France: Articles on French Wine & Wine Regions

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. 

Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – The Pinnacle of Pinot Noir

France's Burgundy Wine Region: A Primer on the History, Wines, Vineyards & Terroir contains an excellent introduction into the ethereal wine of one of the most famous wine producing regions.  No winery is more famous, or produces such legendary wines in Burgundy than Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.  Often abbreviated as DRC, the winery makes some of the most exclusive and expensive wines in the world.  They are, for those lucky enough to have tried them, the pinnacle of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. 

Q&A with Jean-Michel Cazes of Château Lynch-Bages

Château Lynch-Bages has become one of the most celebrated wineries in France. Château Lynch-Bages located in Pauillac on the left bank in the Medoc Château Lynch-Bages is an 1855 classified Fifth Growth. Since 1973 it has been owned by the enigmatic Jean-Michel Cazes and is now run by his son, Jean-Charles. Jean-Michel Cazes assumed the management of his family’s properties including Château Lynch Bages, Les Ormes de Pez, and Villa Bel Air in Bordeaux, Xisto in Portugal and Tapanappa in Australia. Jean-Michel Cazes has been awarded France’s highest honor, La Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, Decanter Magazine’s Man of the Year, and the Institute of Masters in Wine awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Fundamentally, what are the differences between old world and new world wines?

Differences between wine regions originate in differences in soils, grades varietals and mainly climate, or rather different combinations of these key factors. There are many different styles of wine around the world, old or new. But I am convinced that old world wines benefit from a long history and experience.

Q&A with Georges Duboeuf, Founder of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf

Georges Duboeuf is practically a legend. Originally from the Pouilly-Fuissé region of Burgundy, Duboeuf was raised on a small farm where his family owned a few acres of Chardonnay vines. His father died when Georges was young, therefore his uncle and older brother, Roger, took over the business. Duboeuf helped out on the family vineyard growing up, even using the manual grape crusher when he was just six years old. By age 18 he was delivering wine on his bicycle from producers to local restaurants. He began bottling Beaujolais to meet one of his customer's demands. Duboeuf became a négociant in 1964, when he founded Les Vins Georges Duboeuf. He is best known for Beaujolais Nouveau, though he produces many others. His wines now hold world-wide appeal and are sold in an astonishing 120 countries.

The Vouvray Region of France's Loire Valley: The Home of Chenin Blanc

France’s Loire Valley, is home to many great wines including the region of Vouvray, the home of Chenin Blanc.  While Chenin Blanc wines are made around the world, perhaps nowhere else makes such distinctive and wonderful wines from that grape as the Loire Valley.  The Loire Valley is in northeastern France and Vouvray is located east of the city of Tours along the right bank of the Loire River.

Languedoc, France Vintage Chart

Languedoc, France    
2009 93 D/H
2008 89 D/H

Cabernet Franc (and other Reds), Loire Valley, France Vintage Charts

Cabernet Franc (and other Reds),  Loire Valley, France    
2009 93 D/H
2008 87

Muscadet, Loire Valley, France Vintage Chart

Muscadet,  Loire Valley, France    
2009 92 D/H
2008 89 D
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