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Ooh la la! French wine is the pick of the day for connoisseur

Fri 19 Mar 2010 15:15


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France still remains the most important wine country on the planet, despite the ever-expanding range of wine out there, from new regions and even whole new wine-producing countries.

Interestingly though, after dominating the British wine shelves for decades, sales of French wines have started to slip steadily.

A few years ago, Australia knocked France off the top of the pyramid, to become the UK’s biggest wine supplier. Recently, France has slipped to an almost unbelievable fifth position in the volume of wine sold in the UK, having been leap-frogged by South Africa.

Reasons for this are complex, but while those in the French wine industry might be worried, there’s still a huge amount to get excited about in French wines and lots of new things happening – so nobody should write them off just yet!

This week Tom Cannavan examined three picks from classic French wine regions - here are his selections.

1. Blason de Bourgogne Chardonnay Côte Chalonnaise 2008, Burgundy, priced at £6.99 from Morrisons
Burgundy is one of France’s most renowned regions, making ‘single varietal’ wines (meaning the wines are made from one grape variety), from Chardonnay for whites and Pinot Noir for reds.

This is an example of the restrained, clean, gently oaked style in which the region excels. With delicious flavours of lemons and peaches, this wine goes really nicely with creamy fish dishes.

2. Cave de Beblenheim Pinot Gris Reserve Particulière 2007, Alsace, priced at £8.49 from Waitrose

Alsace is the home of some fantastic white wines. The area has a German influence (having once been a part of Germany), but the wines are much more full-bodied and rich, and make great food partners.

This beautiful Pinot Gris (the same grape as Italy’s Pinot Grigio) is just off-dry, but rich and full.Tasting cues of flowers, lychees and apricots give this wine a nice edge, and it teams up nicely with Chinese or Thai food and very light fruit desserts

3. Château Henry de France 2007, Bordeaux, priced at £6.99 from Spar

Bordeaux is France’s most famous region, and unlike Burgundy, the wines here are normally blends of two or more grapes - in this case Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Red Bordeaux is a brilliant partner to most meats and to hard cheeses, and is always food-friendly like this fruity but savoury example.

With flavours of pencil shavings, and red and blackberries, this wine suits dishes liked grilled lamb, roast beef and cheddar cheese.

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