Working in the food and beverage industry, it can be hard to schedule time with friends for get togethers and such.  Mark and I happen to have Sundays off, and our friends who are also in the industry try to make themselves available on Sundays from time to time.

When we get together, of COURSE all we do is eat and drink.  When you are constantly taking care of others on a daily basis, it always feel good to indulge a little and treat yourself.  I was lucky enough to be sent five a-mah-zing bottles of wine from some fantastic French wineries, and also received super gorgeous brie cheese and butter from France!

I’ve been to France a time or two, and one of my favorite places of all time is Alsace.  Not only is the scenery absolutely breathtaking, but they also produce some fantastic white wines!  It is seriously one of the most beautiful places on earth, and when you get to enjoy the scenery with fantastic wines, it doesn’t really get much better.  We enjoyed the Trimbach Pinot Gris (2013) and the Trimbach Riesling (2014) for our white options, and both were spectacular in their own right.    Our friends had previously had the Reisling, but Mark and I had not.  It is such an ideal “patio” wine; it provides a light minerality on the palate, and ends with a clean finish.  It DID receive 90 points in Wine Spectator last year, so it’s a must-try.  The Pinot Gris is much more full-bodied, and has light, tropical notes on the palate, and a beautiful, nutty finish.  I could easily drink this with light vegetable-based appetizers, or on it’s own!  Both of these wines can be found at fine wine shops, and retail for under $25.

We also tried a sparkling rose and a red from Mas De Daumas Gassac, which hail from the Languedoc region of France. The rose is so unique, as it comes from the young cabernet sauvignon vineyards of the winery, and has just a kiss of Pinot Noir, as well.  The Mas de Daumas Gassac Red (2015) is primarily cabernet sauvignon grapes, but is also blended with 18 other varietals, then aged in Burgundy barrels.  It was so elegant and charming, I can’t imagine how impressive it would be if we were to let it age for at least a few years.  You could easily pair this with roasted meats, (filets are our favorite), or even grilled pork chops.  These wines were not only fabulous, but the Mas de Daumas Gassac wineries have practiced organic farming since the 1940s, and they take on an all-natural approach to winemaking, which means NO GMOs and NO chemicals.  So awesome.

To add to our French afternoon, we also indulged on the one and only brie cheese, famously produced in France, which is made by Le Châtelain.  Le Châtelain Brie was just awarded one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a cheese: a Gold Medal from France’s biggest food competition, the Concours General Agricole held at the Salon International de l’Agriculture in Paris. The Gold Medal was especially remarkable because it was crafted especially for the U.S. market, using pasteurized milk. Though most cheese experts believe it is impossible to re-create the same rich, nuanced flavor using pasteurized milk, Brie Le Châtelain has done it.  This brie simply had to be enjoyed in its purist form.  And truly, what better to pair with all of the amazing French wines we had?

Last but CERTAINLY not least, there was the #1 butter from France that graced our tasting.  Made in the heart of Normandy, the “Grand Cru” among French dairy regions.  I opened this package of butter, and I instantly fell in love.  The President butter is rich, slightly nutty, and as savory as you could ever want butter to taste.  Again, I’m a huge purist when it comes to the finest crafted products, so I spread this on warmed slices of baguettes and savored every single bite.  I would highly recommend using this butter when baking, as well.  The flavors it will bring to ANY dish will transform it from good to remarkable.  (I saved half of it so I could do just this!)

In all, I want to invite you to have an open mind when it comes to any French food and wine product.  Once deemed as snooty, French wines have become drastically more available in the States, which has helped the price point considerably.  If you’ve been hooked on Napa cabs or Argentinian Malbec, jump across the pond and explore the truly unique products France has to offer.  Also, if you’re in the neighborhood, I have open invites for our next tasting! 🙂