As 2020 approaches we find out which are the most exciting wines from France to enjoy during the festive season and beyond
Nicholas Jones, head buyer and winemaker at online wine club Winebuyers shares his tips on the new trends in French wine and how to choose the best bottles to impress.
Are we seeing any new trends in French wine?
From the sommeliers to the indie wine shops there has been a consistent love of the wines of Jura and a rising in the favour of Beaujolais.
The former’s attraction is its propensity to food matching, with its whites and ‘yellow wines’ often seen aged under flor yeast, you can expect saline, savoury and rich wines.
The reds from this region, with a particular emphasis on Trousseau, can be on the lighter side in body, but beguiling and very complex.
Albeit a struggling region, Beaujolais offers some legendary winemakers that have got the ‘natural’ wine thing right. There has been a resurgence of favour in the region that has been spurred on by the natural wine craze.
Is there a French wine that is always a crowd-pleaser?
The big appellation names sing true with their renowned names preceding them before a cork is even popped, Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy will likely not fall from favour for a long time yet.
What should we consider when choosing a French wine to pair with food?
Encapsulating France with its plethora of regions, grape varieties, winemakers and climactic differences is a tall ask. There are so many variables at play across this country and this gives rise to wines for every occasion, whatever the weather.
Winter nights and meaty centrepieces require robust reds stemming from the regions of Roussillon and Rhône that can pack a punch, match up to protein well and warm the cockles.
Michel Dupont Fahn – Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, £10.80 per bottle
Michel Dupont-Fahn has prominent holdings in Meursault and sites across the rest of the Côte de Beaune. His project in Languedoc draws fewer eyes, but the success can’t be argued. The winemaking talent is betrayed by the wine’s long finish and its earthy nature speaks of the Languedoc, evidence of why this is thought of as the French New World.
Getting in the Christmas spirit
Vin doux naturel (heavier) and Ratafia de Champagne (lighter) – pair off with pudding or have a small glass to settle the stomach after a decadent meal.
Vignerons Catalans – Banyuls Rimage 2013, £17.64 per bottle
Little lifts the spirit like wine with spirit. Step forward vin doux naturel; this Banyuls from Pyrenean France will flatter any dark or dried fruit dessert but perhaps it’s more appropriate to chocolate in front of a film.
To pair with vegetarian dishes
Clos Cibonne Tradition Côtes de Provence Cru Classé Rosé 2016, £28 per bottle
For light vegetarian dishes, or next year’s heatwave, opt for a Provence rosé. I would go old school with this from Clos Cibonne – rosé can be serious after all and this is worth every penny.
Ready for asparagus season
If you haven’t celebrated this time of year in spring before you have a bit of time to plan. Classically aligned with the similar aromatics to be found in classically made Sancerre, or Vouvray if a more affordable route is needed.
Francois Crochet Sancerre 2018, £22.50 per bottle
This example of Sancerre has the tension that marks Sancerre. The sauvignon fruit here, even in a powerful vintage, balanced by the wines like zest and flintiness. Currently organic and in conversion to biodynamics, François is one of the newer faces of the appellation and his reputation in France is only now spreading across the Channel.
Winebuyers is a new wine club that lets its customers buy wine at the same price direct from the vineyard, with no fee to join.
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