Excellent French Wine on a Budget
Updated: Feb 25, 2022
Back in October the United States imposed a tariff of 25% on French wine under 14% alcohol, excluding sparkling wine. This was done in retaliation for EU subsidies to Airbus, which is bad for Boeing, our own propped up corporate aerospace behemoth. In December the United States proposed a tariff of 100% on a wide variety of European goods, including all forms of wine, as a response to a proposed 3% tax in France imposed upon tech companies like Amazon and Google. If these tariffs were to be approved, thousands of jobs in the domestic wine industry would be lost, and many businesses would suffer or disappear. Things may be looking up, with encouraging messages from both sides, but nothing is official and France remains determined to tax large American tech companies. You should be concerned that your favorite European wine might suddenly double in price or disappear, but far more disturbing is the fact that the federal government would protect highly profitable global corporations at the expense of family businesses and thousands of careers that bear no relation to the trade disputes that have precipitated ideas of punitive action.
From south to north (not too far north) and east to west, France is carpeted in vines, and you can find great wine deals in just about every region. We really hope that situation does not change. Lets look at wines from France that represent some of the world's finest values in wine.
Jo Landron Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie 'La Louvetrie' 2018
One of our favorite winemakers, the legendary moustachioed Jo Landron makes some of the Loire Valley's most compelling wines from a true underdog of a grape, Melon de Bourgogne. Organic since the 90's and now practicing biodynamic agriculture, Jo has been focused on terroir since the beginning of his career, helping to forge a solid reputation for fine wine in a region that was once considered a useful source of cheap wine. The 2018 La Louvetrie is superb, with notes of crisp white and green fruits and abundant mineral and saline nuances. This would be a classic oyster pairing, but it's juicy and fresh enough to go with just about anything.
Chateau Rives Blanques Limoux 'Occitania' 2017
Made from Mauzac Blanc, a grape that has been grown in Limoux for at least 700 years, this dry white wine is always one of our favorite obscurities. Mauzac often exhibits notes of honey and spice, and we expect that the warm 2017 growing season may have amplified these qualities.
Les Equilibristes Perigord Rouge 'Hirsute' 2018
A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot, from clay soils, this red Perigord might be compared to a St. Emilion from Bordeaux, but it is much more light and fresh than most wines from that appellation. Les Equilibristes are one of the most admirable negociants we know, buying grapes only from organic and biodynamic estates, never blending estates, making terroir-driven wines with no added yeasts and minimal use of sulfur.
Domaine Lombard Vin de France 'La Renommee' 2015
We were very happily selling this wine for $17, but when the opportunity to buy the last of the vintage at a lower price came up, we jumped at it. A blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Viognier, this classic blend of red and white grapes is a savory beauty. Believe it or not, it is better to consume this wine over two days, as 24 to 36 hours of air do it great service. On day one, the emphasis is on flavors of meat and olives, while day two brings out rich fruit flavors to accompany its deep umami notes. If you're going to consume it in one sitting, we would suggest that you double decant to get the most out of it.