You celebrated the Fourth of July with American wine, so when it comes to Bastille Day on July 14, you’re going to drink French, non?
Champagne, that most French of celebratory drinks, leaps to mind. But what about trying its Burgundian cousin, Crémant de Bourgogne? And of course, for red wine drinkers, you should lay into some Beaujolais: maybe a gnarly Cotes du Rhone or an earthy Chinon. France makes so many wonderful wines and this holiday is the perfect excuse to try them.
Here are nine French wines certain to celebrate the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, and the start of the French revolution — a dozen some years after our own.
Marie-Pierre Manciat Cremant de Bourgogne Brut (Burgundy) $16
This dry sparkling Crémant di Bourgogne is all Chardonnay, with a fine mousse of bubbles, a taste of apples, flowers and citrus — and a long satisfying finish. Open a bottle for an impromptu party, or just for no occasion at all. A terrific value for the quality.
2011 Stephane Aviron Juliénas "Vieilles Vignes" (Beaujolais) $16
Not all Beaujolais is fruity, easy drinking nouveau. If you’ve never tried a cru Beaujolais, start with this pretty Juliénas. With its taste of cherries and raspberries touched with cinnamon stick, the 2011 Stephane Aviron Juliénas is the ideal summer-weight wine, supple and silky. And yet it has an unexpected intensity due to the old vines.
2013 Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence rosé (Provence) From $20 to $26.
The second vintage from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s wine estate in southeast France is a spectacular rosé from an unspectacular year. Made by the Perrin family of the renowned Chateauneuf-du-Pape estate Chateau de Beaucastel, the 2013 Chateau Miraval rosé is elegant and fresh, with a scent of wild strawberries. I could drink this very serious rosé all summer long.
2012 Chapoutier Cotes du Roussillon "Bila-Haut Blanc" (Languedoc-Roussillon) $13
This blend of Grenache Blanc, Macabeu and Grenache Gris from Roussillon in southern France shows a great deal of class. Made by the respected Rhone producer Chapoutier, the Bila-Haut Blanc is bright and refreshing with a touch of grapefruit in the nose and an appealing minerality. Ideal with oysters, steamed mussels, a seafood salad — or bouillabaisse.
2011 Charles Joguet Chinon "Cuvée Terroir" (Loire Valley) $18
In the Loire Valley, Cabernet Franc has its own lovable prickly character. Charles Joguet’s basic Chinon is everything you’d want, quaffable and delicious. Tasting of cherries and green peppercorns, it’s a great picnic wine, perfect with a simple roast chicken or some grilled sausages, too. Keep an eye out for his single-vineyard Chinons, all great expressions of Cabernet Franc.
2011 Domaine Saint-Damien Gigondas “La Souteyrades” (Southern Rhone) from $30 to $35
If you love Grenache and have a penchant for Gigondas , this is the wine for you. A blend of 80% old vines Grenache with 20% Mourvedre, the 2011 Domaine Saint-Damien “La Souteyrades” has plenty of spice, pepper and plums in the nose. Rich and full-bodied, this gorgeous wine is a reminder of how very great well-made Gigondas can be.
2012 Zind Humbrecht Riesling (Alsace) $23
An entry-level Riesling from one of Alsace’s greatest estates. Intense and mouthwatering, this one tastes of flowers, citrus and slate. Have it with tarte flambée, smoked fish, sushi, spicy Thai food — or a grilled cheese sandwich. A classic.
2010 Chateau Teyssier Saint Emilion Grand Cru (Bordeaux) $30
The real deal from an estate that goes back to the 18th century. Winemaker Jonathan Maltus produces a fresh take on classic Saint Emilion from the estate's Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Spicy and rich, with all the right notes, it's a classic with roast beef, steak and beef stew — or an elevated mac n’ cheese. It’s also perfect for a cheese plate.
2010 Jaboulet Cotes du Rhone "Parallele 45 Rouge" (Rhone Valley) $12
Jaboulet, best known for its fabled Hermitage “La Chapelle,” produces some terrific at the low end, too. Case in point: this gutsy Cotes du Rhone Parallele 45. Despite the price, this blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah has plenty of character and a classic taste of red berries and wild herbs. Just the thing with Chinese barbecued pork, steak frites or a burger.
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