08/15/07 – French bargain whites

By Jesse on August 14, 2007


Another set of familiar apologies I suppose is in order for the lateness of this e-mail… lets make an effort to identify next week’s host at each meeting like we used to.  It’s so disconcerting to not know where we’re going to be until the last minute.  I could hardly sleep last night.

Where we ARE going to be is in France, taking an opportunity to try to discover some inexpensive Franco-whites for delicious summer drinkin’.  Think about it… how classy is it when you have people over for a barbecue, they want some wine, and you’re just like, “oh, I have this little French number in the fridge that I really enjoyed the last few times I drank it.”  Plus, we have to stop toiling under the erroneous notion that France is this intimidating bastion of expensive Burgundies, inaccessible Bordeaux, and haughty Champagnes.  There’s tons of crisp, flavorful, refreshing French whites to be found for less than $15.  For the purposes of this tasting, lets keep it around that price-point or lower, heading up towards $20 only if we find a real winner.

Here are some of the regions we should look for:

Loire Valley — Loire whites are primarily made from Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, and they’re known for their acidity; a lot of good information about them can be found on this website: http://www.diwinetaste.com/dwt/en2005062.php.  Look for wines from Muscadet, Pouilly-Fume, Sancerre, and Vouvray.

Alsace Alsace produces 93% white and is the source of some of France’s best whites overall; the Wine Bible says that “a single, passionate philosophy pervades Alsace winemaking: to create wines with pure fruit flavors.”  Many of them have a certain spiciness to them, and most of them are dry, not sweet.  Look for Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer.

Bordeaux — The good whites are definitely more affordable than the good reds, and are made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion.  Look for the delicious sweet wines from Sauternes, and check out this awesome White Bordeaux map: http://www.franceway.com/w3/Culture/wines/bordeaux/blanc.jpg

Burgundy — Chardonnay central!  Bourgonone is that storied wonderland that encompasses such familiar names as Chablis, Macon, Pouilly-Fuisse and Cote de Beaune.

Provence — This southern region may be best known for Rosés.  Please feel free to bring it if one is recommended to you.

We’ll be meeting at Newsha’s place in Venice.  Chill that bad bottle of French white and we’ll see you Wednesday at 9pm.