Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A French Four-Pack for the Freezin' Season

It’s cold and dreary. The sun barely peeks out – and when it does, it’s not much of a help warming things up. These are richer food days, my friends. For me, richer food calls for wine with a backbone of earth – and that leads me instinctively to one place – France.

My French wine palate perks up in the winter, because these wines go so nicely with foods that have some heft to them. Butter, mushrooms, rich meats and root veggies – French wine is a lovely accompaniment to those sorts of flavors, generally.

(Now, I admit – I do try to cook in at least a reasonably healthy manner. It’s not beef bourguignon every night of the week, and what I and the SPinC consider rich these days might be a bit of a stretch. But we feel like it’s rich – so there.)

The good folks at Bourgeois Family Selections – one of my favorite importers of reasonably-priced French wine – recently sent along a four pack of their latest offerings. Bourgeois does a good job finding solid biodynamic and sustainable wines. We knocked the chill off our bones and cracked these over the period of a week or so. Here’s what we found:

Domaine des Gerbeaux 2012 “Le Clos” Macon-Solutre – Macon-Solutre is an area in Southern Burgundy. You may have seen “Macon-Villages” – which is a Chardonnay made from particular areas within the Macon region. Solutre is one of those areas. The specific name of a village on a wine usually connotes a higher quality of juice, and this was no exception. This wine reminded me of lemon custard – rich and citrusy on the nose and body, but the finish leans out into a grapefruity, minerally denoument that becomes more pronounced as it gets some air. There’s a hint of smokiness, as well – even though this is an unoaked wine. I liked this quite a bit. You should find it for around $17-20.

Chateau Les Ancres 2010 Bordeaux – Bordeaux, especially most value-priced Bordeaux, tends to be made with a backbone of merlot. This one is no exception – it’s about 2/3 Merlot, with the rest mostly Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s 2% Cabernet Franc to round it out. This wine really needs decanting – since at first sip, there’s very little flavor. Have patience with this one. It started with a light flavor of blackberry and cocoa, widened out across the midpalate with some nice smoke and earth, and then landed with a tannic bag of hammers on the back of my tongue. Once it opens up, there’s a surprising richness to it. With stews, superb, especially for $11-13. And it goes better with chocolate than many Bordeaux.

Chateau La Faviere 2009 Bordeaux Superieur – “Bordeaux Superieur” is a wine sourced from grapes grown anywhere in Bordeaux, but the process of the winemaking is a little different. The reds with that moniker have somewhat higher alcohol contents, are aged a little longer, and tend to be a littlemore complex than standard Bordeaux. This wine, however, I didn’t get a chance to write many notes on. The SPinC and I opened this before a dinner of roasted chicken in a tarragon and butter sauce, and it was a splendid accompaniment. So splendid, in fact, that we got to talking and laughing – and the next thing we knew, we’d killed off the prettily embossed bottle. Take that for what it’s worth. I’d snag this again for around $15.

Domaine de Chateaumar 2012 “Cuvee Bastien” Cotes-du-Rhone – I’ll admit to looking a little askance at the name of this wine. Cotes-du-Rhone are generally blends, known as cuvees – usually made up largely of varying amounts of Syrah and Grenache. This wine, however, is 100% Grenache – so I assume it’s Grenache from a number of different vineyards. I enjoyed the difference. This is a somewhat lighter-styled Cotes-du-Rhone which I can imagine flexibly working with almost any food pairing. Nice plum and berry flavors with enough weight and structure to be interesting. We had this alongside a pecan-crusted trout with sautéed cabbage with a cream sauce, and it worked quite nicely. Again, recommended at $13-15.

Stay warm out there! 

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