Shopping for wine is hard. Wine can be chosen based on grape varietal, location, region, producer, style, etc. It is possible to spend hours browsing aisles of wine and still walk away empty handed.
That is why having one person choose three of their favorite wines and letting others taste, is a great way to try something new. At a recent EDB get-together, three wines were chosen by one person, and the rest of us blind tasted.
We had one white and two reds. It was fun attempting to guess the grapes and region based on smell, appearance and taste of each wine.
The goal of this activity was to come to a consensus; can eight different taste palettes agree on a wine?
The three wines were imported from France and chosen to be food friendly, affordable, but of quality in taste and production. The three wines are from sustainably farmed grapes and recognized wine-growing regions of France.
The Domaine de Pouy Cotes de Gascogne 2013 is from Southwest France, where the Artaud and Grassa families are some of the most well-known winemakers. A great introductory white wine, this refreshing sipper is a blend of Ugni-Blanc and Colombard, two lesser known white varietals.
Soft on the tongue, with a semi-sweet finish, the wine is bright, balanced, clean, floral, and citrusy with light acidity. This is a perfect summer wine, strong on its own, or lovely paired with light foods like fish, vegetables or soft cheeses.
Upon initial taste and smell of the first red, I was convinced I was drinking a wine from Spain or California. However, I was wrong.
The Mas Carlot is one of the most respected domaines in the Southern Rhone appellation, produced by Nathalie Blanc-Mares. The Les Enfants Terribles is a blend of 60% Mourvedre and 40% Syrah. It tastes and smells fruity, with notes of raspberry, blackberry and spice. The wine is medium-bodied, lovely and mouth-filling, with a slightly sweet finish.
During production the Mourvedre and Syrah are fermented separately. Then the grapes are aged for nine months, half in tank and half in barrel. The majority of tannin comes from fruit skins, making it juicy and a perfect pairing for a backyard barbeque. The wine changes as it sits in the glass, needing some time to breathe and soften after opening.
The third wine is from Mas Des Bressades, one of the finest domains of the Costieres de Nimes on the western side of the Rhone, produced by Cyril Mares. The Les Vignes de Mon Pere is a blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Syrah, creating a wine that is earthy, balanced, but a little too austere for some palettes. It did not seem memorable to everyone, especially in comparison to the previous red.
This was the wine I enjoyed the most due to its lower sugar, higher tannin and a velvety texture that left a lingering finish. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel for 4-5 weeks, followed by 12 months of aging in new oak barrels. This results in a solid, red wine that would pair well with red meat or smoky, spicy foods. However, it is not a wine I would recommend to someone who is new to wine drinking.
After a few hours of debate and arguing, a consensus was reached. The crowd favorites were the Domaine de Pouy and Mas Carlot, two affordable, easy-drinking yet interesting wines.
Next time you feel the need to impress someone with the ability to select imported French wines, I suggest any of these hidden gems.