France is Promoting Some Unexpected Wines. Here Are a Few the Wine Trade Hopes Will Catch On
One doesn’t think of the French wine industry needing to promote itself that much—after all, how much does Kleenex need to advertise that they make facial tissue? But with the explosive appreciation of wines from countries like Chile, Portugal and South Africa not to mention Spain and Italy, France certainly must be feeling a bit jilted over its premiere export. Which was probably the inspiration for the Exposeo group’s Delicious Wine Tour, bringing dozens of underexposed French wineries to NY and LA in hopes of arriving next at your nearest wine bar.
Remarkably, there are still many French wine producers, and even varietals, that are little known in the US. For wine lovers in search of the new and noteworthy, that could mean some perfectly contrarian chic cuvées. But let’s be Franc: if they are to gain appreciation in a crowded, competitive market, they have to be outstanding. Most presented at the LA event, like Domaine Jean Gleizes Colombet Rouge (strong cherry and blackcurrant notes buoyed by smooth tannins) were marketed more for value than viniculture.
But a few stood out enough to compete with the stunning views of The Tower hotel’s penthouse function room. Among the more worthy reds were Chateau Roc Meynard’s Bordeaux Superieur (90% Merlot with %5 each of Cab Sauvignon and Cab Franc), a light, dry red with tobacco & leather notes on the finish and similar Chateau Guionne Cuvée Rennaissance 04 (40% Malbec, 40% Merlot, 20% Cab); Caves Fleury Leo Vinis ’09, a 75/250 Cab/Merlot blend with rich but smooth notes of cherry and beef; Dom Haut-Lirou Pic St. Loup ’08, full of rich, big fruit, but smooth tannins and a dry finish.
On the other end of the range were the wines of Coteaux du Langeudoc, allegedly the oldest winery locale in France, all of which had a peculiar nose which, let’s just say, is a bit more challenging for the American palate.
Two Rosés were of interest, the lemony Mas du Notaire Rosé ‘08 AOC Costières de Nîmes, and the pear-noted unoaked Syrah-Grenache blend Domaine du Mas Bécha ‘09 Rosé, Vignoble du Roussillon, Elevage Classique
More interesting, though, were several bold whites—particularly those of Domaine de Papolle, including the ’09 Sauvignon, with tart crisp apple, peach and citrus, reminiscent of an Albariño (which the wine rep claimed he’d never tasted!) as well as the sweet, round and light Gros Manseng,(honey-nectarine notes with a chardonnay finish) and sweeter oaky-honey-nut Petit Manseng, dessert wine.
But probably most impressive were the Champagnes of Jacquinot et Fils, a small producer in Epernay with nice product up and down the range. Their private cuvée (non-vintage) is 70% Chard, 30% Pinot Noir, with full fruit and small creamy bubbles; the ’99 vintage is drier, and excellent for pairing; the rose has a stronger Pinot nose with a lemony palate and peppery finish. And the ’95 Brut was a richer more complex vintage, which would pair excellently with foie gras or charcuterie. Considering suggested retail prices all safely in double-digits, these are bottles well worth seeking out.