French wine is often seen as threatening or difficult to understand. That's unfortunate, because there's a lot of great casual and inexpensive wine from the country that just requires a little bit of knowledge and exposure. You don't even have to go there to enjoy the many wonderful valleys and lesser-known AOCs. For example...
The 9th generation Saget La Perrière winery in the Loire Valley makes some of my favorite styles of wine. Cabernet Franc from Chinon? Chenin Blanc from Vouvray? Sancerre??? I didn't get to try the Sancerre from this group, but I will be looking for it in the future.
2010 Marie de Beauregard Vouvray
Touraine, Loire Valley
100% Chenin Blanc
$16, 12.5% abv.
This wine had a big, fruity body dominated by white peach and floral elements. Just a touch of sweetness, balanced acidity, and a long, pleasant finish. Julia really enjoyed this wine, and Vouvray has been a longtime favorite of mine.
I served it with shrimp and grits, a simple salad, and a side dish of homemade cranberry sauce. How can a region so far from the coast produce wines that go so well with shellfish? I have no idea, but I won't argue with it. In theory, this meal was built as sort of a low country Thanksgiving. The grits were cooked with chicken stock and Duranguese cheese, while I quickly sautéed the shrimps with butter, vermouth, and Rogan Josh seasoning. All in all a delightful Saturday lunch, and I had plenty of leftovers, though the wine somehow managed to empty out...
2009 Marie Beauregard Chinon
Touraine, Loire Valley
100% Cabernet Franc
$19, 12.5% abv.
Oh, this was a wonderful Cabernet Franc, and while Julia was not a fan of it, I kept sniffing the glass over and over again. Strong green pepper and eucalyptus, with tobacco, licorice, leather, and black cherry. Loads of great Cab Franc character with fairly mellow tannins. Long finish. Highly recommended. One of the best things about a 100% grape wine like this is that you can understand how it contributes to other Bordeaux blends.
I grilled a burger and topped it with white onion marmalade, Muenster cheese, tomato, arugula, and served with a side of fries. The fries were a little disappointing, but the burger and wine were perfect matches for each other.
Note: These wines were received as samples.