The primary grapes of France’s major wine regions are like elder siblings. They get all the glory.
But the lesser-known grape varietals of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhone Valley are just as important. Like middle and younger siblings, they play a vital role in balancing out their wine families, or blends.
Bordeaux: Certainly it is the structure of cabernet sauvignon and the fleshiness of merlot that spring to mind when you think about Bordeaux. But many of these blends would not have their signature violet aromas without cabernet franc. And for at least some Bordeaux blends, the wine’s soft texture can be traced back to a little malbec in the blend. A good example is the CLOS DES MOISELLES Cotes de Bourg 2010 ($15), a full-bodied red blend with lush notes of plums and blackberry.
Burgundy: This region is synonymous with pinot noir and chardonnay. But, what about aligote’s role in the sparkling wine Crémant de Bourgogne? Or gamay, the soft, fruity grape that is used to make Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau? We love the GEORGES DUBOEUF “Domaine de Rosier” Moulin-a-Vent 2011 ($18), a rich, ripe, berry-licious wine that makes us want to celebrate the harvest in spring.
Rhone Valley: The elegant white wines of the northern Rhône are dominated by marsanne. But it is from underdog grape, roussanne, that Hermitage Blanc and Crozes-Hermitage Blanc often get their beautiful aromatics. The ALAIN GRAILLOT Croze-Hermitage Blanc 2012 ($29) is bone dry with a tropical fruitiness and a slight nuttiness. Like your nutty sister.
Which of these grape varietals do you prefer? Tell us below.
By Viking59 (image libre(own work)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons