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Tasting the Fine Wines of France

It’s no secret I love all things French, flavoursome and extravagant food, hundreds of cheeses, French-style interiors and of course wine... So, being offered the opportunity to taste some of France’s finer vintages was a no brainer, I'm in.

My tasting journey begins around a 2-hour drive south of Paris and a wine from the vineyards at Chateau de Tracy, a family and fairytale chateau dating back to 1396. Overlooking the magical Loire Valley the estate now covers 33 hectares around the slopes of the chateau and a few kilometres beyond. This estate is one of around 100 winemakers in this 1200 hectare area known as Le Pouilly Fumé. The grape variety for this wine is pure Sauvignon planted in the flinty clay and limestone soils here that enable the estate to produce very fine wine. You can learn more about the painstaking lengths the estate goes to in the production of fine wines here.

The wine being tasted here is the Château de Tracy Pouilly Fumé 2019, Sauvignon Blanc, a grape variety that’s been one of my favourites over the years. The vintage of 2019 was classed as an exceptional year and so perfectly chilled I was excited to try it. On appearance, the wine is pale silvery gold and very elegant, one of my favourite features of a good Sauvignon Blanc is the exotic fruit flavours and this wine did not disappoint with definite notes of passion fruit and rhubarb. This fine wine is balanced and crisp, delicious with a lightly seasoned grilled sea bass.

Available from Lea & Sandeman and Vinatis UK around £24-£26 or wholesale at www.hnwines.co.uk and www.merchantvintners.co.uk

Heading east now just over 100km’s from the Loire Valley to Chablis and to the estate of the

Durup Family who have produced wine from these Chablis vineyards for centuries. The wine I’m tasting here is their Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2018, 100% Chardonnay. The Fourchaume vineyards are the best known Premier Cru vineyards in Chablis. I remember tasting Chablis for the first time many years ago and instantly fell in love with its light lemon tart appeal. 2018 was classed as a great vintage for this Fourchaume Chablis and the rich buttery but fresh taste to this wine would, in my opinion, be a dream combination for a fish dish with a rich creamy sauce or perhaps a selection of cheeses the creamier the better.

Available around £26.50 from Tanners, Palmers Wine Store or wholesale from Domaine Direct, Laurence Philippe and Thorman Hunt

A jaunt south from Chablis is the location of our next wine in the famous region of Beaujolais, in this the case Beaujolais-Villages. This area is made up of 38 villages in the north of Beaujolais whose hilly terrain produces superior quality to those of the flatter lands, the wines from here are classed as the next step up. This Château des Jacques Beaujolais Blanc 2018 is now part of the Maison Louis Jadot wine-producing family, the wine is aged in stainless steel vats to preserve freshness and in my opinion, combines flavours of pear and citrus with a richer taste like savoury toast. Again this wine is 100% Chardonnay from 2018, known now to have been a good year for wine production in this area. You could easily pair this with a board of cheeses and cured meats, such a pleasant way to enjoy it or recommended by experts pair it with roasted meats and creamy sauces, now I'm hungry...Available around £15.90 from Dulwich Vintners, Gwyn Llyn Wines, Edencroft Fine Wines and Islington Wines

The final wine in this tasting leads us to the warmth of the south, Roussillon, located in the far corner of France between Spain and the Mediterranean, so far south this region used to belong to Catalonia. Considered a wine-producing legend this terroir (wine-producing area) belongs to Maison Michel Chapoutier and the wine, Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Blanc 2018, Côtes du Roussillon.

With multiple Terriors, the Maison Chapoutier is passionate about the power of nature and working with the natural environment in particular producing organic and biodynamic wines. This white wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu grapes from lower and higher altitudes in Roussillon and presents a pale yellow colour. With slight smoky notes amongst those fresh and citrusy, it wasn’t something I’d tasted in a wine before and presented me with something refreshingly different. In terms of pairing, I’d go for a rich roast chicken dish perhaps with added lemon and herb flavours or perhaps some chorizo laced seafood risotto not uncommon to the diet as we head south towards Spain.

Available for a reasonable £11 from Wine World, Wimbledon Wine Cellars and Edencroft Fine Wines

Caroline Preston is a specialist food, travel and hospitality writer for www.thejarvisjotter.co.uk please contact us if you would like to know more about our writing and reviewing services.

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