Wine with Leslie Williams: Don't give up on French wines

A couple of weeks back I reported that French wine sales had dropped further in the last year. They now rank behind Spain, Australia and Chile.

Wine with Leslie Williams: Don't give up on French wines

A couple of weeks back I reported that French wine sales had dropped further in the last year. They now rank behind Spain, Australia and Chile. French producers are not having it easy at the moment and with the vintage in full swing as I write this, most regions will be down, some over 20% thanks to extreme weather from frost and hailstones at flowering to heatwaves and yet more hail.

Don’t give up on them yet however. France can still compete at every wine price as you will have seen in some of the recent wine sales. The Lidl French Food and Wine promotion is on at the moment with a small clutch of new French wines on offer. I pick out two below but you can also try its Morgon (€12) and Macon Villages (€8.49). There are less new wines this year which is a pity and no fine Bordeaux this time. I must admit to being partial to this sale as I always pick up some sauccisson sec and tarte Alsacienne.

I also picked up some readymade croque monsieur which goes well with a glass of chilled red wine — a classic French experience though without the grumpy barman and the atmosphere of the dive bar.

Wines Direct also has a sale on this month with a 15% discount on over 60 of its French wines to mark the annual French wine harvest. Wines Direct began as a mail-order company but you can also visit it in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, or in its shop in Arnotts on Henry St in Dublin.

Besides the wines I mention below there are a few Bordeaux you should watch for — Petit Courselle red and white (€13.08), Chateau Puy Castera Haut Médoc (now €18.90); and Chateau Calon Montaigne St Émilion (€22.53). If you have a bit more to spend Chateau Sociando Mallet 2014 Haut Médoc is €50.66, down from €58 and if you are feeling very flush the rather legendary Chateau Le Terte Roteboeuf 2010 is down from €413 to €361. The 2011 costs €185.

Finally I’m sure there are some descendants of the Kings of Munster reading this so you will be pleased to know Chateau MacCarthy 2016 is reduced from €34.65 to €30.32. I’ve always liked this classical and always solid St Estephe Cru Bourgeois and the 2016 will keep until at least 2030.

Over €15

Domaine Bergerie l’Hortus, Languedoc,France — €15.66

Stockist: Wines Direct Mullingar and Arnotts, www.winesdirect.ie

Normally around €18 this is a great price for an old favourite. From the commune of Pic St Loup in the Languedoc and a supple blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Syrah with blackberry fruits, aromas of spice and lots of dark fruit flavours on the palate but also a pleasing lightness of touch. A perfect Autumnal wine and a fine match for wild mushrooms.

Dauvergne Ranvier Saint Joseph 2017, Rhône,France — €23.95

Stockist: Molloys Liquor Stores Dublin

This is new to Molloys who are always worth a visit if you are passing through Dublin. Made from 100% Syrah on granite soils in the Northern Rhône this is still young so decanting will open up the flavours even more. Bright blackcurrant and tar aromas, developed and full with big dark fruits on the palate, integrated tannins and good length.

Domaine des Terres Dorées ‘Classé’ BeaujolaisBlanc, France — €17.94

Stockist: Wines Direct Arnotts and Mullingar www.winesdirect.ie

Only around 5% of the land in Beaujolais is used for whites but they are worth seeking out. Always 100% Chardonnay and generally with a better price/quality ratio than AOP Bourgogne Blanc. This is reduced from €20.50 and is aromatic and fruit-driven with ripe pear and melon aromas, a mineral core, a textured fruity palate and lingering lemon balm touches.

Under €15

Domaine des Millet Côtes de Gascogne,France — €10.41

Stockist: Wines Direct Arnotts and Mullingar www.winesdirect.ie

Gascony is a great source of fruity-fresh white wines and this is a bit of a steal at this price (reduced by 15% in the French Harvest Sale). A typical blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc with apple and pear aromas, floral citrus notes and a spanking fresh clean finish. The Millet Rosé is also worth a look as is the tropical tinged Gros Manseng-Sauvignon blend

Les Romances Chinon 2018, Loire,France — €9.99

Stockist: Lidl

Chinon is arguably the best red village of the Loire and usually a little fuller tasting than say Bourgueil or Saumur, although it depends on the producer. This is classic red fruited Cabernet Franc with blackcurrant leaf and raspberry aromas, red berry fruits on the palate with good density and texture. This is still young so probably needs a beef or lamb casserole.

Château Roque le Mayne 2017, Castillon Côtesde Bordeaux, France — €14.99

Stockist: Lidl

Castillon is often a source of good value Bordeaux, given that it is geologically similar to its neighbour to the east, St Émilion. This château has a solid reputation in its class and this will age happily for a couple of years. Bright purple rim, black dark fruit aromas mixed with touches of smoke, textured and young but with reasonably integrated tannins.

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