|Sud Ouest, France|
Outside of Champagne, traditional sparkling wines are called Crémant. They may or may not be made with traditional grapes, and can be very interesting variations from traditional Champagne. There are some other areas within France that do not carry the Crémant name. These areas typically make both a still and sparkling version of wine, so just go by the AOC name.
This week I conducted a wine tasting of "other French wines". The idea was to move away from the mainstream grapes and regions, and try something different....and to keep the bottle price under $20 (usually difficult for French wines). I served six wines, from some of the regions mentioned above.
The first wine was a sparkling wine: Vincent Raimbault NV Brut Vouvray. This wine comes from the Loire (Touraine district) and is made from 100% Chenin Blanc. Made in the traditional method, this straw colored wine, was bright, clean and has refreshing acidity. Aromas of lemon, grapefruit and flowers.
Next was a Rosé from the Rhone region of Tavel: Mordoree 2011 Cotes du Rhone Rose La Dame Rousse. This full bodied, dry Rose was 40% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Cinsault (and the rest Carignan and Mourvedre). Lots of strawberry and cherry, and savory, spice character, with a certain amount of earthiness.The finish was a bit bitter, and turned off some of the tasters, but others loved it.
The first red wine of the tasting was the Chateau du Cedre 2007 Cahors. Cahors is located in South West France just north of Toulouse. This is an ancient Roman wine producing region with evidence of vines being planted as early as 50 BC. The Cahors AOC produces red wines made with the Malbec grape (known locally as Cot or Auxerrois). Yes, Malbec was growing in France before it made a name for itself in Argentina. I would put this wine somewhere between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot. Nice plum, cherry, and cocoa aromas, and moderate tannins.
The last red wine was very young, and required pouring through an aerator. The wine was Bernard Baudry 2010 Chinon Les Grezeaux. Chinon is the commune, in the Touraine district of the Loire, for Cabernet Franc, and an excellent value at only $22. The wine was bottled un-fined and un-filtered after spending 12 months in neutral oak (but did have a definite oak presence on the nose). It was full-bodied and probably should be held another 5 years before opening.
So, the next time you are talking French wine, remember that not all good wines cost $60 to $3,000. Sure they are great wines, but you can also find some very good (and different) wines from some of the lesser known regions of France. Continue to explore and try...there are great finds out there!