French Wine Series: Sessions 2 & 3

March 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm (class, French Wine) (, , , , , , )

We just finished up the final session in our French series last night. And what a way to end it, focusing on the wines of Bordeaux and Champagne! Two heavy hitting regions that can be rather intimidating, we wanted to provide an overview of the terroir, the grapes used, how the wines are made, and important information for buying wines from these areas. And we wanted to open wines that would demonstrate the variety that each region has to offer! The wines we poured were:

2006 Chateau Guiraud-Cheval-Blanc ‘Cotes de Bourg’, Gironde, Bordeaux, France
Right Bank, Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Malbec

2003 Chateau Clerc Milon ‘Grand Cru Classe’, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Left Bank, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc

2005 Chateau Teyssier ‘Saint-Emilion Grand Cru’, Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France
Right Bank, Merlot/Cabernet Franc

2000 Launois Pere & Fils ‘Grand Cru’ Brut Blanc de Blancs, Mesnil-sur-Oger, Champagne, France

NV Godmé Pere et Fils ‘Grand Cru’ Brut Blanc de Noirs, Verzenay, Champagne, France
Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier

NV Paul Bara ‘Grand Cru’ Brut Grand Rosé, Bouzy, Champagne, France
Pinot Noir/Chardonnay

And in the previous class, on Burgundy, Beaujolais, and Rhone, we opened:

2007 Jean-Paul Brun ‘Terres Dorees’ Beaujolais Blanc, Chardonnay
2007 Jean-Paul Thevenet ‘Morgon Vielles Vignes’, Gamay

2007 Jean-Marc Brocard ‘Chablis 1er Cru Montmains’, Chardonnay
2002 Domaine Parent ‘Corton Grand Cru’, Chardonnay
2000 Ghislaine Barthod ‘1er Cru Aux Beaux Bruns’, Chambolle-Musigny, Pinot Noir

2006 Les Grand Maisons, Mauricette et Christian Facchin Condrieu, Viognier
2003 Domaine la Mirande Rouge, Chateauneuf du Pape ‘Vielles Vignes’, Grenache blend

If I could impart one thing I learned from this class about French wine, it would be this: know your producer. As terroir focused as France is, none of that matters unless you have a competent and respectful winemaker at the helm. The best producers we’ve found are the small guys who take the time and expend the care to create wines that truly speak of the land: the ones able to make several passes through the vineyard at harvest in Savennieres, to pick only the ripest Chenin Blanc grapes off the vine; the ones in Champagne who own sorting tables, and actually use them; the ones in Alsace who keep yields several hectoliters below what they’re required too…these are the winemakers you want to seek out. Because no matter how good the land is, the winemaker is the mediator of its expression, and ultimately determines it.

Stay tuned for our next series: Italy!!

posted by Jane


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