Sunday, January 8, 2012

Martin Langer Dinner:Decoding French Wine Labels

    For some strange reason the French have been stereotyped as being snooty, pretentious and obtuse. Having traveled in France my experience has been quite contrary. A simple "Good Morning" or "I am sorry I don't speak French, can you help me" spoken in French was enough to break the ice. With this in mind, I began formatting the wine list that Martin sent over and at first glance, it's kind of intimidating. One might argue that some of the labels present as snooty pretentious and obtuse. But again, after some initial digging I came to understand that there is a rhyme and reason to the labels and with a new understanding. Check out the list:

Aperitif at the Counter: Cotes de Gascogne
Domaine Menard – 2010- "Haut Marin Blanc"  
Ugni Blanc/Colombard/Gros Manseng

First Course: Jurancon
 Clos Lapeyre -2010 - Jurancon sec
Clos Lapeyre-2007- Jurancon Vitage Vielh
 Gros Manseng/Petite Manseng

Second Course: Gaillac
Domaine Rotier-2008- Gaillac rouge "les gravels"
 Duras/Bracoul/syrah/Cabernet sauvignon

Third Course: Irouleguy
Domaine Illaria-2008-
 Tannat/Cabernet Franc

Fourth Course: Cotes du Marmandais
  Elian da Ros – 2009- "ce vin est une fete"
Abouriou, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
Elaiin de Rosa - 2008 - Chante Coucou Rouge 
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec

Flambant du Château Montauriol- 2010

     Most likely, the list above is confusing and worry not, what follows is a bit of info to help you decode the list.

Each course has been broken in to a specific location in the wine region of South West France, a relatively unknown region with a fraction of the prestige of it's close neighbor Bordeaux. This is good news for us because wines that are good enough to make it our shores are judged based more on their merit rather than their name..and at a much lower price. Below I have copied the second course and then given a definition to follow:

Second Course: Gaillac = Course Number:Location/town of wine producer
Domaine Rotier-2008- Gaillac rouge "les gravelles" = Producer---Vintage---Name of Wine
Duras/Bracoul/syrah/Cabernet sauvignon =Grape Varietals found in the wine

To give a comparison this is how wine  is typically listed in this country:

Cabernet Savignon, Robert Mondavi, Napa Valley, 2010

As you can see we are accustomed to ordering wine by the grape varietal (type of predominant grape in the wine). For example, most folks in the states will say "I'll have the Savignon Blanc" when ordering wine. For the French they have a concept known as terrior (roughly pronounced tear war) which means: a group of vineyards from a specific region that share the same soil, weather, grape varietals, and wine making style that all contribute to the personality and flavor profile of the wine. So when the French organize their labels and menus, they focus on the wines origin (and usually the more specific the origin the more expensive the wine is). For example in France if you would like to order a Pino Noir, then you would look for a wine from Burgundy, or if you want a Cabernet Savignon then you would order a wine from the region of Bordeux. 

Hopefully this bit of info has been helpful and if it peaks your interest, there is are still three seats left. 

On a side note one of the cool things about this dinner is that for course one and four we will be tasting two different wines from the same producer.

As always you can email us if you have any further questions. Of course Martin will also be breaking down the differences between "Domaine" and "Appelation" if you so wish at the dinner. Menu to follow and we look forward to seeing you all at The Table

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