Wines from the classic French regions are the perfect wines for dinner parties and make beautiful festive gifts for loved ones, or your Kris Kindle. From the Loire Valley in the north of France, to Bordeaux on the Atlantic coast and the Languedoc on the Mediterranean these are some of the most iconic wine regions of the world.
The Loire Valley
The Loire river is the longest in France, flowing over 1,000km from the south of the country and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean in the northwest. The main wine regions are spread along the cool-climate, northern stretch of the system and are increasingly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean the further west they are located.
Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc thrive here, to produce crisp, aromatic wine. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the best- known appellations but there are plenty of key regions offering excellent value for money, including Touraine, where Famille Bougrier have been farming grapes for 6 generations.
Les Secrets de Sophie Sauvignon Blanc is a classic example of the style- deliciously crowd-pleasing, fresh and crisp, this would make an ideal festive party aperitif, or served with fresh seafood and salads.
Further south along the Atlantic coast we arrive at Bordeaux: the most iconic French wine region of them all. This far south, the black-skinned Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties can fully ripen although the proximity of the wild Atlantic Ocean and the Dordogne and Garonne rivers make grape-growing an unpredictable practice. For this reason, vintage variation can be significant in Bordeaux.
2016 was an excellent vintage and Château La Claymore, from a family-run estate in St-Émilion, made the best use of the excellent quality grapes. Made in their state-of-the-art winery, this feels every bit like a Saint-Émilion Grand Cru with pronounced bramble fruit aromas and a subtle cocoa and liquorice character to accompany the sweet spice and toast from the oak aging. A well structured wine with a velvet texture, moderate tannins and a long, pleasant finish.
We roundup our French classics in the most southern and warmest region in the country: the Languedoc. Here, it is the Mediterranean sea that influences the hot vineyards, with the Marin winds blowing in off the sea helping to cool the vineyards of Corbières, extending the growing season, which helps to produce perfectly conditioned, ripe grapes. It is in the heart of Corbières, at Domaine Villemajou that Gérard Bertrand's family home is located, bought by his father in 1973.
This is a highly sophisticated, multi-layered red, as good as any from the region. It has developed delicious gamey, leathery flavours to complement the dark berry fruit and Mediterranean herb flavours. The perfect accompaniment to roast lamb or beef.
Please note: All prices correct at time of publication. For the most up to date prices please contact your local store or online www.obrienswine.ie.