Affordable French Wines ~ An Occasional Wine Council Adventure
When I think French wine, the word affordable is not usually in the same sentence. However, affordable French wine is not impossible to find. With a little help form Gérard Bertrand wines and the Occasional Wine Council of Temecula, CA, you can soon be sipping your favorite “vin” (pronunciation is “veh” -the N is virtually silent) confidently knowing it did not leave a gaping hole in your debit card.
In early August, eight wine writers came together to taste six wines provided by Gerard Bertrand Winery. We are a tough, but positive group. We don’t always agree unanimously on the “best” bottle of the night. We do always pair a special dish with each wine. At this point in our wine journey we have tasted more liters of wine than we are likely to publicly acknowledge. We like value for our money. Wine can be any price range; we just want it to be at a price point that makes sense for what we taste. There have been some big hits, and some disappointing lows.
For this tasting, five of the six wines were stars and deservedly so. As owner / winemaker Gérard Bertrand says, “Every wine evokes the image and emotions from the South of France; “Art de Vivre” – the “art of life”. I am committed to producing quality wines of great value.” Gerard is hands on in every facet which bears his name… and received accolades from World Wide press reinforcing his dedication. When you read the price points below, you’ll understand what he is saying.
You can find some of the Gérard Bertrand wines at Bev-Mo or online. Wherever you purchase them, you’ll be thanking me on first sip. Here are my tasting and food pairing notes.
2010 Cremant de Limoux Blanc (Sparkling) – $15– made from Chardonnay 70%, Mauzac 10%, and Chenin Blanc 20%, this wine features great acidity and balance. It will pair well with fruit and nuts, game, salads, or lighter pastas. Member Corie M. paired this with a salmon and caviar “pizza” made with flatbread. Amazing match. The wine is a pale straw color with hints of green. The bubbles are tiny and elegant. Aromas are very fruity with a hint of yeast, pine nuts and flowers. Loved the long mineral finish. Seriuosly…$15?????
2011 Muscat 10°: DRY Sparkling – $14: 100% Muscat. Pairs well with seafood, salads, or spicy cuisine. Roger P. paired it was the perfect Asian salad and a gorgeous appetizer of Delice de la Bourgogne cheese on rice crackers. Ginger G. served ginger chicken with it. Marvelous. This wine is a beautiful pale yellow color with intense aromas of roses, exotic fruits, citrus and white flowers.
2010 Gris Blanc- Rosé – $12: 100% Grenache Gris with less than 1% residual sugar. By the sound of the winemaker’s tasting notes it should have paired will with the spectacular garlic and chili flake shrimp kabobsmade by Carmen M. – Unfortunately, not the group’s favorite until we paired it with chocolate turtles.
2010 Cigalus $36 : Chardonnay 80%, Viognier 15%, and Sauvignon 5%. By far this was the group’s favorite. Aromas of white flowers, citrus fruits combine with notes of peach, apricot, grape fruit and honey. The palate is lush, opulent and smooth. This wine features hints of subtle vanilla, light toasty oak taste and tropical fruits. Sue M. paired this with a shrimp risotto with just enough chili flake kick to take this wine on. Ken B. offered up an apricot stilton that also paired well, and again the Delice de la Bourgogne cheese was a bit hit.
Tautavel ’07 (Rhone Style) -$15: Created from 50% Grenache , 35% Syrah , and 15% Carignan this was a delightful wine loved by all. Tom P. paired a tasty Rattatui with this wine, bringing a collective oooooh from the tasters. Other pairings could include grilled peppers, grilled red meat, paella, and mature cheeses. The bouquet of ripe fruits (blackcurrants, blackberries), crystallized fruit and spices was much appreciated. This wine offers depth on the palate and a pleasant sweet finish with long tannins with light spices.
2007 Banyuls- $15: This is a red sweet dessert style wine reminiscent of a lighter tawny port. Expect savory tobacco characters, raspberry jam fruit, mature and mellow with a sizzling finish. Ken B. surprised us all with a grand home-run winner of a pairing…simple but effective…vanilla bean ice cream drizzled liberally with the Banyuls. It was a party in the mouth.