France: Articles on French Wine & Wine Regions

Top Ten Chateauneuf du Papes of 2016

I tend to taste and drink a lot of wine over the course of a year.  I am in a few tasting groups, sometimes the wines are consumed at various local wine store tastings and a number drunk with friends and family. 

Beaujolais Nouveau - The Wine List - November 2014

There is a wine phenomenon every November when the cry goes out:  Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrive!  For more information about this phenomenon, go here.   

Beaujolais Nouveau is a popular wine to serve at Thanksgiving for a few reasons.  First, they are prominently displayed on the store shelves at the same time people are shopping for their Thanksgiving groceries, 2) they are affordable wines that should cost less than $15 per bottle and can often be found for under $10, and 3) they match surprisingly well with Thanksgiving Turkey, cranberries and stuffing. 

I find most Beaujolai Nouveau falls in one of two groups.  They are either fun wines or wines that I wouldn’t drink.  A good Beaujolais Nouveau will have lots of cherry fruit, perhaps a bit of banana aromas and should be smooth and easy to drink.  Here are ten in the first group; wines that are fun, taste good and provide value.  There are others out there as well, but these are go-to wines for me.  One bit of caution, don’t buy too many.  These should be consumed by the end of the year.  The best thing about them is their freshness.

Northern Rhône Syrah: Foods to Pair and Meals that Call for Northern Rhône Syrah

The Northern Rhône region in France—the classic spot for Syrah wines. This is where the variety originated and where it became popular in the 1970s after decades of decline. In recent years, Syrah has become famous as a varietal wine and as a blending partner (with Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, to name two) all over the world, from Spain to the US and Australia. But when I think of Syrah, it’s France that comes to mind—medium to full-bodied wines with intoxicating aromas of exotic flowers, game and roasted meats, a stony minerality and an utterly seductive herbaceous quality. There are five appellations for Syrah in the Northern Rhône: the Côte-Rôtie, St.-Joseph, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage, the most famous region in the world for Syrah. In Hermitage, well-known producers like Guigal and Jaboulet produce wines meant to age for decades, with prices that could take a regular person about that long to save up enough to afford, for example, Guigal’s internationally traded, high-end “La La” wines, which are some of the most expensive in the world. Northern Rhône Syrah is so rich and powerful that merchants in Bordeaux in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries blended it with their own wines to strengthen them.

Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

If you are a wine lover, wine connoisseur, wine aficionado or even if you just like to have a couple of glasses on a Friday night, it soon becomes obvious that there are some wines that are held in a higher esteem in the wine world.  Sometimes, it is because these wines are very rare.  Other times, it’s because the wine has a place in history.   Sometimes it’s because the wine is just that good.  Here is a list of 75 wines from France that make up that category.  A few caveats.  I have not tried every wine on this list.  Some I have and others I hope to.  Many of these wines are rare and hard to find.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on the list.  After all, if the opportunity presents itself, go for it. 

Q&A with Allen Meadows of Burghound.com

Allen Meadows, author of Burghound.com, a highly respected and critically acclaimed quarterly publication that reaches subscribers in more than 60 countries and nearly all 50 states. Burghound.com was the first of its kind to offer specialized, exhaustive coverage of a specific wine region and grape, he and pioneered the on-line format. There are reviews of the wines of Burgundy and U.S. Pinot Noir, as well as coverage of Champagne. Subscribers have access to a fully searchable database of nearly 60,000 of Meadows’ tasting notes with recommended drinking windows for present day vintages all the way back to 1845. Meadows spends four months every year in Burgundy and visits more than 300 domaines during that time. He is also the author of “The Pearl of the Côte – The Great Wines of Vosne-Romanée.”

Q&A with Jean-Charles Boisset, of Boisset Family Estates

Founded in 1980, Boisset Family Estates is a family-owned producer and importer of fine wines with its roots in Burgundy, France. Boisset’s collection of more than twenty historical and unique wineries boast leading positions in the world’s pre-eminent terroirs, including Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhône Valley, the South of France, Canada, and California’s Russian River Valley and Napa Valley. Jean-Charles Boisset, President of Boisset Family Estates, has implemented sustainable, organic, and biodynamic farming practices at the family’s vineyards, while simultaneously introducing alternative packaging innovations that reduce a wine’s environmental impact and carbon footprint.

Q&A with Nicolas Mahler-Besse, CEO of Seguin-Moreau Cooperage, France

Seguin-Moreau is one of the premier cooperages in the world. Started as two different cooperages in the 1800s, they merged in 1972 to become a barrel powerhouse. Nicolas Mahler-Besse assumed the position of CEO of Seguin Moreau in 2011 and had worked for the last 14 years in the cooperage business for Radoux. Seguin-Moreau currently has more that 4,500 clients in 35 countries, making their domination of the cooperage business clearly evident

With three cooperages in Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa, do you foresee the need for other cooperages in emerging wine regions, and where might those be?

For the moment there is no plan to build new cooperages as we are already in the main wine locations, we’ll see how we grow then determine business in other areas.

The Ten Greatest Wines in the World

This time of year, many publications, writers and bloggers come out with their top ten wine lists for the year.  Recently, during a discussion of one of these lists, I was asked what the ten greatest wines were.  Before answering such a question, I needed to settle on my criteria for judging.  Was it the ten greatest in the past year?  Was it the ten greatest bottles which would include vintage?  What does greatest mean?  After some thought, here is what I came up with. 

First, I need to define great.  I don’t mean interesting, contemplative, unique.  I mean superlative.  I am talking about the kind of wine that makes everything stop as you taste it because it’s just so damn brilliant.  Also, I am interested in wines that are produced from year to year and are always (or almost always) great wines.  I will not consider one hit wonders.  I don’t need a long track record, but for example, the 1990 Château Beauséjour-Duffau was an incredible wine.  It is, however, so far above the usual quality of this wine that it would not be considered.

What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

The third Thursday in November is the date for a wine phenomenon each and every year.  “Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive” marks the worldwide marketing campaign for this unlikely wine.  What is Beaujolais Nouveau and how did we get here?

Under the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine regulations of France, wine released in the year the grapes were harvested must be labeled nouveau or vin (de) primeur.  Each AOC will determine the specific dates the wine may be released.  These wines are fruity wines that have just barely made the change from grape juice to wine.  They are made quickly, barely allowing time for the grapes to ferment.  Some versions are sweet as they have not completed their fermentations and still have some residual sugar. 

Wines to Go Buy This Week: Chateau Bonnet White Bordeaux and Clark-Claudon Cabernet Sauvignon

Wines to Go Buy This Week: A Crisp Summer White Blend by Chateau Bonnet and a Complex Napa Cabernet by Clark-Claudon Vineyards

Labor Day weekend is here and people across the US are gathering to toast the end of summer. As Labor Day marks the tipping point between hot summer nights and cool autumn evenings, my wine recommendations this week will focus on both a cool, refreshing summer sauvignon blanc to savor on these last days of summer and a full bodied Napa cabernet for those upcoming autumn evenings by the fireplace. So as we say farewell to summer 2011, here are two wines to go buy this week:

Chateau Bonnet LabelChateau Bonnett Entre-Deux-Mers Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Muscadelle Andre Lurton, 2010 - Now say that 5 times fast! A quick lesson for those of you who are unfamiliar with French wine: The French label their wines slightly different than we do in the US as they emphasize the place more so than the grape varietal or the producer. In this case, the vineyards and winery are located at Chateau Bonnet, the region is the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation of Bordeaux, the grapes are a blend of sauvignon blanc, semillon, and muscadelle, and the producer is André Lurton, whose family has presided over the vineyards for over 100 years. White Bordeaux is almost always a blend of primarily semillon and sauvignon blanc, with a few other varietals permitted. So why do I like this wine? It's light, crisp, low in alcohol (12%) and at approx $15 a bottle, a fantastic way to introduce yourself to a white bordeaux without breaking the bank. This wine is ideal for a warm end-of-summer picnic that calls for a cool refreshing beverage.

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