A Virtual tour of French Wine

Dec 1st, 2011 Jayne Pearce

I recently hosted a PTA Auction French wine tasting for parents who were willing to part with some cash (for a good cause) in exchange for a virtual wine tour down through France. As a bonus I decided to do a spot of food matching at the same time.

I started off with a reliable bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut and some not-so-French Sushi. The acidity from the Champagne balanced nicely with the fishiness of it all. Veuve Clicquot is a great champagne if you’re seeking a generic medium to full bodied bubbly that can work with different types of appetizers. It has enough of the biscuit, citrus and honey to complement many dishes. (Wine - $45 K&L wines).

After the fizz we travelled down to Burgundy and to the commune named Chardonnay in the Macon where this fine grape probably originated from. The Clos de La Crochette 2009 is a medium bodied dry wine with butterscotch and white pepper on the nose and minerality, crisp acidity, apples, citrus and a little spice on the palate. The malo-lactic and some oak gave it a pleasant creamy mouth-feel. I served a homemade recipe of tarragon cream and dijon mustard chicken skewers that seemed to go very well as there was sufficient acidity to cut through the clingy nature of the cream. (Wine - $40 Vino, Vin, Wine)

I decided to hang around in Burgundy - specifically Cote de Nuits Vosne Romanee - for some vintage 2000 Pinot Noir from Antonin Rodet. I’ve had this single bottle in my collection for a while and was concerned how it had held up over the years of travel and neglect. Fortunately, it performed perfectly as a good example of how old world Pinot should be after 11 years - still some raspberry and red fruits but much of it has given way to those distinctive farmyard aromas and subtle spice which is hard to replicate over here in California. I served this translucent ruby - verging on rust - hued Pinot with some duck (of course), a drizzle of balsamic raspberry and melted brie pain rounds -another homemade recipe. There was enough acidity in the wine to handle the vinegar whilst there was still sufficient tannin - albeit soft - to work with the duck. That said, this wine could have been equally enjoyed on it’s own. (Wine - $43 equiv. UK merchant).

It seemed only fitting to hop over to Bordeaux to sample our next red and, in this case, the right bank Merlot-dominant claret. The 2001 St Emilion Larmande Grand Cru Classe has 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and only %% Cabernet Sauvignon. The inky appearance was showing some development, giving way to a blackberry and cherry nose and a fabulous mouthfeel on the palate with nice chunky tannins. The blackcurrant and cherry liqueur worked well with the tobacco and vanilla. This very refined wine was sampled alongside some mint marinated lamb, courgette and camembert quesadillas. (Wine - $40 K&L)

Gigondas is my all-time favourite Southern Rhone appellation so we headed down to the Mediterranean and to Domaine Du Cayron 2006 to sample this great wine - I wasn’t disappointed. This Gigondas was a typical Rhone blend of 70% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 14% Cinsault and 1% Mourvedre so was full-bodied to the hilt. The nose was complex and poetic showing some herbaceous such as basil, sage, peppermint as well as stewed cherry and a hint of licorice and even potpourri. The cherry came across on the palate as well as some tangy white stone fruit. The low acidity of the Grenache and the slight tannin grip made it a good partner with beef meatballs. (Wine - $30 equiv. Uk merchant).


I wanted to finish off the tasting with a sweetie but nothing too heavy to knock everyones taste buds out. I opted for a late harvest Petit Manseng from the Jurançon appellation in the South West of France. This 2004 sweet ‘doux’ (>45g/l) styled wine from Domaine De Cabarrouy had a wonderful brass coloured appearance and an aromatic nose that revealed citrus and candied orange zest.  This continued through to the palate with an aromatic richness as well as cinnamon which balanced well with the high acidity.  With food and wine matching I am all for the simple guiding principle of matching foods and wine that are “like-for-like.” With this advice I went for a lemon tart where the tanginess of the fruits matched perfectly and the fullness of the pastry worked with the depth of the flavours. (Wine - $15 from the vineyard).

So, all in all we covered a few thousand miles in our 2CV and managed to eat, drink and be merry without risking a fine and attempting French prose. This has to be the way to travel. Au revoir and bon nuit.

Read the previous post: Sonoma Chardonnay for my Thanksgiving Turkey

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