2014’s Top French Wine Picks

Wines of France | BCBusiness
The terroir and temperature in France’s varied wine regions dictate the grape varietals.

Vancouver Wine Fest executive director Harry Hertscheg shares his top French wine picks for 2014

This year’s “theme country” at the Vancouver International Wine Festival marked a return to what executive director Harry Hertscheg calls the homeland of wine: France. “A lot of grapes that grow internationally—like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay—all those grapes originally come from France,” says Hertscheg. “They have a very codified system of grape-growing and winemaking that has been developed over hundreds and hundreds of years.” French wine styles are influenced by each region’s distinct temperatures and terroir.

France’s storied past and its regional distinctions can make its wines intimidating for neophytes in this cult-like world, so to make the wines at this year’s festival more accessible, the French producers categorized them by style: wines of character, surprising wines, subtle wines, lively wines, sensual wines and party wines. “What’s probably changing, in the case of France, is more how they market the wines than the styles of wine,” says Hertscheg. Drawing from the list of styles, Hertscheg shares his top French wine choices from this year’s festival. 

Party Wine

Paul Zinck Cremant d’Alsace Brut
Region: Alsace
Price: $23.99
Tasting notes: Crisp aromas of fresh peaches and apples. A vibrant mouthfeel combines flavours of orchard and citrus fruits with subtle raspberry nuances.
Pairing suggestion: Smoked salmon or other hors d’oeuvres.

Subtle Wine
Maison Louis Jadot Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Ursules Rouge
Region: Bourgogne (Burgundy)
Price: $84.99
Tasting notes: A full, firm, rich wine, with aromas of earth and red fruit.
Pairing suggestion: Delicate meat dishes or cheeses.

Lively Wine
Château de Sancerre Blanc
Region: Loire Valley
Price: $29.99
Tasting notes: Powerful aromatic intensity with citrus and floral notes. It is rich and well balanced on the palate with fruity flavours of grapefruit and fresh grapes.
Pairing suggestion: Seafood, grilled light fish and goat cheese.

Surprising Wine
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut
Region: Champagne
Price: $99.00
Tasting notes: Delicate and subtly textured, with sweet cherry, ripe plum and raspberry fruit notes that are balanced by ending with a light, smoky finish.
Pairing suggestion: Young cheeses, tartare of tuna, wafer-thin slivers of pata negra ham or duck breast.

Wine of Character
Famille Perrin Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge
Region: Rhône
Price: $92.00
Tasting notes: An elegant bouquet, rich and round, with figs, cherries, blackcurrants and fruit.
Pairing suggestion: Beef, lamb or poultry.

Sensual Wine
M. Chapoutier Côtes du Roussillon Bila-Haut Blanc
Region: South of France
Price: $15.99
Tasting notes: The fresh citrus blend has a very aromatic attack, with dried peach, apricot and smoky notes on the palate.
Pairing suggestion: Rich shellfish.