“I made a mental note to watch which bottle became empty soonest, sometimes a more telling evaluation system than any other.” — Gerald Asher, “On Wine,” 1982
By Bob Lipinski
As an author and professional taster, I generally sample and evaluate more than 50 alcoholic beverages — wine, spirits, beer, and sake — per week. And no, I don’t need an assistant. Some are good, some are very good to excellent; while others are, how do I say it, not very good. I prefer to talk about the beverage rather than assign it an arbitrary number rating.
For many, the wines of France evoke pictures of lush vineyards filled with ripe grapes, huge fermentation tanks and rows of barrels filled with some of the world’s finest wines. France’s reputation as a great wine-producing country is solidly based on centuries of winemaking experience and the country’s climate and soil, which are ideal for growing the world’s great wine grapes. France is divided into six major wine-producing regions. They are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and the Rhône Valley.
Here are my French wine picks:
2010 Frédéric Mallo Riesling, Réserve Spéciale, Alsace, France. Pale yellow color with a fresh aroma of stone fruit, citrus, pears, and red apples. Medium-bodied with a good balance and flavors of apples, cantaloupe and peach nectar. Serve it chilled with softshell crabs, raw clams or oysters, or just a dish of spaghetti with white clam sauce.
2010 Domaine Charles Baur Riesling, Grand Cru Brand, Alsace, France. Bright golden-colored with a lush, full bouquet of honey, apricot jam, dried fruit and nectarines. Full in the mouth with citrus, Granny Smith apples, and some minerality. I would pair with smoked salmon, smoked cheddar and Gouda, or some honey-cured ham.
2014 Grange des Dames, Ventoux, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, carignan, and cinsaut grapes. Salmon-colored with an explosive, fruity, spicy bouquet; quite floral. Light-bodied, grapy and somewhat citrusy. Flavors of Red Delicious apple with an aftertaste of red cherries. Serve it with lobster, crab, or shrimp salad. It would be perfect with paella or jambalaya.
2013 Château d’Aquéria, Tavel, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut, and clairette grapes. Rich, deep rosé color, from brief skin contact with the grape juice. Red berry aromas, including cranberry and raspberry. Medium-bodied with flavors of musk melon, peaches, and red cherries. It drinks like a red wine, so don’t over-chill. Match this wine with grilled sausages, eggplant, and zucchini. Wonderful for light, red-sauced foods.
Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits, and food, in addition to sales, time management, and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at [email protected]