admittedly best consumed in a dive bar with a bottle of Stella Artois and a Pernod chaser but it seems unlikely I’ll get to do that this year. France is easily the country I’ve spent the most time in besides Ireland and 2020 was the first year I didn’t get to visit since around 1993 — I miss it.
While there is little good to be said about Brexit, a small positive is that it will draw Ireland closer to France with more ferry crossings already in operation and hopefully more opportunities for Ireland’s produce to sell there and vice versa — there is no doubt the French will appreciate our better produce far more than our nearest neighbour ever did.
I think what I love most about France is that my rather obsessive food and drink-focused life is considered perfectly normal there. I love its huge diversity of wine styles and its pursuit of perfection in all areas of gastronomy. The Appellation d’Origine Protégée (formerly ‘Controlée) system covers not just wine and cheese but also chickens, prunes (Agen), lentils (du Puy) and even chilli powder (the wonderful Piment d’Espelette from the French Basque country).
Of course, the AOP system is by no means perfect and more a guarantee of typicité than of quality but it is still miles ahead of any similar system and of huge benefit to rural France where a tiny region can gain fame for a cheese (there are more than 400), an eau de vie or a white pudding (Boudin de Rethel) made by only a dozen or so producers. We should be aggressively pursuing similar IGPs (Indication of Geographic Protection) for Ireland — Cork needs an IGP for spiced beef, drisheen and maybe even things like buttered eggs.
Selections this week are all from France and are a mixum-gatherum of wines —about 20 of which I tasted over the past fortnight. I think only the Dunnes Daronton Ventoux has appeared before and that was a from a different vintage. Bon Appétit et Vive la France!
Wine Under €15
Jean Cornelius Riesling, Alsace, France — €9.99
Jean Cornelius Riesling, Alsace, France — €9.99
Alsace is the only French region where Riesling is permitted in an AOP wine and thank goodness as it loves the Alsace climate. The best Alsace Riesling from producers such as Trimbach or Zind Humbrecht are among the best white wines in France. Entry-level but with typicité, this has lively apple and pear fruits and good balancing acidity with lingering tart apples on the finish.
La Roche d’Argent, Saint Émilion 2018, Bordeaux — €12.99
This is my pick of the Bordeaux in the Lidl French promotion, still a bit young but from a ripe year so drinking well now. Dark red-purple in colour, dark plum aromas with some violet hints, full and concentrated on the palate with crunchy textures and ripe black fruits. This will soften a little over the next five years.
Terroir Daronton Ventoux 2019, Rhône, France — €12.50
From the Rhonéa Cooperative, which has 236 growers in the Dentelles de Montmarail mountains (geographically Provence but classified as Southern Rhône). Made in a deliberately fruit-driven style, this is packed with red and black fruits with noticeable spice notes — fruit-driven palate with a bit of grip and structure thanks to its youth, but very drinkable and suited to rich casseroles or a mid-week pizza.
Wines Over €15
Puech Morny 2019 Gigondas, France — €16.99
Gigondas is a half-hour drive north-east from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and good examples have similar weight and power (if perhaps a little less elegance) than the best wines of its more famous neighbour. This pours a rich purple-red with aromas of dark cherry and blackberry and is fruity and supple with good creamy concentration and richness. Lingering spicy red fruits on the finish and a solid example of Gigondas, a wine that generally costs at least €22.
Kuentz Bas Mosaïk, Alsace, France — €16.69
We associate Alsace with varietal wines but there is a long tradition of blends, often field blends from the same vineyard. This is made from 30% Sylvaner, 20% Pinot Blanc, 15% Pinot Gris, 15% Muscat, 10% Gewüztraminer and 5% Chasselas and, as you would expect, floral Gewüztraminer is detectable on the nose but also pear confit — textured and almost lush on the palate but with balancing acidity. This matched a Tartiflette perfectly.
Château Crabitey Graves 2019, Bordeaux, France — €24
White Bordeaux is often rather overlooked and although it represents just 10% of the wines of the region, it can offer excellent value and quality at all price levels and ages beautifully. A blend of 70% Sauvignon and 30% Sémillon, this has stony citrus and apple aromas that follow through on the palate with the Sémillon flavours rounding out the mid-palate and adding complexity and length. The red version is also recommended.
There’s a famous quote by Rumi that best describes the importance of a fine wine, “Either give me more wine or leave me alone”
Only a true connoisseur of wine would connect to this saying and only a true lover of wine would know the real worth of a French wine. France, besides being famous for its rich culture, age-old traditions and grand architecture, the country is globally renowned for its wine. The world swears by French wines and every region here produces its own beverage. So let’s take a trip to some famous French vineyards that will tell you everything to plan your vineyard trip in France.
Wine of Provence
Your French vineyard tour won’t be complete without tasting the wine of Provence. This breathtaking French region is just a few hours drive from Nice and is known for producing some fantastic wines. This entire territory is dotted with vineyards and one can also enjoy wine tasting experiences here. The warm climate and the region’s proximity to the sea makes it a perfect place for grapes plantation. Syrah, Cabernet, Sauvignon, Cinsault and Clairette are some of the best wine brands here.
Wine of Loire Valley
Loire Valley is another famous wine producing region in France. Some of the popular vineyards here are located in Anjou-Saumur, Touraine, The Pays Nantais and Central Vineyards. Loire Valley wines are light and that’s what makes them so popular. One can choose from a stunning selection of red wines, white wines and sweet roses.
Wine of Burgundy
Burgundy is a historical French territory famous for its vineyard regions. The wine regions of Burgundy include Côte de Nuits, Châblis, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais, to name a few. The wine produced in this region is considered complex, which makes it very expensive. The region also produces some amazing white wines made from Chardonnay, and red wines made from Pinot Noir.
Wine of Bordeaux
A wine lover’s list of favorite wines won’t be complete without mentioning Bordeaux wine. Counted among the most famous and also the largest wine regions in France, Bordeaux is the world capital of wine! Situated in Southern France along the sea, the wine produced here tastes unique as it comes mixed with mineral qualities.
Rhone Valley wine
Another popular wine region in France is the Rhone Valley in Southeastern France. The region is spread across the meandering Rhone River and the wines produced here are the most expensive one. The Rhone Valley wine is known as Côtes du Rhône wine and some of the prominent products here include Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Viognier.
Food Pairing for Red Bordeaux Wines allows for a number of different dishes that serve to compliment and enhance both the food and wine. We take a look at both Left Bank and Right Bank Red Bordeaux Pairings, in addition to the recipes needed to make these delicious and savory dishes.
The Bordeaux region of France is one of the most noteworthy winemaking regions in the entire world. It’s prized by both wine aficionados and newcomers alike due to its rich flavor, complexity, and refined characteristics.
While both red and white wines are produced in Bordeaux, it’s typically the red blends that are most prized by consumers.
Bordeaux red wines are complex, with rich mineral flavors, earthy tones, and refined red, black & blue fruit. Today, we’ll be looking at the best Bordeaux food pairings & recipes for various styles of Red Bordeaux Wine.
A “Bordeaux” red blend (also called a Claret) is typically made from at least two grape varieties, however, there are up to 5 grape varieties that are approved to be utilized when making red wine in the Bordeaux region. Those grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
The Best Food Pairing for Bordeaux Red Wines – Left & Right Bank Red Blends
Also worth noting is that there are several sub-regions within the Bordeaux winemaking region of France. Depending on location, some red wines may be more Cabernet Sauvignon heavy, while others may be more Merlot dominant. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to split Bordeaux in two and discuss two typical winemaking styles in the region that most commonly utilized
The winged creatures may help the wine industry salvage a terrible year
It’s not such a batty idea: Bordeaux wine producers are building bat-friendly habitats on their vineyards to help eradicate the issue of grapevine moth and grape berry moth infestation.
And in doing so, they’re hoping to salvage a beleaguered French wine industry that’s suffering not only from pests but high tariffs, climate change and the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, all of which is decimating sales of high-end wine bottles.
As Forbes reports, wine producers in France are creating strips of grass between the vines and building bat boxes; the hope is that the insect-eating mammals will eradicate the moths that cause botrytis, a gray mold that’s seriously hurt the industry before, particularly Champagne.
A Bordeaux-based scientist has been catching bats in nets and testing for the moths in their digestive systems; unfortunately, even their presence can’t prove if the yields will increase, as there are too many factors (such as climate) that change every year.