Friday, October 3. 2014
The theme country for this Year`s Port of Wines Festival which took place last week was France. This great wine country, still acknowledged for producing the very finest wines in the world, has lost a lot of ground in recent years. Top Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, though unrivalled in quality when on their game, have become unaffordable for the average wine lovers pocket book.
Great rival, Italy, offers many fine wines that continue to get better, as well as offering very good value across the board. Italy is not the only source of completion, Spain, Portugal, other European countries and many New World wine regions, all offer a huge array of very good wines, often at prices that are hard to beat.
French producers, faced with this daunting situation, have had to do a lot of soul-searching. Many vineyards have been taken out of production and some producers have been driven out of business. To make a bad situation worse, wine consumption in France is dropping quite drastically. French producers must now find ways to offer better value while retaining the unique character of their wines.
This year`s focus on France presented a good opportunity to taste a wider range of French wines than we have seen for a very long time. There is good value to be had here and, for those who did not get to the festival, do not despair! The surplus wines will be hitting selected NSLC stores over the next while. Bright spots can be found among the lesser names of Bordeaux, which are now relatively affordable. Look also to the ever improving wines of the Pays d’Oc. There are some outstanding values among them. The Southern Rhone and the Loire region should not be overlooked either.
Below are some examples of good French wines that are currently available in Nova Scotia. Be aware that some of them are in fairly short supply. I have also included among these reviews a new Italian from Masi and a good value wine from South Africa.
Tasting Notes October 2nd, 2014
Perrin Reserve 2013, Côtes du Rhone Blanc AOC $15.99 NSLC Port of Wines Festival Selection
A classic blend of the southern Rhone varieties, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne and Viognier, this charming white reveals ripe yellow pear and tropical fruit on the nose with some refreshing citrus and mineral notes chiming in on the smoothly rounded palate. Easy drinking, simple elegance. ***
Perrin Peyre Blanche 2012, Cairanne AOC $22.29 NSLC (Larger Stores)
Characterful, stylish wine showing typical raspberry-led red and dark fruits backed by peppery spice and supported by appropriate tannic structure. Medium weight and well-balanced, it will pair best with grilled or roasted red meats. Drinking well now but will develop further over the next 3-6 years. ***
Chateau Bellevue La Forêt 2010, Fronton AC 14.5% $17.99 NSLC (Larger Stores)
Made from Negrette, the emblematic grape of the little-known Fronton Appellation, together with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, this is a ripe, warmly rounded, fruity and well-structured wine with some spicy and light chocolate character. Well-made, with good depth of fruit it is worth trying at the price. **
Abbotts Delaunay Cumulo Nimbus 2011, Minervois AC 14% $24.99 NSLC (Larger Stores)
A Syrah, Carignan blend, this is a very polished example of what the Minervois Appellation can produce. It boasts fine developed deep currant and red berry fruit with a subtle dusting of spice. Harmoniously integrated and well-structured, this one splendidly combines regional terroir with modern winemaking. Match with richly flavoured red meat dishes and game. ***
Chateau du Grand Caumont 2011, Corbières AC 14% $17.29 NSLC
The wines of Corbières often over deliver and this one is no exception. The blend of Carignan, Syrah and Grenache offers warmly ripe red berry and dark fruit, spice and rich earthy notes, together with firm tannic grip, balanced acidity and a light splash of dark chocolate on the very dry finish. Pair with grilled or braised red meats and game dishes. ***
Masi Frescaripa 2013, Bardolino Classico DOC 12% $14.99 NSLC (Wide Distribution)
Bardolino, on the shore of Lake Garda in the Veneto, gives its name to the Bardolino Appellation. The wines that were available in the past, were inexpensive light reds. Not any more, apparently. I tasted one while visiting Lake Garda earlier this summer. It was full-bodied and quite concentrated, much like this fine example from Masi which offers juicy black cherry flavours with bitter dark cherry bite, some tannic backbone and succulent, saliva-inducing acidity. It will pair perfectly with tomato-based pasta, pizza and firm-ripened cheeses. ***
Flat Rock Manor Malbec, 2011, Wine of Origin Stellenbosch, South Africa 14% $13.49 NSLC
General List Shows typical varietal red currant, spice and a light herbal note combined with the sooty, dry ink character found in some Cape wines. The assertive flavours call for spicy burgers and other grilled red meats. **