Fine French Wine

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Here’s some wine that I think is really fine.  As you know, fine is a funny word.  It can mean exquisite, as in ” the museum is full of fine art,” or just ok, as in “I broke my leg yesterday but I’m fine now,” or even pretty terrible, as in a “fine kettle of fish.”  What we often refer to as fine wine is shockingly expensive, you have to cellar it for years, you need crystal glasses to drink it, and it’s wasted on all but the most discerning of your friends.  It would be wasted on me, even, because I’d be worrying about whether my palate was up to the quality/price ratio.  There’s something fine about it, if you’ve got a fine palate and a fine bank balance, but it comes with a lot of baggage. 

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And here’s Gérard, who made the wines above, and is one of my favorite winemakers.  Pretty fine too, right?  Ok, I’m reading your mind here, and you’re thinking: “sure, there are cute guys making fine wine all over France, what’s so special here?”

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One thing that makes this wine special is where it’s made, in a cave cooperative.  No fancy sign, no chateau, nothing on the outside to make you think there’s a reason to visit.  Because all too often the wine from the co-ops is what Shel calls “chateau routier,” or truckdriver’s special.  The kind of wine you can get from a milk-type stainless steel dispenser at a highway rest area.  I know, wine at a highway rest area…but never mind that for now.

But sometimes the wine made in these co-ops is very good, as it is here.  The growers bring their grapes to Gérard and he makes the wine, with a variety of labels, in a variety of styles, at a variety of prices.  All of them very low.  The Domaine des Lucioles, which won a Medaille D’Or, or gold medal, in Paris last year, sells from the cave for 5 Euros.  That’s $6.34 at today’s rate.  And I’d proudly serve it to anyone.  Now that’s a fine wine in my book.  Any family in France can afford to serve it, perhaps some of them only on a special occasion, but it’s a wine that will make any occasion brighter.

Wine’s in the news every day here, as the worldwide financial crisis hits home and the winemakers are hanging on for dear life.  So let’s stick with that theme for a bit, and next I’ll tell you about my recent class in pruning the vines, a fun day in the sun that ended up with, naturally, a wine tasting.  In the meantime, here’s your homework.  Go out a buy a bottle of French wine.  The industry needs your support, and you can drink a glass while reading my next post.  And you can tell us what you paid for it.

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2 Comments on “Fine French Wine”

  1. Sandra Says:

    We drink French wine in Gig Harbor, WA every day. Our “house wine” is La Ferme Julien – rose, white and rouge. It’s produced by the Perrin family of Chateauneuf du Pape fame. It’s “fine” wine…available for $5.99/bottle at Trader Joe’s. We’ve even had it in France.

  2. William Andrew Says:

    I am lucky enough to have bought, shipped and cleared through customs 12 cases of wine for the last three years from a wonderful winery in the cotes du rhone. It’s pretty amazing, considering everyone in the USA wine business said I couldn’t do this,as well as quite a few people on the French side as well, and I don’t speak Francaise. I do it for the love of french wine and I like suporting a system that provides medicine for all it’s citizens!


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