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The Cellar: French Values

Saturday, October 27, 2012

 

 

I am traveling in Europe this week, so instead of focusing on specific producers that you probably can’t find, I’d like to focus on two wine regions where I think there are good values to be had. This week’s wines are from the two French wine regions Muscadet and Côtes du Rhône.

2009 Chateau du Poyet, Muscadet Sevre et Maine, France

One of the best white wine values in the current market place is the wines from Muscadet. If you are into light, crisp and refreshing white wines and are looking for something different, and often cheaper, than

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Italian Pinot Grigio, I suggest you try a zesty Muscadet. Muscadet is a place—a wine region located in the western part of France’s cool Loire Valley. The grape that makes this wine, called Melon de Bourgogne, was brought to the region by 17th century Dutch merchants who were looking for a base grape to make their traditional brandy called ‘brennevin’. In terms of natural flavors Melon de Bourgogne is one of the more neutral tasting grapes. This makes what happens in the vineyard and winery extra important when looking to make something special out of it. The practice of leaving portions of the wine on the dead yeast cells after fermentation is called ‘Sur Lie’. This process increases the complexity of the wine and gives the body a boost. The area most famous for making this style of Muscadet is located around the rivers Sevre and Marne southeast of Nantes.

The folks at Chateau du Poyet located in the Sevre et Maine sub-region of Muscadet only make two wines, their entry-level Muscadet and a ‘Grand Clos’ Muscadet. I recently had their $10 entry-level example and what a medium-bodied treat it was, displaying ripe peaches, zesty lemon juice, alongside great minerality.

2008 Chapelle-St-Arnoux Côtes Du Rhône Séguret, France

If you are an avid wine drinker I am sure you have had your fair share of red wine labeled Côtes du Rhône. I like these everyday wines as most of them fall in that comfortable $10-$20 range and are fairly easy

to drink often displaying bright fruit and spice in a medium body. While red Côtes du Rhônes are almost always based on the grape varietals Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah, white Côtes du Rhônes are usually blends that include some or all of the grape varietals Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Clairette.

Côtes du Rhônes come at different quality levels. Most of what we consume here in the US is simply labeled Côtes du Rhône. The wines from this generic AOC can come from (or can be a blend of) an area that cover more 200,000 vineyard acres and stretches over 170 towns and villages. Should you ever want to know what the step up tastes like try to ask your wine merchant for a Côtes du Rhône-Villages. A Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a wine made from grapes sourced from one or more of 95 specific villages known for growing grapes of higher quality. It's a step up in quality and you’ll find Côtes du Rhônes that display the Villages name on the label. This level is reserved for about 20 villages that cover a combined 16,000 acres of vineyards. The grapes and wine must have been grown and bottled in the village under which it is labeled. The rules and regulations for making these wines are even stricter. This makes for denser and more concentrated wines. Séguret is one of those villages with topnotch winemaking conditions that has been making great wines for centuries.

Enjoy!!

Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at srasch@golocalprov.com. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook and sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.

 

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