Heather Knows Wine – A Trip to Enjoy French Wine

I love wine. I love California too, having spent a good portion of my adult life there. So of course I never thought I could love a wine country more than California. That was true until last year when I laid eyes (and palate) on the historical rural beauty of Provence, Southern Rhône and Burgundy. Its hard to be objective under the influence, so to speak, of the romantic charm of France, but the wines were consistently so lovely with a mineralality that paired perfectly with every dish I had the pleasure to experience. The Rosè were bright with the sweet flavors of red currents and wild strawberries with a delicious finish. When I found myself on the property of two thousand year old Château Beaulieu, I knew I was home or wanted to be, I just hadn’t figured out how to tell its recent owner, Pierre Guenant that I was moving in. The property not only has its centuries old vines, but distributed among the traditional rows of vineyard are almond, oak and truffle trees. Drinking the award winning CH Beaulieau Rosé, which is a blend of Grenache, Cabernet, Cinsault and Syrah, , I couldn’t help but think how it was such a perfect everyday wine for Florida. The cheerful delicate salmon glow of the wine in the glass and the energizing aroma is thoroughly refreshing for our sun filled days here in Florida, not to mention a perfect pairing with Thanksgiving turkey! After an ideal day on the terrace at CHauteau Beaulieau, my colleagues and I were escorted to Notre Dame de Cousignac in the Southern Rhône Valley, an extraordinary 16th century property complete with a stone chapel still used for weddings. “Could this trip get any dreamier” was my constant theme.

Most of us are familiar with the wines of Côtes du Rhôneor Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I was introduced to not only more Rosès, quickly becoming my favorite sipping wine at any occasion, but to the the luscious reds of of Vacqueyras and Lirac. Vacqueyras is the newest AOC, a French regional certification, in the valley and consists of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. This unoaked wine is full body, but not overwhelming and full of sweet spices and black cherry notes. While the Lirac is coined “Baby Ch Du Pape” and shows darker supple fruit notes with silky tannins. These wines were gloriously easy to drink. The final stop on my blissful French Wine Trail was in the Beaune in Burgundy, home of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The rolling hills surrounding the cottages in the stone walled wine villages were the perfect crescendoto my love affair with French Wine. Domaine Roux Pere et Fils, located in the heart of Burgundy in St Aubin wheregenerations live on property and host guests like us, seeking the gratification of the grape and the joie de vivre at all times. A wonderful family took us on an ATV tour though the back trails of burgundy to show us the sprawling expanse of the rock flecked hills . I believe to this day, the villagers thought we were American movie stars, and we were beginning to feel like it too. When we finished our day in the wine cave( yes, it looks like it sounds) we were treated to various white and red Burgundies. Now I have been a longtime lover of Chablis and of course the Pinot Noir, but it was there in the cave surrounded by members of the family, that I tried a stainless steel Red Burgundy. This was unlike any California Pinot Noir I have ever had in all my years living (and glasses of drinking) in Santa Barbara, Pinot Country. This beautiful red glass of wine was supplefruit forward, dry wine that filled my mouth with a vibrant acidity that kept me wanting more. The blackberry and cherry aromas with earth driven layers were a perfect palate profile with the charcuterie that was served.

Someone needs to tell Rioja, Spain that I coming to drink her wines next. Tell Rioja, I am not a selfish

lover of wines and that I am certain she can entice me to fall in love all over again.

written by Heather Smith (heatherbean10@gmail.com) – Opici Family Distributing

“Heather Knows Wine”