Over the past several months we have journeyed through the many wine regions of Italy, the number one volume producer in the world. While the trip was fun, I could never consider it to be comprehensive. I just hope that you all took the opportunities offered to expand your palates and have some fun. In that same vein, let us tackle the number two and sometimes number one volume wine producer in the world. France.
While wine has been produced in Italy for much longer than in France, it can be easily argued that France has done it better for a much longer time. The reason I say this is simple. Prior to the late ‘90s, Italy was known for producing copious quantities of bulk wines such as simple Soaves and questionable Chiantis. In fact, Italian wine is still the number one imported wine in the US by volume.
Conversely, France is the number one importer into the US by dollars. In other words, on average the French wines purchased in this country cost more per bottle than their Italian counterparts. Oddly enough this has been the case throughout the history of wine in the US.
Many of the founding fathers were big Francophiles. Benjamin Franklin was a big fan of French wines. By 1778 his Paris wine cellar list showed almost 1000 bottles of French wine such as Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy. This was handy for Thomas Jefferson who arrived 6 years later and fell in love with the French vinous products. So much so, that not only did he spend the rest of his life trying to recreate the French vineyards at his estate, Monticello, some of the most expensive bottles of wine currently sold at auctions are purported to be his.
All throughout American history, the finest restaurants were French and so were the wines on their lists. While this has changed over the last 25 or so years, the French still claim a disproportionately large share of the fine dining market and their very French wine lists. Even in the world of fine wine auctions, most collectable wines still hail from Burgundy and Bordeaux. Two of the most important fine wine regions in France.
What this means is, over the next couple of months it will be time to strap on that beret, grab some cheese, find your white flag (little harsh?) and prepare to settle in with some of our finest French finds such as those below.
Lavender Row Pinot Noir, The island of Corsica is actually only 12 Kilometers from the Italian state of Sardinia and over 120 kilometers to Nice but it is French. It is from here that this wine hails. This light, easy-drinking wine offers notes of flowers, red cherry, savory, red berries, herbs and caramel. Only 10.99!!!
Domaine Saint-Lannes Le Merlot, this wine definitely sounds more French and, in fact, comes from a very famous brandy producing region known as Armagnac. A beautiful wine with a blended aroma of dark fruit and spice. On the palate is a soft blend of fruit, spice and flowers accompanied by pretty, bright acidity. Just 10.99!!!
Puech Cremat La Bastide aux Oliviers, Its black fruit flavors are enhanced by a touch of liquorice. Smell: Big intense nose with black cherry and pureed blackcurrant notes. This wine's character comes from ageing very ripe-picked grapes in barrel. Over the years, this wine will develop even more complex and intricate aromas. Only 13.99!!!
~ Randy Freeland ~
Prices good through 10/22/14.