On Valentine’s Day romance, love, flowers, chocolate and wine come to mind. The French are known for romance and love. So on this Valentine’s Day take a tour with your sweetheart through four wines regions of France, no passport required. What could be more romantic than France. Only thing you need to get on board is your love and a glass of wine.
First Stop Savoie
The wines of Savoie are rare and unique. Savoie is one of the lesser known wine regions of France, but certainly not to be dismissed. Savoie is a magnificent region with snow-capped mountains. It is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France, with Switzerland and Jura as neighbors. With Mont Blanc as the backdrop, Savoie is majestically beautiful and a wonderful destination for wine, food, hiking and skiing. Despite its high altitude the region has a continental climate with warm microclimates. 23 grape varietals are planted in Savoie with 70% of the wines being white. The main white grape varietals are Jacquère, Altesse, Roussanne, Chasselas, and Gringet. Mondeuse and Persan are the two red varietals that are most commonly planted. The wines of Savoie are fruit forward, elegant, food wines.
Jaquère is a grape that is native to Savoie. A bright yellow hue fills the glass. There is a burst of flowers on the nose. The palate has notes of lemon, vanilla, green apples and a flinty minerality. The wine is fresh with nice acidity, it is a fantastic value at $13.
Second Stop – Loire Valley
Two hours southwest of Paris lies the Loire Valley, also known as the Valley of a Thousand Châteuax. Beautiful medieval châteuax are nestled amongst the many rivers of the valley. Loire Valley boast a rich wine history going back 2000 years when the Romans first planted wines, offering some of the most diverse wines of France. The wines are approachable with moderate alcohol, great acidity and complexity, thus are very popular with sommeliers as they can be very food friendly. The main red grapes grown are Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir. For whites, they grow Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet and Chardonnay.
What immediately struck me about this wine was the gorgeous bottle. Its square shape was unique, sexy and appealing. The wine is made in Anjou, a very important region for rosés, and a nice change from your typical Provence rosé. The wine has a romantic pinkish salmon hue, with floral and fruit aromas. The palate bursts with strawberries, raspberries and kiwi. The wine has the perfect acidity with a hint of sweetness, to which makes me think the wine is off dry. Made with a blend of Gamay and Grolleau it is a fresh, lively and fun wine, perfect for Valentines day, and also summer drinking. It will pair well with summer salads or spicy Asian cuisine.
Third Stop Beaujolais
The Beaujolais region in located south of Burgundy between Mâcon and Lyon, along the Saône River. A wonderfully romantic and picturesque region with rolling hills and beautiful vistas. The landscape is adorned with lush gardens, centuries old churches, quaint villages and windmills. There is one unifying distinction of the region, and that is Gamay is King in Beaujolais. The wines are classified as Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages and Cru Beaujolais. The best wines from the region come from the 10 Cru villages, with each village having its own style and personality. The wines are structured, complex and have the potential to age. One of the most romantic Cru is Saint Amour, translated to Saint Love. Understandably so, the wines of this Saint Amour are popular around Valentines Day.
Made with 100% Gamay grapes from 60-year-old vines. The wine has a purple hue with notes of peach and spice on nose. On the palate there was lots of fresh fruit, most notably plum, black cherries and currant. There is nice acidity with soft tannins and an earthy minerality on the finish. The wine will pair well with a mushroom tarte, lamb or burgers.
Last Stop – Northern Rhone
I have been wanting to save my most favorite region for last. I have had a love affair with Syrah’s from Northern Rhone from the very first time I tasted them. The Northern Rhone region lies along the Rhone River from Vienne to Valence. The region has a long history, dating back to Roman times. It is a photogenic region with steep hills terraced with stone walls. Côte Rôtie has steep escarpments with 60 degree slopes. Today the Rhone region is not only known for its world-class wines, but also its gastronomic dining that weakens the heart of wine lovers and foodies alike.
Northern Rhone wines are the most sought out wines by collectors around the globe, especially the wines from Côte Rôtie and Hermitage. Syrahs are grown around the world, but the Syrah’s from Northern Rhone are the most distinct with violet, black pepper, olives, and bacon. The complexity, the acidity and tannins make them extremely age worthy.
Vidal-Fleury was founded in 1781 and is the oldest continuously operating wine producer in the Rhône Valley. There is a long-standing US connection that started with Thomas Jefferson who dined there in 1787. The domain is now owned by the renowned wine producer Guigal. This wine is 95% Syrah with 5% Viognier sourced from two of the most highly sought after parcels in the entire Rhone region. The nose has hints of black fruit, cocoa, tobacco and spice. On the palate there is a pure expression of fruit with blackberries, black cherries, and currant. There is also hints of tobacco, black pepper and olives. There is a wonderful balance between the acidity and tannins that will allow the wine to age. The wine is rich, intense and complex and exemplifies everything I love about Northern Rhone wines. The wine would pair beautifully with lamb chops, steaks, stews and rich sauces.
I hope you enjoyed your travels through France in your wine glass with your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day. Please join me and my fellow French Winophiles for a Twitter chat this Saturday(Feb 17th) at 11am EST #winophiles.
THE FRENCH WINOPHILES
February was all about wine and love for the French Winophiles. For more stories check out their links below.
Camillia at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “L’Amour dans une Bouteille ou Quatre”
Susannah Gold from Avvinare tells us about “Love in the Rhone Valley”
L.M. Archer at binNotes shares “The Hedonistic Taster | № 36 | #Winophiles + Love: L’Amour du Patrimoine”
Jeff at Food, Wine, Click! gives us “French Wines for ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ Valentines”
Jill from L’Occasion takes us on a sensory route “Tasting Romance: French Wine and the Senses”
Michelle of Rocking Red Blog helps us “Celebrate La Saint-Valentin with French Wine”
David of Cooking Chat dishes up “French Wine Picks and Pairings for Valentine’s Day” and “Beef Stew with Root Vegetables and Côte-Rôtie Wine”
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares “How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Wines”
Liz from What’s in that Bottle pairs “Celebrate Galentine’s Day with French Wines & Fondue”
Gwen at Wine Predator shares “Sweethearts: French Wines and Pizza”
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shows us how to “Spice up your Love Life with Shrimp Etouffee”
Nicole from Somm’s Table shares “Cooking to the Wine: Domaine Chardigny Saint-Amour with Roasted Salmon and a little Romance”
Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog tells us about “Celebrating L’Amour Du Vin With French Wine At The Table”
Rupal of Journeys of a Syrah Queen swirls up “Valentine’s Day Romance with French Wines”
Jane at Always Ravenous asks “Why Does French Food and Wine Taste So Good? Love!”
And our February host Lynn at Savor the Harvest, shares “L’Amour du vin”