If there’s one thing I love to do during the summer, it’s snacking and drinking wine. This summer is so perfect for grazing, trying new cocktails, drinking wine with friends, and simply enjoying life.
To make this French food and wine post even more special, I recently had the incredible opportunity to take the test for the Court of Masters Sommelier Introductory Course. It was a complete crash course into the most incredible wealth of wine information I have ever been faced with, and it was also the most challenging two-day course I have encountered.
That being said … I PASSED! Following the test, my passion for wine knowledge has risen to a whole new level, specifically in regards to French wine. Upon receiving the following French wines in the mail, I was ecstatic to jump right into them. I couldn’t wait to take notes, and then to pair them with the amazing cheeses I had also received.
Let’s start with the fact that Mark is currently obsessed with Beaujolais, so we’ve been tasting quite a few lately. Beaujolais wines are made with the Gamay grape, which is grown in the granite soils of southern Burgundy, also known as the region of Beaujolais. It is an extremely versatile red wine, and I highly recommend this grape for anyone who is currently looking to take a step past Pinot Noir. Beaujolais can be paired with a HUGE variety of food options. Seriously. These wines can be paired with anything from roasted pork tacos and cheeseburgers, to a traditionally French dish, like coq au vin. This particular Beaujolais from George Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages (2015 vintage) has notes of ripe red berries, but also contains a subtle earthiness to create a greater sense of balance. It is a great representation of the Gamay grape, and I highly recommend snagging a bottle of it! <– (follow them on Instagram for great photos!)
Also from Georges Duboeuf, we have the Pouilly-Fuissé (also a 2015 vintage). Pouilly-Fuissé is located the Mâconnais region of Burgundy, which is north of Beaujolais, and is only allowed to grow the Chardonnay grape. Chardonnay in France tends to taste MUCH different than the Chardonnay that comes from popular areas of the United States, such as California. The lack of new wood barrel aging in French Chardonnay makes the juice less buttery or oaky, and has more of a natural flavor. It is super versatile as well, and can easily be paired with various cheeses or fish, or it can be enjoyed on its own! The light notes of stone fruit and wonderful minerality make it very balance appealing, and I also recommend trying out this bottle if you run across it anywhere. Follow them on Facebook!
Saget la Perrière is a wonderful French producer that hails from the Loire Valley in the western region of France. This particular bottle, Marie de Beauregard Vouvray 2015, is a wonderful representation of the Chenin Blanc grape varietal. You can sense wonderful minerality in the nose, which is also complimented by notes of stone fruit. Vouvray sits in the middle of the Touraine region of the Loire Valley, and has a continental climate, which influences the flavors of the juice that is produced. Vouvray is only allowed to produce the Chenin Blanc grape, which will pair well with Thai food, grilled fish, or even chicken pastas!
Finally, there is the Chinon from Saget La Perriere. Chinon is also located in the Loire Valley, and also in the Touraine region (just like Vouvray), but this particular AOP grows primarily (98%) Cabernet Franc grapes. Let’s talk about Cabernet Franc for a moment. Cabernet Franc juice is usually used to blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or other red varietals. But when you can find a Cabernet Franc on it’s own, which is what the Chinon region is known for, it is a MUST try! After cooking all day and tasting all four wines, I have to tell you that I seriously just plopped on my couch and drank an entire glass of this shit when I was done. This particular wine provides a velvety mouth feel with an AWESOME combination of violets, some spice, and ripe fruits. It’s killer. Get some. Now.
You can pair any of these wines with the creamy cheeses from St. Agur. I used the blue cheese to help make this chunky blue cheese sauce to put in top of my sliders, and the creamy brie is ideal for spreading onto simple breads or crackers, then topping with assorted cured meats.
The La Baleine Kosher sea salt was PERFECT for seasoning the roasted potatoes and veggies pictured below. I combined it with a few different spices to make a spicy and salty blend for both the potatoes and veggies. I also used a bit of the sea salt and some freshly cracked black pepper on the sliders before searing them. The high quality here is apparent, and it’s a steal for only $3.99!
I sincerely hope you incorporate a bit of France into your summer plans this year. With the huge interest in wine we Americans have, there’s no reason to stick to familiar wines from the States. Venture out! Start with Beaujolais if you are a Pinot Noir fan. If you like Merlots or Cabernet Sauvignon, try a Cabernet Franc from Chinon. If you’re into Pinot Grigios or Chardonnay, expand your horizons and pick up some Vouvray or Pouilly-Fuissé! The history of French wine is utterly fascinating, and it’s easy to fall down that rabbit hole once you start. But first, test the waters. Taste some different varietals. Find what works best for you, and freaking make this summer your own.