1-Petite Sauvage 2019 Sauvignon Blanc- Touraine AOC-France Video
A relatively well-known Loire white, this example offers a baby step into what many consider to be the apex of Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre). Pouring a delicate pale straw hue, the nose offers citrus, herbs, and the quintessential minerality associated with Loire. The palate is light-bodied with zippy acidity, full of ripe citrus and vegetal notes with slight granite-driven earthiness. As you might expect, pair this with shrimp and you are in for a treat.
2-Bonpas 2018 ‘Legende de Bonpas’ Luberon-Luberon AOC- France Video
At the very Southeastern portion of the Rhone valley lies the Luberon region, which showcases a more Mediterranean climate in comparison to the rest of Rhone. As such, harvest takes place relatively late, yielding fragrant, ripe wines. The ‘Legende de Bonpas’ is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Clairette and Bourboulenc; representing key, but somewhat niche varietals in Rhone. This wine pours a medium yellow with white hues. The nose offers stone and tropical fruits accented by delicate floral notes. The palate is light-bodied with restrained acidity, and features ripe, but tasteful stone fruit and floral notes. This screams oysters or other shellfish.
3-Cave de Vignerons de Saumur 2018 ‘Les Pouches’- Saumur AOC- France Video
Like our example from a couple of months ago, this Loire Cabernet Franc comes from the Saumur region, which serves as both one of many dry red and white hubs within Loire but also as the primary source for grapes for use in Cremant de Loire. The ‘Les Pouches’ is a more daily-drinker friendly version of this style. It pours a gorgeous deep ruby hue, with earthy and savory bell pepper notes dancing around fragrant raspberry and cherry aromas. The body is full, with soft tannins and lively acidity. The same ripe fruits remain, now accented by earth, savory spice, and black pepper. This is an excellent BBQ wine, and would even be a candidate for an excellent chilled red.
4-Chateau Bonnet 2016 Rouge- Bordeaux AOC- France Video
When you think Bordeaux, particularly red Bordeaux, you might think of bouts between wine critics, absurdly expensive bottles, and waiting decades to try a wine. The reality is, however, that there are plenty of accessible wines from this region; and they are more than worth trying. Many of these use grapes from all over or from the higher-production areas of Southern Bordeaux. Chateau Bonnet utilizes the prior, being an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This sees no oak, and comes across as a fresh, green representation of the region at large. The wine pours a medium ruby with deep purple hues. The nose offers a blend of ripe strawberry, some slight herbaceous notes, anise, and licorice notes. The texture is medium-bodied with medium acid and softer, woody tannins. The fruit on the palate is fresh and tart, supplemented by slight peppery notes. Try this with a lighter red meat or heavier seafood like salmon.
5-Laurent Chardigny 2018 Bourgogne- Bourgogne AOC- France Video
Like Bordeaux, Burgundy is often associated with hilariously expensive wines and wine fraud (Sour Grapes anyone?) Additionally, much of the Burgundy available in the US is brought to market by negociants (companies or buyers who label bottles of wine made by smaller producers) which has added to a pervasive stigma when it comes to buying more affordable examples. However, some producers are able to directly export delicious, affordable examples such as Laurent Chardigny. With grapes (Pinot Noir) sourced near the legendary vineyards Nuits-Saints-George and Gevrey Chambertin, this red offers quality aspects of wines orders of magnitude more expensive. This wine pours a dark ruby with brighter red hues, and offers aromas of red berries, earth, tea leaves, and wet stone. The palate is medium-bodied with woody tannins and medium acidity- offering rich, fresh cherry and plum notes supplemented by fine minerality and spice. This wine screams for game like venison, bison, or quail.
6-Domaine La Manarine 2018 Cotes du Rhone Rouge-Cotes du Rhone AOC- France Video
Cotes du Rhone has been featured on many of our recent lists; as such, you might be concerned about burnout- but you shouldn’t be. The amount of variety contained just within Cotes du Rhone is absurd, with near endless amounts of permissible grape varieties and varying terroirs. Domaine La Manarine’s vineyards rest on a key geological contributor to Southern Rhone’s terroir- smooth, large limestone pebbles called ‘galets’, which assist in expedited drainage and retention of heat during the night and the dreaded ‘mistral’ winds that regularly devastate Rhone and Provence. One of the results? Their scrumptious Cotes du Rhone Rogue. This wine is made of 100% Grenache, and utilizes absolutely no oak, but still results in a rich, ripe treat. This wine pours a dark ruby with nearly no transparency. The nose offers delicious raspberry, plum, sweet baking spice, and rose hips. The palate is heavy-bodied, with sweet tannins and balanced acid. These ripe fruit notes continue through the palate with slight earthy notes that bring balance to the whole package. Try this with lamb, venison, or maybe a hearty red meat-driven stew.
7-Mas des Volques Duches d’Uzes ‘Volcae’- Duches d’Uzes AOC-France Video
From winemaker Nicolas Souchon and consultant Phillipe Cambie, the Volcae is a vision of a Chateauneuf du Pape-style blend in an unorthodox appellation. Duches d’Uzes is a relatively new AOC (2013) located in Southern Rhone towards the Western side. Unlike much of Southern Rhone, this region largely avoids the Mistral winds and experiences a more Mediterranean climate. Additionally, there is increased use of ‘Mediterranean’ varietals such as Carignan. This blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan, provides both the tertiary notes of Rhone with the fruit you would expect from a warmer climate. The nose offers red and black fruits, espresso, and hints of tar. The palate is richly-full bodied with firm tannins and balanced acid, while offering rich plum and blueberry notes, dark chocolate, and granite-driven minerality. Like many rich reds, steak is likely the way to go, but something earthier like a mushroom-driven dish would also work well.
8-Chateau Cap L’Ousteau 2015 Haut Medoc- Haut Medoc AOC-France Video
The second of our featured Bordeaux wines for the month, this comes Haut-Medoc, south of all of it’s more famous neighbors in Margaux. Unlike its neighbors, Haut-Medoc-based chateaus are generally more adventurous in their use of Bordeaux varieties, and often incorporate all or most of the five* into their wines, like our example. This wine is mostly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also imparts significant portions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. This wine pours a deep ruby with slight maroon hues, indicating age. The nose is complex, with wonderful tertiary notes of oak, black pepper, and bell pepper accented by blue and black fruits. The body is full, with medium plus tannins and acid balancing between ripe fruits and savory espresso and spice notes. This is a complex drink, and needs something with a ton of umami to effectively compliment it.