July 14th, le Quatorze Juillet, marks the date that we know by the name “Bastille Day,” or as known in France as “La Fête Nationale.” In the City Vino's 2019 Facts About Bastille Day Blog, we provided some facts about the events that occurred on that date in 1789, in Paris, and about the celebration itself. Every year, we use this day to provide a tasting of French wines to you, our local customers. While we don’t need an excuse to do this, it’s always fun to associate a tasting with a somewhat, sorta, kinda, and perhaps notable date, right?
Please join City Vino on Friday, July 15th, and Saturday, July 16th, as we storm the Bastille to free the political figures locked within its walls. On second thought, how about we stay safe and skip the storming of the castle, and we taste some wine together? I like that idea much better.
Our first wine hails from the Loire Valley, in France, and is the 2020 Domaine Benoit Daridan Cheverny Blanc. Our “Blanc” wine meaning white is 80 percent Sauvignon Blanc, blended with 20 percent Chardonnay. White wines from the Cheverny appellation, by law, have to have a high proportion of Sauvignon Blanc (or Sauvignon Gris). The Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are fermented in stainless steel tanks with native yeasts, separately undergoing either partial or full malolactic fermentation. The wines are then blended together prior to bottling.
The Domain Darian white is golden-yellow in color, with hints of green reflections. The aromatics on this wine include grapefruit, apple, pears, lemon, white peach, and white blossoms. On the palate are ripe apples and citrus, with hints of fresh flowers and smoke. The wine has a medium body, with some richness in texture, and would be perfect with fish in a butter sauce, shellfish, white lasagna, or with some whipped goat cheese on crackers.
The next wine in our Fête lineup is the 2021 Laurent Miquel Père et Fils Cinsault Syrah Rosé, from the Pay d’Oc, in France. This lovely rosé is a blend of 70 percent Cinsault and 30 percent Syrah. The Père et Fils wines are a collaborative effort between Henri, the father (Père), and Laurent, the son (Fils). They didn’t always agree along the way, but the resulting wine was worth it in the end, and it is a wine they are proud of.
In the glass, the Laurent Miquel has a beautiful, pale pink color. The Cinsault provides freshness and a smooth texture to the wine, while the Syrah brings red-fruit flavors and adds to the color. Aroma and flavors echo a bowl of fresh fruit like strawberries, cherries, watermelon, raspberries, and peaches. The wine is beautiful on its own, but try it with some barbeque or salad or white fish.
The red wine in our Bastille Day tasting is the 2015 Atelier Prestige Foncalieu L'Apogee, from the Saint-Chinian region, in Languedoc, France. Saint-Chinian is not the same as Chinon, which is a well-known region known for producing excellent wines from Cabernet Franc. Instead, Saint-Chinian is found in the south of France, between Toulouse and Montpelier, and is known for growing and producing wines from Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. These grapes represent 70 percent of the plantings.
The Atelier Prestige Foncalieu L’Apogee is a blend of 85 percent Syrah and 15 percent Grenache Noir that was aged 70 percent in new French oak barrels, and 30 percent second-use barrels. The wine is a deep ruby in color, and has a pronounced nose of ripe red berries and blackberries; eucalyptus; oak; and garrigue, which is a term used to describe herbs like thyme and rosemary. The palate features powerful fruit, wrapped in a long-and-spicy finish. This wine cries out to be served with grilled meats, roasted duck with a tapenade, or roasted lamb that is seasoned with herbs that echo the garrigue notes in the wine.
The final wine in our Fête day tastings is the 2020 Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, from the Rhone Valley, in France. City Vino’s owner Rita Allan and blogger Kathy Wiedemann recently studied for an exam as part of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma-level certification, focused on fortified wines, and this style of wine was one that we needed to be familiar with. Wines made from the Muscat family of grapes are usually quite distinctive, providing both Rita and I with a big “tell” of what the wine might be. Alas, we weren’t provided with one on our exam, but we have one for you now.
The Domaine des Bernardins is made from 100 percent Muscat à Petits Grains, of which 75 percent is Blanc, and 25 percent is Noir. The Noir (red grape) provides the peachy-pink hues to the wine, when blended with the Blanc (white grape). The wine has telltale notes and flavors of honeysuckle and grapes, along with honey, apricot candy, peaches, orange nectarines, rhubarb, apple, orange peel, and roses. While this wine is quite sweet, it has high acidity to balance the sweetness. The wine is luscious and velvety in your mouth. It would pair with foie gras, fresh melon, or something spicy, with lots of flavors.
Let us drink wine together as we remember July 14th, La Fête Nationale, Bastille Day, and/or Le Quatorze Juillet. I don’t mean firsthand memories as none of us are THAT old, but I hope you know what I mean. As always, Cheers!