The theme for this tasting was "Affordable French", and overall it was a likeable bunch. I went with a couple of friends who don't regularly attend tastings, and they appeared to enjoy the day's offerings. Note: I wasn't able to find several of the websites--smaller French producers often don't have their own website, and sometimes the only reviews or notes come from Germany or Denmark.
Wine 1: Louis Perdrier Brut NV. Beaune, Burgundy. This is a non-vintage sparkling blanc de blancs from Beaune. Couldn't find a website, but it's a really nice little sparkler. Mellow, lightly crisp and refreshing. The flavors aren't complex, but it was a big hit at the tasting. And the price made it even more attractive. $9.
Wine 2: 2004 Chateau Larmevaille Blanc. Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux. Made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion, this was lemony and crisp with a good balance. Not spectacular, but a great basic white Bordeaux. $15.
Wine 3: 2000 Hugel Riesling. Alsace. There's a touch of petrol on the nose, and the overall flavor is dry with just a touch of tartness. It was thin and not terribly interesting. Not a big hit at the tasting. $10 (375 mL bottle).
Wine 4: 2001 Cave de Prisse Saint-Veran. Maâcon, Burgundy. A pretty boring White Burgundy. Way too thin, flat, and no noticeable flavors. Just not enough there to keep my interest. $16.
Wine 5: 2002 George Faiveley Bourgogne Blanc. Burgundy. Some herbal, grassy aromas. Flavors of strong goat cheese. It's a pretty earthy wine, off-putting if you haven't drunk a lot of French wine. I think it could work when paired with the proper aromatic cheese. $19.
Wine 6: 2002 Jean Fournier Marsannay VV. Marsannay, Burgundy. Finally, the reds. This Pinot Noir is tart and crisp, with some berry flavors and a soft finish. Not outstanding, and not exactly a bargain either. $34.
Wine 7: 2002 Philippe Rivière Menuts Rouge. St. Emilion, Bordeaux. A bit of a red meat aroma, some cherry flavors, soft and well rounded with soft tannins. Mostly Merlot, of course. $17.
Wine 8: 2003 Chateau Damase Bordeaux Superieur. Bordeaux. This is 100% Merlot, which really surprised me--I was tasting some of the other Bordeaux grapes in there. I found it a little spicy and peppery, with medium tannins. Of course, this was the first wine with any real structure that we tasted, so it may have appeared more powerful in comparison. $15.
Wine 9: 2003 Chateau de Mattes-Sabran. Corbières, Languedoc. South of France, probably a lot of Carignan and who knows what else. Soft beginning, some black cherry flavors. Slightly unbalanced, but a good little wine. Really begs for some food. $15. Correction: Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. No Carignane in this wine. The owner of the winery contacted me with the correct information. Thanks!
Wine 10: 2000 Chateau Larose-Trintaudon. Haut Medoc, Bordeaux. No information on the current vintage, but lovely splash page there. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, with a good dose of Merlot and a bit of Cabernet Franc. Dry, mild, and a good bargain for this region. It has some of that characteristic green bell pepper/tomato leaf aroma and herbal flavor that turn a lot of people off. I happen to like it. I had one a few years ago that was almost like smoking a cigar. $19.
Wine 11: 2000 Domaine Forest Cairanne Côtes du Rhône Villages. Côtes du Rhône. Light fruit beginning, a dark color for a CDR. Light tasting and a perfect accompaniment for grilled pork. I think it's a Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blend, but I think there might be something else in there. $12.
Wine 12: Abbaye Sainte-Eugenie "Ame de Pierre" NV Banyuls. Rousillon, Languedoc. The name means "Soul of Pierre" and refers to a work of French literature. Mostly made from Grenache Noir, this is a fortified wine like Port, and it fact it resembles a Tawny Port in both appearance and structure. There are flavors of molasses and raisins, but it's not syrupy or overly sweet. Excellent dessert wine, and something a little different. $26.