Recently, the market report for the wine industry captured attention across the United States with the bold headline, “United States now #1 in wine consumption.” For the first time, Americans have passed France as the leading consumers of wine, showing that Americans have truly gained a taste and a love for the beverage that has also shaped the French culture and economy for centuries. French winemakers have inspired others across the world with their winemaking innovations, so what “aha” wine moments will we have during our “Tour de France” tasting?
Two white wines especially sparked our customer’s attention. The first was the Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc. This wine comes from the Loir Valley, a place well known for its Sancerre region which produces the famous French style of Sauvignon Blanc. Though light and refreshing, this wine also had some body to it and a mineral taste that would make this a perfect complement to oysters on the half shell. We then moved east to the Burgundy region, an area known for its production of Pinot noirs and Chardonnays. Montagny, provided the seemingly impossible: an affordable white Burgundy. With world famous villages like Meursault and Montrachet, the Burgundy region is known for its outstanding wine, but also its hefty price tag. The $14.99 Montagny gave us the body and rich taste of a French style chardonnay for an outstanding price. Delivering an almost oily coating in your mouth, this wine would be a terrific complement for salmon or white fish on the grill, and even Lois Hutchinson, who generally is adverse to chardonnays, bought a bottle to pair with her grilled fish dishes.
Our “aha” wine moment, however, came with our tasting of red wines when we found an amazing Cote du Rhone, a light and refreshing Gamay from Brouilly, and a Bordeaux region blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Cab Franc that transformed from a tight wine with tannins into a perfect complement to meats and cheeses after being open for an hour. The Trignon wine is from the Cote du Rhone region, and this “Rhône rider” blended perfectly the chalkiness of the region’s terrier with the juiciness of the blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourverde grapes. This was definitely the hands down favorite among customers at the tasting for both its versatility (it could easily be pared with food or drunk by itself) and its price (only $12.99). The Gamay wine from the Brouilly region north of Cote du Rhone, inspired a new idea for the summer: chill-able red wines. This light red wine would make a perfect summer drink when chilled, and next week, we agreed that a “chilled red wine” tasting is in high demand for the summer as the temperatures go up!
Friday’s tasting showed that our island visitors and residents love to drink French wine. Even though we only scratched the surface in our tasting, it became clear why Americans have started to follow in France’s steps and make wine a central part of our economy and culture.