Alsace with its villages, vineyards and towns linig the foothills of the Vosges mountains, is on of the most picturesque wine regions of France. This unique area of mirtheast France, which produces some of the greatest white wines in the country, still prides itself on making handcrafted wines and steers clear of outside investment.
The region’s continental climate is exceptionally dry. Almost all Alsace wines are white wine and dry wines, whit exception of late harvest wines and some red wine produced from Pinot Noir. The soil is extremly varied, with the best vineyards classified as Grand Cru.
Mostly grapes of Germanic origin are grown here, but the resulting wines are much more expresive and fuller-bodied than those over the border. Often consumed with food, the main grape varieties, which are always mentioned on the label, are Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Tokay-Pinot-Gris, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, and Sylvaner.
Some of the greatest wines of Alsace are the Vendange Tardives and Selection des Grains Nobles, which can live for over forty years. Outstanding wines include: Riesling Clos Ste., Hune from F.E. Trimbach, Domaine Zind Himbrecht’s Gewürztraminer Rangen Grand Cru, and Hugel’s Riesling Vendage Tardive.
Alsace has the nost complex geological make-up of all the great wine regions of France. Some of the greatest wines of Alsace are the Vendange Tardives and Selection des Grains Nobles, which can live for over forty years. Outstanding wines include: Riesling Clos Ste., Hune from F.E. Trimbach, Domaine Zind Himbrecht’s Gewürztraminer Rangen Grand Cru, and Hugel’s Riesling Vendage Tardive.
Alsace has the nost complex geological make-up of all the great wine regions of France.
This light, fruity and fresh tasting French wine is drunk young. True Chablis can be laid down for maturing but is also very enjoyable in its first year. This French wine is fully matured after three years.
Chablis Premier Cru is at its best after three to five years. It does not contain the depths of the Grand Cru but can be drunk much earlier for those too impatient to wait.
A Premier Cru Chablis is golden with a definite tinge of green. The nose is fruity but above all vegetal : lemon balm, fern, and the suggestion of coriander. The taste is dry and reminiscent of chalk with a touch of iodine. Known Premier Crus are: Mont de Milieu, Tonnere, Sechet, Montee de Fourchaume, Montmains,Vaillons.
These French wines need to be laid down for at least five years after bottling and can certainly be left for twenty years. These are rare French wines, very dry, with a good balance between strength and finesse. The colour is a very clean pale yellow with the minimum of green tinge.
The nose tends towards fern and coriander with the occasional suggestion of preserved citrus fruit. The chalk soil is readily discovered in the flavour, with a pronounced undertone of iodine.
The preserved citrus fruits put in a further appearance in the aftertaste. There are seven Grand Cru wines: Vaudesir, Les Preuses, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Bougros, Valmur, and Blanchots.
This French wine is an intense bright red with nose of fruit such as blackcurrant, blackberry, cherry, and raspberry, together with fruit stones, cocoa, and cedarwood of cigar boxes. It is an extremely juicy wine that is f resh and well-structured, velvet smooth, with a finish of bitter chocolate. The wine continues to breath for some time.
This French wine is a very dark but particularly bright and pure granite red. The fruity nose dominates the young wine with hint of burnt cocoa or bitter chocolate. After maturing in the bottle the bouquet takes on the smell of fungus, truffle, and leather, with a hint of cedarwood and tobacco. This is a very elegant, classic Burgundy with refined tannin and velvet soft texture, that is fresh and exceptionally harmonious. The afte rtaste lingers very long.
This French wineis an attractive clear colour with fascinating reflections. There is an intriguing scent of wild cherry, redcurrant, raspberry, cocoa, nutmeg, leather, and various vegetal undertones. When older the wine often develops the distinctive nose of black truffle. It is a very rich, refined, and complex wine with velvety texture and prolonged aftertaste. Do not drink a Vosne-Romanee before it is 7-8 years old.
This French wine is an exciting dark ruby red colour, with strong nose of plum or prune, black cherry, red fruit such as redcurrant, and hints of cocoa, burnt vanilla, herbs, and animal scents. The taste is powerful too, tremendously concen trated, with great potential for laying down for a long time. Truly a wine to keep.
This French wine is one of the smallest vineyards of France but one of the best. The wine possesses an intense ruby colouring with fiery reflections. The nose is reminiscent of red fruit, cherry brandy, and preserved fruit. Th is is an extremely intense wine that is velvety smooth and generous.
The same applies to this French wine as La Romanée, albeit that tllis wine is perhaps somewhat finer and more elegant with a distinctive expression of its chmat. This is a .sublime wine for the happy few and one of the most impressive experiences a wine drinker can undergo.
This French wine is an intense, dark ruby colour in common with the other Romanee wines. The youthful nose is of blackberry, raspberry, black, cherry, preserved fruit, and fruit liqueurs but this makes way later for a more vegetal bouquet with hints of moss, humus, truffle, and game.
The texture for this French wine is full and firm, the taste is fresh, elegant, and juicy. Ripe fruit and a touch of exotic spices can be discerned in the aftertaste. Allow this wine to rest for at least 10-15 years.
The aromas of Griotte-Chambertin are complex and unusually subtle for a good French Wine. Hints of cherry brandy and preserved cherry have been discerned, with suggestions of leather and a pinch of nutmeg. When more mature there are also the aromas of truffle and animal scents.
The French describe this smell as 'gamey' because it is reminiscent of well-hung game. Tannin is clearly apparent yet muted, which combined with a high level of alcohol by volume, ensure a velvet soft, al most caressing wine. The sensations of the nose are echoed in the taste although Jess pronounced and accompanied by the elegant hint of wood. A good Griotte-Chambertin has remarkable style, richness, and complexity.
This rare French wine from Chambertin is both powerful and supple, well structured, complex, yet elegant and subtle.
This is an elegant and charming red French wine with average structure, not especially complex or powerful but certainly very fruity. It should not be kept too long.
Although somewhat overlooked among the great character wines of Chambertin and the delicate sed ucers of Chambolle-Musigny, the wine of Morey St-Denis is worthy of greater recognition. It possesses a very clear red colouring, fruity nose (morello cherry) with hints of-wood, herbs, spices, fungus, and leather, and has a fulsome, soft as velvet, and very balanced taste. Furthermore this French wine is suitable for keeping for a long time. Specially recommended: the Premier.Cru 'Les Ruchots'.
The French wine is a very dark ruby colour. The aroma recalls black cherry and sometimes a hint of animal scents such as musk. The suggestion of cedarwood cigar box is almost always present. It is a big but harmonious wine with plenty of tannin yet retains a velvety-soft texture. The French wine continues to 'breathe' in the mouth for some time.
This French wine is a fine ruby colow• with the suggestion of a tinge of granite. It has a surprising and complex nose in which blackcurrant, blackberry, prune, occasionally musk, herbs, spices, coffee, but also sometimes violets or other flowers can be discerned.
This French wine is somewhat modest and overlooked. It is a classic fruity Burgundy with suggestions of black cherry and hints of floral and animal aromas such as leather and musk. This is a full-bodied, rounded wine of some style.
Everyone has heard of Chateau Margaux of course, the showpiece from this appellation. The AC Margaux includes the communes of Margaux, Arsac, Cantenac, Labarde, and Soussans. The underlying soil of Margaux is extremely poor gravel with some larger stones. The microclimate is somewhat different to the other areas. Firstly Margaux is more southerly than the other Grand Cru vineyards which means more warmth and quicker ripening of the grapes. Equally important though is the role that the islands and sand banks play for Margaux. These protect the area against the cold northerly winds, creating ideal conditions for producing great French wine.
The French wines of Margaux are excellent for laying down of course but their charm is rather more in the finesse and elegance than in their tannin. Margaux is perhaps the most feminine French wine of the Medoc, being soft, delicate, subtle, sensual, and seductive. Certain characteristic aromas include red ripe fruit, cherry, plum, spices, resin, vanilla, toast, gingerbread, coffee, and hot rolls. Drink this Margaux French wine at: 17- 18°C (62.6- 64.4°F) .
Known as much for its architecture as for the excellence of its wines, Saint-Émilion dates from the Middle Ages. An interesting and unusual town, it has been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, it is a jewel-box of old stone, built on a picturesque half-circle of hills facing the Dordogne valley. Its steep and narrow streets, its Roman and Gothic churches, its convents and cloisters all point to its prestigious past.
The main monuments still visible are the grotto of the hermit, Saint-Émilion, which faces the remains of his disciples’ monastery; the catacombs; and, next to these, the monolithic church, one of France’s largest underground churches.
Appellation contrôlée (AC) – in theory the best-quality category of French wine, with regulations defining vineyard, soil, grape varieties, yields, and alcohol levels.
Clos – an enclosed vineyard.
Cru – literally ‘growth’, indicating a distinguished vineyard site in Burgundy or property in Bordeaux.
Vieilles Vignes – old vines. Although unregulated, there can be a disctinct bearing of quality. A Chablis Vieillies Vignes for exemple, may have added concentration of flavour.
Blanc de blancs – made from white grapes (Chardonnay only).
Blanc de noirs – made from red grapes, vinified without skin contact.
Brut – dry or dryish in style.
Demi-sec – sweet.
Doux – very sweet.
Vintage – a blend froa a single year, solg after at leat there years ageing.
Grand cru – classified vineyard site.
Sélection de grains nobles – wine.
Vendange Tardive – ‘late harvest’/specially grown ripe grapes.
Cru Bourgeois – classification of chateaux in the Médoc and some of the best value-for-money wines.
Cru-classé/grand cru-classé/premier grand cru-classé – ‘classified growth’, divided into five ‘tables’ in the Médoc, or from the classification system of the Graves, Sauternes, or St Emilion.
In Bordeaux, the name of the chateau, or property, is all improtant.
Domaine – estate or vineyard hoding, belonging to a grower or négociant.
Grand cru – top or finest vineyard sites.
Premier cru – second highest category of vineyard site.
In Burgundym the name of the grower of negociant is extremly important.
Sec – dry.
Demi-sec – medium to dry.
Molelleux – medium sweet to sweet.
Sur Lie – generally associated with Muscadet, sur lie indicates that the wine has been bottled directly from its lees, without being rached of filtered.
The Loire has a relatively cool climate, so take note of the vitange,
The best wines are often from a specified region, appellation or cru, i.e. Côte Rôtie. Côte du Rhône Villages carries a higher reputation than the general appellation.
Trochken – dry.
Halbtroken –semi-dry. In Germany, the grower and grape variety is worth nothing.
Verband Deutcher Pradikatsweinguter e. V (VDP) – group of estates whose members have agreed to a set of regulations.
Amarone – dry Passito wine from Valpolicella.
Classico – heartland of a DOC zone, generally producing better wines.
Passito – wine made from dried of semi-dried grapes.
Recioto – sweet passito wine.
Riserva – should be the best wines, from the better vintages, which are held back or aged for longer than normal.
Superior – wine whit higher alcohol than usual.