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Another French fan

As readers of the blog will know, I was a wine buyer with Majestic earlier in my career. I looked after the majority of the ‘new world’ at a time when Australia could do no wrong, while at the same time exploring the south of France for hidden gems.

At the time it looked like France was doomed (can anyone remember like me the revelation of their first taste of RosemountChardonnay?). However, a combination of difficult vintages, a chronic water shortage and a certain ‘been there, done that’ attitude from customers has led to Australian sales stagnating. France meanwhile is making a well-deserved comeback, with more and more thoughtful producers making excellent (quality and value) wines which deserve attention.

What’s great is that what Australian wines often lack, French wines have in spades – refreshing acidity, crisp fruit, food-friendly tannins and (crucially) balance. Here are a couple of the recently featured products which ring my bell…

Chateau de Pennautier, Cabardès

I think I’ve written this up before, but that’s just because it’s such a good wine. Cabardès straddles the Cabernet-dominated areas which look to Bordeaux for influence, and the southern French regions with their spicier styles. This wine manages to include both, in a harmonious package. Blind it could be mistaken for a mature claret at the £7-8 mark in my opinion. Do try it and let me know: if you don’t like it I’ll personally find you an alternative.

Chateau de Sales 2001, Pomerol

Majestic was not founded in 1723, nor do we carry a royal warrant, like some fine wine merchants, but we do know one or two things about good quality clarets for drinking this year, especially in the £10-£20 area which some of the more ‘highbrow’ merchants ignore. The 2001 vintage of Chateau de Sales, a Pomerol which we have followed over the years, is maturing nicely, offering good weight and fruit, but without the jamminess of some hotter years. It’s a very good drink.

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