As a lover of wines, I know that I should be enthusiastic about French wines. But I’m not.
Maybe it’s because there’s just too much to know. There are many famous French wine regions — Burgundy, Graves, Provence, Champagne, etc. — each of which has dozens of chateaus, or wine producers.
French wines can get really complicated, with vintage vs. non-vintage, different cuvees, grand crus, etc. There are even strict wine laws that prohibit certain types of grapes from being grown in specific areas, not to mention traditions stretching back hundreds of years that regulate the types of casks that are used to store particular wines.
In short, the French just take their wine way too seriously.
Then there’s the price. The words “affordable” and “French wine” aren’t usually found in the same sentence.
Where I live, usually the only French wines available for less than $10/bottle are either Nouveau Beaujolais, which are very young wines released on the third Thursday of each November that almost always taste like crap, or mass-produced wines such as the B&G line of wines, which are basically the Budweiser of French wines.
I almost never wander down the French aisle in my local wine shop because I already know I’m not going to find anything I like at my price point.
But this week I made the stroll anyway. And while at $8.91, this Chateau les Rambauds Bourdeux Superieur was slightly above my $7.99/bottle price limit for affordable wines, I decided to give it a try anyway.
The labels on French wines are as complicated as its wine industry. I speak only a little French and certainly not enough to understand everything that is on this label. I know that Bordeaux Superieur means that the grapes don’t come from a certain region of Bordeaux, but can come from any of the regions sub-regions, which include Medoc, Graves and Sauternes.
“Mis en bouttielle au chateau” I believe means that the wine was fermented in the bottle, rather than in giant casks. Yet “Eleve en futs de chene” means high in casks of “chene”, so I’m probably wrong.
“Cuvee petit martinot”: I’m not at all sure what that means.
If anybody can help me out with this, I would appreciate it. I guess I’m just intimidated by French wines.
This particular wine is made from 55 percent merlot, 35 percent cabernet sauvignon, and 10 percent malbec grapes. It’s flavor was good, fruity, with strong dark cherry flavors and a little smokiness. It was a little more tangy than I prefer, but that went away after the first few sips.
My comfort level is more California, Australian or even South American wines, mostly because I can usually understand what I’m drinking by reading the label. Still, I would like to enjoy French wines more and I would pick up this wine again.
I just need to brush up on my language skills first.