Wine Essentials – Class #2 – FRANCE

Wine Essentials # two was all about the Burgundy and the Bordeaux regions in France one of the most elegant yet complicated winemaking regions out there. Here are a few fun facts that will be helpful when navigating through France bottles in your store…

Wines are classified in four categories governed by very specific laws which will help you pick your bottle out…

Classifications (Lowest quality first)

  • Vin de Table (Table wines – lowest classification)
  • Vin de Pays (must use specific grape varieties on the bottle; increasingly popular and rather cheap and perfect for daily-drinking wines)
  • AOVDQS (Smaller more regional areas – this classification has basically disappeared
  • AOC (Highest classification; name of origin which are controlled – rules cover grape-variety, methods of growth, producing, localization, alcohol contents)
Therefore, whenever you look for a French bottle the more specifics it has on the label the better quality the wine
Vineyard Ratings (rating in highest quality first)
  • Gran Cru -  wines are produced from the small number of the best vineyards in the Côte d’Or, that strictly abide by the AOC classification
  • Premiere Cru - wines are produced from specific vineyard sites that are still considered to be of high quality, but not as well regarded as the Grand Cru sites.
  • Unclassified – produced by a blend of wines from lesser vineyard sites
Bordeaux’s are almost always Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot (sometimes Malbec)

Tastings (wine’s I liked BOLDED)

Bordeaux, ‘Lillet Blonde’, NV.  - Retails $18 (Bordeaux Region) – Fortified

  • Notes: Orange, herby, stoney, honey scents; Sweet, Fresh, a little syrupy, orange, honey and bitter on the palate
  • Pairings: Savory salty foods, hard cheeses, anything with spicy mustard; great sipping wine before dinner

Entre Deux Mers, Blanc Reserve, Chateau Tour de Mirambeau 2009 – Retails $12 (Bordeaux Region)

  • Notes: Bright vibrant, lemon/lime in smell; Acidity, fresh mineral tasting, vibrant, attacks then goes away
  • Pairings: amazing with goat cheese, shell fish with herbs etc..

Chablis, 1er Premier Cru, Montmains, William Fevre 2006 – Retails $35 (Burgundy)

  • Notes: Smells fruity, heavy weight, earthy flavors ‘acidicly’ rich, smooth finish
  • Pairings: Aged goat cheese, roasted veal, salmon

Meursault Poruzots, Premier Cru, Louis Jadot 2005. – Retails $60 (Chardonnay; Cotes de Beaune, France)

  • Notes: Earthy, smokey, aged oak in smell; calm acidity, bitter, tannins, bitter edge – tastes like buttered popcorn!
  • Pairings: Brie, something with a crisp skin – Chicken, Veal w/ wild mushrooms

Beaujolais Villages, Georges DuBoeuf 2009 - Retails $8 (Gamay grape; Bourgogne, France )

  • Notes: Smells of light cherry, strawberry; Acidic strawberry, sour cherry and vibrant, does not have a lasting taste in your mouth – drink while young
  • Pairings: Poultry, Caesar salad, pasta, pizza – great for outdoor picnics!

Bourgogne, Pinot Noir, ‘Maximum’, Laboure Roi 2007 – Retails $16 (Bourgogne, France)

  • Notes: Dark cherry smell; Tannic savory cherry flavor, very elegant and a well-rounded wine
  • Pairings: delicate dishes such as roasted chicken, vegetable salads, and cheeses like Gouda.

Fixin, 1er Cru, Clos Napleon, Pierre Gelin 2007 – Retails $48 (Bourgogne, France – Pinot Noir) 

  • Notes: Earthy, tobacco, wood, sour cherry in smell; acidic, tannins, sour fruits/rich
  • Pairings: Mushrooms with veal and fish

Saint Emilion, 1er Grand Cru Classe, Chateau Gaffeliere 2005 – Retails $110 (Bordeaux, France – Merlot, Cab Franc)

  • Notes: Dark cherry, plum smelling; chalky tannins, rich dark plums, cherry, elegant and not too earthy
  • Pairings: Softer meat, roast beef, seared duck breast

Pauillac, Cru Classe, Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste 2004 – Retails $60 (Pauillac, France – Cab Sauv, Merlot, Cab Franc)

  • Notes: Woody, cedar, dark blackberry in smell; Strong tannins, leather, “cigary”, smokey in taste
  • Pairings: Meat, lamb, beef, seared steak

Stellenbosch, ‘John X Merriman’, Rustenberg 2007 – Retails $30 (S. African (new world) – Bordeaux Blend)

  • Notes: Green pepper, ripe fruit very robust in smell; spicy dark cherry, fruitier tannins woody in taste
  • Pairings: Braised BBQ, short ribs; great for outdoor bbq’s!
Sauternes, 1er Cru Classe, Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey 2006 – Retails $65 (S. Bordeaux, France – Semillion, Sauv Blanc)
  • Notes: Sweet, honey, stone fruit in smell; fruit syrup, ripe, honey in taste
  • Pairings: Amazing with blue cheese – This pair makes for a great dessert!
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