My favorite kind of tasting are the ones I do in homes. This 'girls night' tasting was no different. A group of 7 women that just wanted to chill out and taste some wines of France. Since most people have tasted official French Champagne, I started this tasting out with a Blanquette de Limoux. A very light crisp sparkling wine from the South of France, made using the traditional method from the mauzac grape. A bit different in taste from Champagne, a lot of people noted a hint of salty-ness in the sparkler. I suggested they try a little bit of camembert cheese then try the wine again. Got a couple of fans, but I think this was a moscato d'asti crowd so anything else would be a hard sell. The only other white I served was a Vouvray, with its hints of peach and honey...the crowd was pleased. We took a cheese break (fleur verte, camembert, epoisses) and then started the reds.
A 2006 Bordeaux from Rothschild was rich with plum, blackberry, and black cherry fruit. Heavy tannins made this one a delight for the red wine lover. For those that like a bit lighter of a wine, I made note of Bordeaux regions that make a great white and also discussed Sauternes (wine made from botrysized Semillon).
One of my favorite grapes is grenache, and where better to get that in France than in the Rhone Valley. But instead of the ever popular, and oft expensive Chateauneuf du Pape, we tasted a Gigondas. I had a map of the area along with a profile of Rhone Valley wine aromas and tastes. Out of the entire group, half of the people loved the ripe red fruit and smooth flavors, the other half thought it was way too dry. This thing was split down the middle. Next up was a Banyuls, a vin doux naturale made from the grenache grape but fortified for a sweeter flavor. That same group that didn't care for the Gigondas, filled their glasses with the Banyuls. Then I served pieces of chocolate and the hostess had brownies....the official tasting went on hold for about 20 mins while everyone raved about the Banyuls. They were writing down every word on the label, taking pictures, I loved it. But before everyone got too crazy and stopped listening entirely, I served a La Coume du Roy from Maury - made from grenache and from the south of France.
What I found funny was that the people that loved the Gigondas couldn't take the sweetness of the Maury, did a little better with the chocolate and Banyuls...and those that loved the Banyuls and Maury didn't care for the Gigondas. After explaining how the same grape can taste completely different...I had a new batch of wine lovers! That was my favorite part of the tasting. And that there was more Gigondas & Bordeaux left for me ;-)