If you haven’t been drinking the wines of France lately, now is the time to revisit! So many of the classic “international” varieties, planted and producing wines around the world, are of French origin. Though you can find these varieties in hundreds of other regions, the French have always led the way in showcasing the essence of place and the true character of each of these varieties. Let’s raise a glass and toast the French! #Cheers
The Provence region is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world, and one of the finest. Wine production was first introduced over 2600 years ago. Though through those years the region by the sea has crafted wines of every style and color, today the sunshine-filled region is celebrated for its aromatic, alluring Rosé wines. From the hills of Aix-en-Provence, Maison Saint Aix crafts its AIX Rosé ($20), showcasing the terroir. Blending Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault, with a whisper of a pink coral color, the fragrant wine opens with layers of orange blossom, lavender, and soft herbs, followed by flavors of white peach, ripe apricot, golden melon, and ripe red berries. Inviting and easy, the perfect wine to enjoy with spring vegetable dishes, fresh seafood, and shellfish, or simply on its own.
Slightly smoky, mineral-driven, and juicy, the Sauvignon Blanc wines of Loire Valley are some of the most beautiful expressions of the fruit produced in France. The limestone and silex-filled soils reveal a smoky character that sets Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc apart from the rest, particularly those produced in Sancerre, Pouilly-Fume, and other regions of Centre-Loire moving west into Touraine. J de Villebois Touraine Sauvignon Blanc ($18) is a blend of vineyard blocks overlooking the Cher Valley, a tributary of the Loire River, rich with flintstone-filled soils. Crisp, clean, and refreshing, the wine leaps from the glass with inviting aromas of lemon-lime, white flowers, and soft herbs, leading to a mineral-driven palate that is ideal paired with goat cheese, oysters, fresh crab, or spring pea risotto.
Spread out over three-thousand acres in the Northern Rhone region of France, surrounding the prestigious Hermitage appellation, Crozes-Hermitage delivers incredible quality for a great price, showcasing the earthy, spicy Syrah variety as it is the only red variety allowed in the region, sometimes blended with touches of white Rhone favorites, Roussanne and Marsanne. Crafted from 100% Syrah Maison Les Alexandrins Crozes-Hermitage ($33) showcases lush notes of wild berry and sour cherry, melding seamlessly with notes of toasted spice, anise, dried herbs, and subtle touches of smoke.
Bordeaux wine does not need to cost a fortune. Dotted throughout the river region you can find stellar Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based wines that deliver high quality without breaking the bank. Chateau Bois Redon Bordeaux Superieur ($15) reveals just this with their Cabernet Sauvignon dominant Bordeaux blend. Juicy and rich, layering red and black cherry, ripe plum, and red berry, with a touch of dried leaves, leather, and tobacco, with a nice freshness melding acidity with tannin. An easy wine to enjoy every day.
The Right Bank of Bordeaux is the softer side but produces my favorite Bordeaux wines leading with Cabernet Franc and Merlot varieties. Within this region is Fronsac, an area dedicated to producing wines sustainably, with a nod to caring for the environment to allow the terroir to shine through each wine. Wines combine finesse with liveliness, with red fruit aromas enriched with toasted spice, woody herb, and savory notes of earth and truffle. Full-bodied and generous wines, their tannic structure combines richness with elegance. Chateau de la Huste ($26) opens with sweet berry, dried tobacco, crushed stone, and black olive with full-body, dense chewy tannins. Slightly austere, allow to open a bit before enjoying, and pair with roasted quail or poultry, roasted pork loin or game meats, or even red and blackberry tarts or chocolate desserts.