Monday, November 17, 2008

Drinking French for $15 or Less

For my two cents – or three fins, as the case may be – there’s no country in the wine world today that offers as much as France does in the under $15 per bottle category. With the holidays looming large and the economy pretty much in the toilet, trying to get the most bang for the least buck is nothing at which to sneeze. Such incentives, along with my passion for les vins de France, were the inspiration for the seminar I’ll be leading – French Under $15 – at Tria Fermentation School tomorrow night.

Not surprisingly, there will be an emphasis on whites and reds from the Loire Valley and the Southern Rhône along with reds from the greater Southwest. And I even managed to sneak in a Burgundy. Class has been sold out for ages but here’s what I’ll be pouring, just in case you’d like to follow along in mind, spirit or body.

  • Vin Mousseux de Qualité “Armance B” Brut, Ampelidae NV
    A traditional method sparkling wine from just outside of Poitiers in the southwestern Loire.

  • Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie “Vieilles Vignes,” Château les Fromenteaux 2006
    Classic Muscadet, crisp, minerally and mouthwatering, produced by Pierre Luneau-Papin on behalf of his daughter who owns Fromenteaux, which is situated in Le Landreau.

  • Côtes du Luberon “Le Châtaignier” Blanc, Domaine de la Citadelle 2007
    A typical white Rhône blend from a lovely little estate situated at the base of the hill below the citadel-crowned village of Ménerbes.

  • Bourgogne Passetoutgrain, Domaine Diconne 2005
    Yep, 2005 red Burgundy for less than $15 does exist, with the help of Gamay of course. And it’s good.

  • Vin de Pays des Coteaux de l’Ardèche “Vin de Pétanque,” Mas de Libian 2007
    Funky, juicy Grenache, farmed biodynamically by young vigneronne Hélène Thibon, with a little help from her horse Nestor.

  • Fronton “Le Classique,” Domaine Le Roc 2006
    A medium-bodied, surprisingly elegant expression of Négrette, the local specialty in Fronton (formerly the Côtes du Frontonnais), located just north of Toulouse.

  • Madiran “Tradition,” Château Viella 2006
    An excellent value from the heart of the Southwest. A blend of Tannat and Cabernet Franc, loaded with texture and brambly aromas.


Joe said...

Good call - value types will be combing South Africa, thanks for these French selections. Very clever - haven't thought of a Passe-Tout-Grains in ages. Nice call on that Viella (yes, I am the tannat-oholic).

David McDuff said...

Hey Joe,
As much as I liked all the wines (I did pick them, after all), the Fronton red from Domaine Le Roc stole the show. Really aromatic, pure and full of personality.

Joe said...

Hi David - we have the 2005 le Roc "Cuvée Don Quichotte" here for C$20 (~US$16) - you ever tried that Cuvee?

David McDuff said...

Hey Joe,
Le Roc's wines are relatively new to me. Thus far, I've only tried "Le Classique" and "La Saignee." Judging by the description of the DQ on Le Roc's website, I'd anticipate a darker, more tannic style, with a little wood influence. At the price, it should definitely be worth a try.

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