Monday, 6 July 2009

French Coutry Wine RIP?

OK, this entry has nothing to do with the Languedoc, it's about a holiday wine on the Ile de Ré. Perhaps the only connection is that it concerns a Vin de Pays, and Languedoc wine lovers will know this isn't an indicator of quality.
I ordered this white, Le Royal from the island's only coop, for a family lunch on the sun drenched quayside bar bistro at La Flotte. While the food is best forgotten, along with the near x4 mark-up on this 3,50€ wine, it left two lasting impressions.
The first was the extraordinary descriptive note on the back label. I translate and précis a little (click on the image to read the French).
«By its style and taste, this wine presents itself to the gourmondise. It is faithful to its terroir. This white is proud of its insular expression. It suggests to you a well-being gourmand.» Now for the tasting notes «Colour pale luminous yellow. Nose floral (broom, mimosa, lime flower). Hint of lemon-balm and, when swirled, passion flower. Lively palate with notes of citrus fruits.» After this are the more practical food accompaniment suggestions and serving temperature. Amazingly there was no mention of the cepage - Colombard with some Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

The second impression was the taste of the wine. With some imagination, and allowance for the low-key finish that necessitated a good mouthful, the tasting notes are just about believable despite the French tendency to seriously elaborate the (in this case) floral similarities. The real point, however, is this wine could have come from anywhere; California and South Africa being strong candidates. Nowhere on the label was «faithful to its terroir» explained. No vine on the island can be more than a mile from the sea, but any character this imparted wasn't detectable by me nor mentioned on the label. Three quarters of the grapes grown are used to make Cognac or Pineau Ilrhéa, the local name for Pineau des Charentes (one third cognac, two thirds grape juice). Nevertheless, the wine just tastes like a stainless steel international success. French Country wine RIP?

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