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Snooth User: jackster12

Blowing it in France!

Posted by jackster12, Feb 1, 2012.

Hi... first, I'm not sure where to post this. I'm not exactly a "newbie" as I've probably consumed enough wine in my 46 years to fill a swimming pool. More than a few of those wines were so delicious, I felt lucky to be drinking them. Others were God awful, and I felt like I was getting what I deserved. 

But here's why I'm writing for your advice... 

I am, yet again, getting a lucky break in the wine world. My wife and I, both Americans, are living much of the year in France. I love to cook and love wine, so this is great for us. But I have a dilemma in that I'm terrible at both picking wines and in remembering the ones I've liked. 

Enter the Snooth app, for taking pictures of good bottles after the fact.

But how to make sure I get more good bottles in the first place? So far, I've been limited to making sure I talk to the same shop owners and get recommendations from the ones I trust. But I never know how to start the conversation, and it's not just because of the language barrier.

Every time, I go in unsure of what to pick. Maybe I could tell you guys what I seem to like and you could tell me how to talk about/find similar wines and wine words? 

In the whites, I love very dry and crisp wines. I know I've had good muscadet and good grave (though some shop owners wince when I say that). For about 20 minutes there, I admit liking Pinot Grigio (or pinot gris here). But I've gotten tired of it. 

What I don't like in whites is anything buttery or strongly acidic. I like wines with a hint of citrus or apple, I think, but not any whites that are even remotely sweet. 

In reds, I've had amazing bordeaux (Saint Emillion, for instance) and amazing burgundies. 

I don't like reds that are too thin or TOO fruity.  When I say I don't like reds that have a powdery aftertaste, I think it's tannins I'm talking about. And I don't like reds that are acidic either. 

What I do like in reds are the amazingly silky, rich ones that I so occasionally come across. The ones that make you thankful to the gods for a piece of steak or that go amazingly well with a bite of dark chocolate or tangy French cheese. 

So... what wines am I looking for? 

Any ideas?


Reply by duncan 906, Feb 1, 2012.

Spending a whole year loiving in France [whereabouts exactly?].Most people  on this site will be jealous.I only go for a few days once or twice a year.You ask what wines you are looking for.You are spoilt for choice.In your shoes I would try as many different wines as possible.You have already discovered red Bordeaux and Burgundy some of which are absolutely beautiful.Have you tried any wines from the Rhone valley?The northern ones ie St Joseph,Hermitage,Cornas and Cote-Rotie are made of Syrah which has an intense fruity taste.The southern ones like Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape are dominated by grenache and are a little softer.Do not forget the wines of the south-west.Madiran is very tannic and Cahors can be as well unless the malbec is blended with merlot .Fronton,made from the negrette grape has an unusual spicy taste.There are so many wines to try.I have only mentioned a few

Reply by 1 jayjay, Feb 5, 2012.

a year in france ?/~#;

you will find that the best wine in the whole of France is the local wine according to any french man (or Woman) you ask in any wine region of france .  i would go to a small local Cafe and just drink the local Brew to start with and go from there after having two or three glasses dont forget to tell the owner that it is his round and you will soon start to discuss wine and life in full if you do not like the wine you soon will and all good wine should be drunk with friends even if you speak in a differant tongue you will find that you will make your self understood.

Have a fantastic time try them all every vinyard tastes differant just enjoy

Reply by EMark, Feb 5, 2012.

Jack, I read your posting the other day but was not sure I could contribute.  Today, though, I'll offer some ideas and, as always, you can take 'em or leave 'em.

Regarding your quest for white wines, since you say that you like Muscadet I would suggest you try some other Loire Valley examples.  Specifically, Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre.  Wines from both these areas are made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape and are right in what you say is your sweet spot--dry and crisp.  You might also try something from Chablis.  My experience is that Chablis that are imported over here to the U.S. also are typically dry and crisp.

I'm having a harder time giving you a recommendation on reds.  From your description of your likes and dislikes of red wines I would conclude that you like well aged red wines--i.e., wines whose fundamental components have harmonized and the tannin, that is a fact of red wine life, has been tamed.  Aged wines are often described as silky or smooth the fruit is detectable but it is defined the originating grape and does not overwhelm.  There should be some acid, but, again, it should not dominate.  The problem with drinking aged wines is that if you can find them, they are expensive.

So, let me comment on a few things in the above posts.

You mentioned that you like Bordeaux wines from St. Emilion.  The two predominant wine grapes from the Bordeaux region are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Yes, there are other grapes that are used, but we are taking about single-digit percentages here.  Wine from St. Emilion is primarily made from Merlot grapes which creates a noticeably "lighter" wine than Cabernet Sauvignon.  It does age, but Cabernet Sauvignon, make no mistake, makes a much bigger, "broad shouldered" wine that relishes much longer aging.  If you like St. Emilion, then contiue to look for more examples.  You might also want to try samples from the neighboring Pomerol regions, in which Merlot is also the dominant grape type.

In his posting Duncan points you to Chateauneuf-du-Pape which is predominantly made from Grenache.  I think this is a good one for you to try.  You migh also seek out examples of Vacqueras, which is a neighboring Rhone region.

I love Jayjay's suggestion of engaging people in conversation.  That is an excellent way to learn.  I certainly agree with him, though, that you will find that the local wine, whatever that location may be will be defined as the best.

Have fun, Jack, and please come back and share your findings with us.

Reply by duncan 906, Feb 6, 2012.

JayJay has given excellent advice.Please remember that it is not necessary to spend a vast amount of money to get really good wine in France.The other thing to remember is that in the wine producing areas you will see signs at the side of the road saying 'vins vente degustation'Degustation means tasting.Many wine producers consider themselves to be craftsmen and like you to taste the products of which they are so proud.before buying a bottle or a case.I have tasted champagne in the Champagne,banyuls in Banyuls and corbierres in the Corbierres in this way.On one trip to the Rivierrs I drove through the Jura and discovered the beautiful wines of that rtegion.Keep an open mind and remember that you will not know whether you like it until you have tasted it.

Reply by Greg Roberts, Feb 9, 2012.

As an American living in France for the past ten years my advice would be to seek out some to the regions that will be more difficult to find in the US.  For example, dry whites from the Jura and Savoie.  For reds, try Beaujolais Crus like Morgon and St Amour.  Southwest France also has some interesting wines look for cahors, Gaillac Madiran...   My point is that if you have a year here I would try to branch out and explore.

To find the best examples of these regions look for a good independent wine shop rather than Nicholas or the supermarkets-(except during their twice yearly wine sales)

Reply by JonDerry, Feb 9, 2012.

And as i'm learning, don't forget to explore Provence, especially the Bandol region!

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