Bicycle Gourmet’s French Wine Vine — Part One

French Wine Grapes

When someone says: “French”…..what’s the first second word that comes to mind? “Fashion?” Maybe. “Film?” Uh,could be.”WINE?” Yes sir, you betcha! That be the first,second word describing France. How could it not be with vines covering so much of the “terroir?”

From time to time France gives the World a movie/music star/sports hero. But the “gift” of French wine is constant and(happily)consistent. (Curiously,the World’s premier wine magazine is American.)

On the World markets, French wine faces stiff competition from producers in other countries. Many of whom are either French,and/or have adopted the French model. Regardless of taste/price,there is one element French wines have that World wines do not.Authenticity.

Because of A.O.C.(Appelation Origine Controle) — The government system of wine designation/control.

This “fidelity”to a specific location means that a Pinot Noir from Beaune,must be produced from those grapes alone,and grown within the Beaune appellation. This assures the consumer that this pinot is an authentic reflection of Beaune’s soil and climate.

World wines,on the other hand,have no such restrictions. And because wine is such a huge business, the Multinationals who churn out container carloads plus o’ vino,focus on the taste/price balance,relative to each market. And,if their grapes in any year are not “ab/fab”,they’ll be “enhanced” in the cellar.(“Better drinking through chemisty”…….NOT!)

There is even a wine producers “hotline” offering market specific additive info. “OK — So you want to produce a Chardonnay for low end Japanese consumers..Since they like a banana flavor on the finish,you need to add yeast b-957.”

Happily, if you do detect a nuance of banana in your French Savignon, you can rest assured, thanks more to tradition than A.O.C, it’s the real deal.

Although Italy produces more wine by volume than France, the adjective -“Quality” is synonymous with French Wine in the popular imagination.

The Bottom (and obvious)line: Every Country has wines of varying degrees of “quality” — however you wish to define the word.

One wine that fits MY definition of quality is produced by Domaines Tatin.

You can join their wine harvest HERE.