One of the associations people often have with wine is in regard to price. Some regions are well known for providing value and quality at a variety of price points. Other areas are not necessarily thought of that way by every consumer. This is often true of Old World regions which people sometimes associate with higher cost wines. The truth though is that just about every country has regions that offer good values. France for instance has numerous areas that can offer plenty of nice, value priced wines. However due to the numerous classic, higher end wines that have traditionally gotten most of the attention, people’s thoughts aren't always tuned into the value priced selections that are also available. With that in mind here’s a look at a couple of varietal offerings that I recently tasted and enjoyed immensely. The Fortant 2012 Coast Select Muscat was produced from fruit sourced in the Languedoc region of France. More specifically all of the vines where fruit was picked for this wine were in vineyards that see coastal influence. This offering is 100% Muscat. The fruit was picked at night and then pressed gently. It was aged for 3 months Sur Lies prior to bottling. This wine has a suggested retail price of $10.99. Aromas of Lychee and apricot fill the nose of this Muscat; underlying bits of toasted almond are present as well. Mango, nectarine and white peach lead a treasure trove of stone and tropical fruit flavors on display throughout the joyful and expressive palate. White pepper spice and a hint of clove are in play here as well. The finish which is fruity and a bit lusty shows off pineapple, bits of honey and a gentle wisp of chamomile. This French Muscat is incredibly appealing and approachable with enough depth to really keep things interesting. Sip after sip it kept beckoning me back to the glass for more. It will pair well with soft cheeses, entree salads and a broad array of lighter fare.
The Gilles Louvet Mon Pré Carré 2012 Marselan was produced entirerely from organically grown grapes. The fruit all came from the Rhone region. Marselan is a relatively new grape created in France just over 50 years ago. It’s a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. This offering is 100% Marselan. The vines in this case had 20 years of age on them at the time of harvest. Fermentation took place over 7 days in a temperature controlled environment. Aging followed in concrete tanks prior to bottling. This wine has a suggested retail price of $13.99. The nose of this offering is marked by aromas of red cherry and leather. Strawberry, spices and continued cherry characteristics make up the palate. It is simultaneously easy going, fruity, dry, spicy and a bit savory in nature. Cranberry and dusty bittersweet cocoa notes emerge on the finish which has good length for its price point. This is a medium bodied wine that will be a delight paired with cuisine styles from various parts of Europe. I paired it with a hearty Italian Lentil Stew and it was a killer match.
Both of these wines offer good bang for the buck. They feature lots of character and charm as well as easy drinkability. Each of them is primed to pair with appropriate and diverse food categories too. You don’t have to kill your wine budget to enjoy delicious, well made French wine. These two offerings prove that.