RussellDentThe relationship between the people of France and the country’s wines is often described as quasi-spiritual. With such a deep passion for quality, great-value wines evident at every price point, Majestic Winchester’s Manager Russell Dent recommends France all the way for winning wines this winter…

France produces more fine wine than any other country on Earth, but nowadays you can also be sure of finding extraordinary  diversity and quality whatever your budget. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, decreased yields and technological advances in the vineyard and winery have played their part in improving production standards over the last two decades. And with winemaking more tightly regulated than ever, it’s fair to say that French wines have never been better.

RedGrapesThe key strength of the wine industry in France is its incredible diversity. What other country can boast such a vast range of styles: from mineral-laden Chablis to esoteric fruit-filled Mediterranean varietals; elegant Burgundian reds to rich savoury Bordeaux? This natural bounty is compounded by techniques like oak maturation and malolactic fermentation, not to mention the abundance of distinctive terroirs. And the diversity only becomes more pronounced when you consider the gastronomic excellence that accompanies all of this, with regions defined by perfect food and wine matches, not just their wines alone.

French_Quality_WinesAnd what of competition from other countries? Well, it’s true that a lot of wines today promise bold flavours and pronounced  aromatics. But with the beauty of so many French wines lying in their subtlety and character, for me it’s a case of vive la difference! It’s also worth noting just how many currently fashionable wines find their influence in classic French regions and winemakers. Indeed, the fact that wines from elsewhere are so often compared to their French counterparts clearly illustrates the high regard in which France’s wines are held. Here’s a small but simply wonderful selection of French wines to see you through the winter.


La Vieille Capitelle 2009, Languedoc New!
£7.99 or £4.99* when you buy 2 bottles
Dark jammy fruits and an abundance of peppery Syrah spice dominate this warm-climate blend from Languedoc-Roussillon. The perfect partner for boeuf au poivre.


Château Saint Roch-lès-Vignes 2009, Côtes de Provence Rosé
£6.99 or £5.99* when you buy 2 bottles
A light, approachable rosé with delightful red fruits and a slight sweetness matched with balancing acidity. Its simple character merits an equally unfussy dish – Parma ham and honeydew melon.

La Grille Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Paul Buisse
£6.99 or £5.99* when you buy 2 bottles
Subtle gooseberry and citrus fruit supported by refreshing acidity and a steely mineral streak. A beautifully proportioned wine from the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc, and a superb apéritif.


Paul Mas Vermentino 2009, PGI Pays d’Oc
£7.99 or £5.99* when you buy 2 bottles
The Corsican native Vermentino grape produces a characterful wine, with tropical fruit, honeysuckle and floral aromas suggesting warm autumn meadows all a product of the Mediterranean climate it’s grown in.

Côtes-du-Rhône Belleruche 2008/09, M.Chapoutier
£8.99 £8.74 or £6.99* when you buy 2 bottles
The typical Grenache/Syrah blend provides an excellent mix of bramble and red berry fruits. Peppery spice, liquorice and firm tannins give real warmth, ideal with rich braised meat dishes.


Chablis 2009, Jean Bourguignon
£9.99 or £6.99* when you buy 2 bottles
An archetypal Chablis at a great price, this is a lean Chardonnay with bright acidity, simple citrus characters and a subtle chalky finish. Great as an apéritif; delicious with a few fresh oysters garnished with shallots and lemon juice.

Beaujolais Lantignié 2009, Louis Jadot
£9.99 or £7.99* when you buy 2 bottles
A serious Beaujolais from Louis Jadot with lots of complexity. The deep red fruits remain, but they’re bolstered by wonderfully structured tannins. Perfectly paired with deeply flavoured white meats.


Domaine de l’Aigle Pinot Noir 2008/09, Gérard Bertrand, PGI Pays d’Oc
£9.99 or £7.99* when you buy 2 bottles
From a vineyard at an altitude that tempers the warm Mediterranean climate, this is a subtle Pinot Noir with an emphasis on strawberry fruit, plus sweet vanilla spice and a distinct herby character. Fantastic with turkey.

Vieux Remparts 2007, Lussac St-Emilion
£9.99 or £7.99* when you buy 2 bottles
An attractively-priced Bordeaux from one of St-Emilion’s satellite appellations. It’s a Merlot-heavy blend, which lends a rich  plummy character. Fine-grained tannins give excellent structure, making this a perfect partner to stewed meats and strong cheeses.

Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2007, Alsace
Breadth of flavour, incredible silky texture and persistent length make this a multi-dimensional wine from a world-renowned  producer. The typically dry style matches simple seafood.

Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vieilles Vignes 2009, Nicolas Potel
£11.99 or £7.99* when you buy 2 bottles
Fruit sourced from older vines around the region adds real concentration to this superbly crafted Burgundy. Floral notes complement bright red fruits, with a slight mushroom character reminiscent of a much older vintage.


Château Grivière 2001, Médoc, Cru Bourgeois
£11.99 or £7.99* when you buy 2 bottles
This is an unusually Merlot-dominant blend from the Cabernet Sauvignon-biased Left Bank. Bottle maturation has produced a complex palate with preserved black fruit, supple tannins and spicy complexity.

*Prices are valid from 02 November 2010 to 31 January 2011.

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