The home of Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy, France is undoubtedly the world's most important wine-producing nation. Wine has been at the heart of the French way of life for many centuries, and from the poorest families to the ruling elite no French dinner table would be complete without a bottle of wine at its heart. Key among the factors that make French wine appealing to consumers is the sheer diversity of wine produced. From the cool vineyards of Alsace and the Loire Valley to the hot, stony plots of the southern Rhone, the varied climates of France allow it to produce wines of every colour and style, and for every budget.
Terroir, the concept of the geography, topography, and climate dictating which grape varieties grow best is at the core of French viticulture. Terroir shapes a region's style and the intrinsic relationship between the grower and the land is the foundation of France's treasured relationship with the humble grape. If you could only pick one country to drink from for the rest of your life, what are the chances it would be France?
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Chateau Tour St Bonnet
The 2016 La Tour St Bonnet has quite a rich bouquet with small black cherries, pencil lead and just a little warmth suggesting maybe a day's extra maceration? The palate is soft and supple on the entry with juicy tannin, moderate complexity and a cohesive, tobacco tinged finish that needs just a touch more persistence. Drink 2020-2030. 87-89 points. Neal Martin, erobertparker.com, April 2017...read more
The 2016 Beaumont, owned by Suntory and Castel, has a rather conservative bouquet, a little backward and surly compared to its peers with undergrowth aromas coming through with aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannin, quite lithe and agile in the mouth, a wine willing to go out and please and not worry too much about cellaring. Drink 2019-2029. 88-90 points. Neal Martin, erobertparker.com, April 2017...read more
Chateau Cap de Faugeres
85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon with 100% new oak barrels. Impressive, forward black fruit nose with integrated vanilla and floral undertones. Vibrant and seductive with a blackcurrant and black cherry puree core and fused with subtle and creamy oak and hints of violet. A real sleeping beauty. Drink 2020-2028. Barrel sample. JG, April 2017....read more
The 2016 Lanessan has a perfumed, quite floral bouquet with graphite tinged black fruit—fine delineation with impressive focus, even if it is not the most complex Haut-Medoc that I encountered in this vintage out of barrel. The palate is medium-bodied with smooth tannin, well-judged acidity, plenty of black fruit with a harmonous, engaging and slightly tarry finish. This is a great Lanessan that should give 20 years of pleasure. This comes highly recommended and I expect it will land at the top of my banded score once in bottle. Drink 2020-2040. 90-92 points. Neil Martin, erobertparker.com, April 2017...read more
Punchy, bright and full bodied, the 2014 vintage of Cotes du Rhone favourite Coudolet de Beaucastel can thank an extended burst of sunshine late in the growing season for its delicious, well-balanced character. Ripe and round, with a beautiful line of fresh acidity and heady notes of herbs and spice. Known as the baby Beaucastel, each vintage of Coudolet is taken from a 30-hectare plot of vines east of the Beaucastel vineyard. The hand-picked grapes are classically macerated and aged in large oak barrels for six months. 40% Grenache, 30% Mourvedre, 20% Syrah and 10% Cinsault....read more
Maison Roche de Bellene
Another of those elusive Bordeaux wines that offer both excellent value and top quality, made by the highly-regarded Thienpont family and from a great year. Beautifully balanced, with rich fruit and fragrant spice along with a lingering finish and enough tannin and freshness to age for a couple of years yet. Great buying....read more