Palais Bourbon – National Assembly, Paris
We were in Oregon last week when the tragedy struck our beloved Paris. With hurting hearts and a need for comfort we drove around Gary’s hometown of Portland reminding ourselves of what is important and celebrating the little things we cherish in life like our love, our families, our Yoda and our freedoms.
As we head into this week of giving thanks, I challenge you to go outside of the norm for your Thanksgiving meal and toast to the French with one of their finest exports, their wine. Need some inspiration?
Below are a few of my favorite from throughout their beautiful country.
Vive la France.
sitting at a Paris cafe watching the world go by
Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut, Champagne, France – Classic Champagne from one of the finest houses in the region, Moet. Fresh and lively, blending Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier for a light, balanced and clean sparkler. Apple, yeasty fresh baked bread, almond and white flower notes with elegance and freshness.
Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé, Alsace, France –
Alsace has many beautiful wines to offer, from their dry Riesling to fragrant Pinot Blanc, but I love their classic sparklers, Cremant d’ Alsace. Since 1680 the Sparr
family has been producing premium refreshing and dry wines in Alsace, including their Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Produced in the traditional method with the second fermentation occurring in the bottle, the 100% Pinot Noir sparkler is aged a minimum of 1 year on the lees, making a ripe raspberry, strawberry, tangerine and creamy peach notes with structure and balance.
Goat Cheese of France
Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaudevey
– I am such a fan of steely, vibrant and elegant Chablis highlighting the very best of the Chardonnay variety. Fresh, racy and inviting, a quality Chablis will invite any Chardonnay lover to do their happy dance. One of my favorites is Domaine Laroche
with a selection of Chablis for almost every price range, starting at about $20 – $150. Their Domaine Laroche Chablis Les Vaudevey melds fresh citrus and tangy green apple with steely mineral and wet stone note for a slightly austere yet refined wine.
Pinot Noir vine
Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus, Beaune Premier Cru, Burgundy, France – an Old World wine for a New World palate seemlessly melding ripe, fruit forward notes with classic, earthy, Old World characteristics. Les Greves is one of the 44 Premier Cru of Beaune, Burgundy, noting the quality of the region and the terroir. Elegant, expressive and fleshy, ideal for Thanksgiving dinner pairing.
Domaine Ott Les Domaniers Cotes de Provence Rose, Provence, France
– Classic Provence Rose wine blending Cinsaut – Grenache – Syrah together for a light, highly aromatic wine with red berry, grapefruit, soft herbs, lavender and spice. Domaine Ott
is one of the premier wineries of the region, both for its beauty, but the elegance and grace of their wines. Located right by the Mediterranean, the wines also take on a touch of salty brininess from the Sea.
Loire River, France
Champlou Vouvray Sec, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France
– In the center of the expansive Loire Valley with the Loire River as its guide, in the Touraine region are Vouvray and Saumur. The region, with warm continental summers, is ideal for growing delicate, fresh and balanced Chenin Blanc, whether it be in a sweet or very dry style, as a still wine or a bubbly. Champlou
is a family owned and operated winery in Vouvray, producing wines of all styles from the variety. My favorite is their still, very dry, Champlou Vouvray Sec, hand picked from vines that are an average of 35 years old, fermented using native yeasts in stainless steel and left on the lees (yeasts) for 11 months. The process adds texture and depth to the wine, grown in mineralic clay and limestone soils, while keeping the wine fresh and luscious thanks to the use of stainless steel. Lovely, fragrant and refined, filled with white flowers, golden and green apple and passionfruit.
Vineyards of the Rhone Valley, France
Perrin Vacqueyras les Christins, Vacqueyras, Rhone, France
– I am a huge fan of wines from this part of the Southern Rhone, Vacqueryras, as the blended wine is dominant with approachable, food friendly Grenache, melding seemlessly with regional friends, Syrah and Morvedre. The garrigue (the fresh aromas of wild flowers and herbs that fill the French countryside) filled wine from Famillle Perrin
is earthy, rustic and yet refined with morello cherries, purple lilac and lavender flowers, crushed rock, graphite, pencil led and black licorice. The palate is filled with robust texture, and is rich and concentrated with a finish that requires multiple revists. Pair with smoked meat, lamb, roasted butternut squash, smoked turkey or pork belly.
Pic Saint-Loup, Languedoc, France
Ermitage du Pic Saint-Loup, Pic Saint-Loup, Languedoc, France
– Ermitage built their esteemed winery in land that had been used for sheep farming and cheese production for much of its existence. In 1992 the Ravaille brothers (Xavier, Pierre, and Jean-Marc) joined together for plant their vineyard under the watchful eye of the limestone peak or “pic” perched above the vineyards. Ermitage du Pic Saint-Loup
wines benefit from a microclimate of hot and dry summers, but a dramatic drop in temperatures and higher rainfall as fall approaches, allowing for long ripening of the grapes to ensure that the grapes picked capture both ripe fruit flavors as well as great acidity creating true reflection of the terroir. Ermitage du Pic Saint-Loup Rouge “Sainte Agnès” is filled with warm spice, dried black fruit and forest floor filled earthiness that is perfect upon release, but will also age nicely for years to come.
Chateau St. Georges, Bordeaux, France
Chateau St. Georges St. Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France
– From the sub-region of St Georges in St. Emilion, Bordeaux on the Right Bank (Merlot side of Bordeaux) comes the historic and elegant Chateau St. Georges
that’s history dates back to 1602, with the current family owning the gorgeous Chateau since 1891. Lush and lively, fresh yet refined, blending 80% Merlot with 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc for the 2011 release. A beautifully balanced wine with well integrated tannins, making this affordable Bordeaux a food friendly wine to enjoy upon release, pairing nicely with braised meat or pork dishes, but also standing up to hearty pasta, mushroom risotto or grilled venison.
Lassègue St. Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux, France – For the truest expression of refined, elegant and revered Cabernet Franc head to its home, the Right Bank of Bordeaux. Winemaker Pierre Seillan and his wife, Monique partnered with Jess Jackson and his bride, Barbara Banke in 2003 to purchase Chateau Lassègue in Saint Emilion, for a shared family project. With 40-50 year old vines planted in limestone filled soils, they found the vineyards give the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and touch (5%) of Cabernet Sauvignon minerality and earthy richness that defines great Grand Cru Bordeaux. The beautiful wine highlights what makes this region so special, creating a wine with expressive intensity and complexity, yet also a delicate elegance and well structured balance. Dried herbs, ripe plum and cherry, dark chocolate and espresso fill the palate of this powerful wine that is ready to drink upon release, but will continue to soften for years to come.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris