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Ooh la la! Why French wine still wows the experts

Tue 31 May 2011 10:19

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You don’t have to look far to find a decent bottle of wine these days, with top produce coming from countries that all over the world.

Nowadays we are just as likely to drink as much Californian or Australian wine, but the classics of France, such Burgundy or Bordeaux, still sit at the top of the tree. The best wines of these regions are often imitated, but seldom equalled.

In the last few years there have been many changes in winemaking in France though, with both new regions developing in the south, and the wine styles changing slightly to adapt to modern tastes and modern lifestyles.

So connoisseur Tom Cannavan has been on the hunt and has selected his top three French wine selections, taking all of this in to account. If you’re looking for a nice bottle that won’t break the bank, take a look at his picks below.

1. Domaine l'Aigle Limoux Chardonnay 2008, £9.99, Majestic (or currently on offer on a deal – but two bottles at £7.99 each)
Limoux is a region in the French South that specialises in Chardonnay, making both still wines like this one and Cremant de Limoux, Champagne lookalikes.

Notes of ripe melon and apple, a lovely palate with creamy body and mouth-watering freshness in the finish, make this a lovely wine to serve with most fish, especially cod or halibut.

2. Taste the Difference Côtes du Rhône Villages 2009, £6.15, Sainsbury's
This is a classic from the Rhone Valley in central France, where the mourvedre, Syrah and Grenache grapes are blended - sometimes with as many as a dozen other minor varieties - to produce fruity but savoury reds.

This wine is easy to drink with plenty of cherry fruit, but with a bit of grippy tannin too. The lovely fresh cherry flavour makes this a good match for tomato-flavoured pastas or lamb cutlets.

3. Fontaine du Roy Costières de Nîmes 2008/9, £6.49 from Waitrose
This little-known wine is from the far south of France, bordering the beautiful Camargue area, famous for its wild horses and flocks of pink flamingos.

Based on the Syrah grape, this fruity but crisp red is a great example of lesser regions of France really upping their game. This is a touch darker, smokier and more peppery than the Cotes du Rhone, but just as delicious.  

Tasting cues of plums and peppercorns make this wine a lovely match for steaks, grilled lamb or chilli con carne.

FANCY A GLASS?

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