Bonjour and welcome to this month’s article on wine. We’ve just got back from a holiday in France and I thought I would write about our trip.
Unusually for us we didn’t visit one vineyard (too far away), however we did sample plenty of wine, whilst sitting outside our luxury medieval style tent at Melusine Camping situated in the Deux-Sevres region. Now, I have a confession to make… me and French wine do not get on! Obviously I have no problems drinking it - the problem comes in knowing what I’m actually drinking.
French wine for years has been a mystery unto itself, as usually there is no indication on the label as to what it actually is. This is due to the French ‘system’ which is based on regions. Drink a red from Burgundy and it’ll be a Pinot Noir, from the Loire Valley it’ll be Cabernet Franc and from Bordeaux it’ll be a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend - or Claret as they tend to be known in the UK.
Of course as a consumer you have to know all of this, as there are none of those handy tasting notes on the labels of French wines - or so I thought. It looks like the French wine makers are starting to accept there’s a market out there beyond France and are labelling their wines appropriately.
When you are next in France, head for the nearest CarreFour supermarket. They are brilliant, with lots of fresh produce and large wine sections. You’ll find very little wine from outside France, so you have to have an idea of what to go for. Don’t shop on price; wine for 1 Euro a bottle sounds good, but in my opinion it rarely is!
One of my best buys of the week was a Côtes du Rhône, bought purely based on the description of the grape varieties it contained. These were Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Cinsault, which as we now know are the main red grape varieties from the Rhône Valley region. So now that we’re back home, we’ve been looking on the supermarket shelves, and it looks like you’ll nearly always find an example of this type of wine. If the label says Côtes du Rhône Villages it should be a better quality one.
Winery: Chat-en-Oeuf from Cotes du Ventoux
Region: Southern Rhone
Grape: 70% Granache, 30% Syrah
Alcohol Strength: 14%
Bouquet: Red cherries, raspberries and pepper.
Flavour: Warming and spicy red with lovely ripe berry flavours and soft tannin finish.
Price: Around £5
Available: Waitrose, Morrisons