Despite plodding through more than my fair share of French classes through grade school and college, I still break into a cold sweat whenever I turn down the “French Wines” aisle at the liquor store. France is pretty much the mother-ship of wine making, having shaped techniques, growing practices and new grape varietals over the centuries. But the labels can be so damned complicated and French-y. French wines clearly spell out the name of the winery. But many then the specific region vs. the particular grape with which the wine was made. This means a consumer must have at least a rudimentary knowledge of which regions grow which grapes. For instance, most Bordeaux reds feature a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Most red Burgundy wines feature Pinot Noir; the whites are generally Chardonnays…unless you’re in the Chablis region of Burgundy where they grow, you guessed it, Chablis grapes. Here’s a helpful graphic of two French wine labels, interpreted:
Karen MacNeil’s fabulous Wine Bible is my go-to resource for all things wine-related. It’s worth picking up a copy to put alongside your cookbooks, and it really is both a great quick reference book when you’re puzzling out a wine and interesting chapter reading.
But if this kind of research makes your head hurt, Eric and the team at Arlington’s Mystic Wine Shoppe have a beautiful 2011 Pouilly Fuisse (Chardonnay) from Laboure-Roi picked out for you to sample during this weekend’s free tasting.
Established in 1832, Labouré-Roi is one of the largest wine houses in Burgundy. Their wine is grown on limestone slopes, which give them a crisp acidity with hints of minerality that’s essential to a good white Burgundy. The Pouilly Fuisse is a 100% Chardonnay wine. In the glass, it’s a pale gold with green tints. You can smell honey, nuts and citrus/peach aromas. The wine is dry and fruit-forward, with a nutty character. Like most chardonnays, this stands up well with rich foods including lobster.
Mystic Wine Shoppe will also be featuring a 2012 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio, a 2010 Antinori Santa Cristina Toscana (Super Tuscan) and a 2011 Angeline Pinot Noir during this weekend’s free tasting. As usual, the tasting takes place on Saturday from 4-6 p.m. and all tasting wines will be discounted 10%.