France, a New Age of Drinkability?

France, a New Age of Drinkability?

When drinking wine and speaking of wine, France is the first country that pops into one’s mind. A country with an abundance of complexities, appellations and beauties. 

Recently, Business France organized a new edition of ‘Tastin’ France’. Here, 22 wineries presented themselves to an audience of wine professionals and press. Dutch Wine Apprentice was present to do some positive minded cherry picking.

Tastin’ France is a tasting organized by Business France, to promote French wines around the world. So much so that this event is available throughout the world, from Denmark to India. It is a well-organized tasting, with a thorough notebook and fine selection of wineries.  Join us on the hunt for some great French wines! 

Champagne Patis-Paille

Valentin Paille, the fifth generation of the winemaking family behind Champagne Patis-Paille  spoke with us at the tasting. He, a young man with plenty of courage, passion and keen eye for design actually studied design in The Netherlands. The five generations are represented on the label by five elements of the logo. 

The house is located on the right bank of the Marne valley and owns eleven hectares of vineyards stretching in between the villages of Dormans, Cuchery and Hautillers. Underneath their eleven hectares of vineyards, we see a clay and chalk soil. This clay and chalk is perfect for the impeccable Meunier grape variety. The latter being the pride and joy of the Paille family. Patis-Paille makes a ‘regular’ range of wines, but the representatives of the winery told me to taste their new champagnes. 

2022 Patis-Paille Corps Simple, Brut Nature | Meunier.

100% Meunier, from the La Croix de Verneuil limestone and clay vineyard. Its vines are fifty years old! The winemaking was done separately from every plot in the vineyard, and later blended with 0 g/L of added sugar at expedition. Important to know, is that they did not use any sulphites to preserve this champagne. On their pamphlet that Valentin handed to us, we see that Christophe, Chloé and Valentin made this champagne. 

Immediately when you start to smell this wine, you get acquainted with the personality of it all. A lot of flat peach, apricot, citrus fruit, almost yuzu and herbal. The yeast notes are present, but in a good balance with the fresh fruit. The palate is naturally dry with 0 g/L added sugar, with crispy acidity and a very fine mousse. Overall, quite well-made, balanced and not a challenge to enjoy at all.

We reward this wine with a 93-point DWA score. 

2022 Patis-Paille Les Sèves, Brut Nature | Chardonnay, Meunier, Pinot Noir.

This is a cuvée dedicated to the influence of wood on champagne. This cuvée is aged on seven-year-old French oak. But do note that there was no malolactic fermentation involved in this wine at all nor any filtration. Hence a true expression of champagne ‘sur bois’. Bâtonnage is the winemaking method that was implemented here. 

Again, we see a limestone and clay soil, but this vineyard is called Cuchery. The Cuchery is home to forty-year-old vines, accountable for the grapes of this champagne. Once again, a Brut Nature, so no added sugar. 

The profile of this wine is to be expected from what you can read above. There is the influence of the indigenous oak. The colour is deeper, and so are the aromas. More ripe fruit, peach jam rather than fresh peach. White flowers and herbaceous notes mingle together with vanilla for a well-made aromatic match.  On the palate we see a fuller body, you can taste the implementation of bâtonnage. The texture makes this quite interesting and unique. 

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score. 

2022 Patis-Paille Les Sèves, Brut – Champagne Patis-Paille.

Maison A. De Luze

The company gets its name from Baron Alfred de Luze, who in 1820 founded the company. Back in the days, the Baron was one of the pioneers in the field of exporting Bordeaux wines all over the world. The name Maison A. De Luze is now still considered an expert of Bordeaux. 

We had the pleasure to be chatting with Valérie Dirringer, who actually finds her roots in Dambach-la-Ville, Alsace. Madame Dirringer is a niece of the winemakers still in Dambach-la-Ville. She could tell us all about the company that makes and imports the many wines, and we were excited about the below wines. 

2021 Clos Laborie Margaux 

The Clos Laborie label has been created by the Portet family, which is currently the fourth generation. This Margaux is an example of the determination that is required to make Margaux. The blend is 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Aromatically this wine is challenging and intense. Dark black fruit as well as red fruit, vanilla, cedar, spices and leather as well as more oaky chocolatey notes. The palate is silky, with plenty of acidity and a full body. It is a true embodiment of Margaux, and it will age well. 

We reward this wine with a 91-point DWA score. Drink 2024-2034.

2020 Lady Laroze Saint Émilion Grand Cru

Lady Laroze is a tribute to women. Most particularly the women that helped continue the winery throughout the second world war. All the men were off to fight in the war, so nobody was available to make the wines. Evidently the women of the winery rushed in and made the wines. This also tributes the woman who founded Chateau Laroze in 1882. A situation that was quite unique as back in the days, business was run by men. Pétronille Aimé Nelly Gurchy, née Chollet got Chateau Laroze to be up and running at the age of 46. 

Lady Laroze is a Saint Emilion Grand Cru, made from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. These grapes grew only 1.5 km from the village, coming from a predominantly sandy soil. It is matured on inox and concrete vats, in which they mature until release for sixteen months. Lady Laroze is also the second wine of the namesake Chateau Laroze. 

There is a certain freshness underneath the leather, spiciness, forest floor and herbal notes. This freshness comes forth as a bramble, blackcurrant and more super fresh and juicy fruit. Mirroring this freshness, on the palate we find racy acidity and well-rounded tannins. The drinkability on this ‘old-fashioned’ is something we hope to see more in the future. When tasting this wine, we said ‘wow’!

We reward this wine with a 94-point DWA score. Drink 2024-2032.

Xavier Vignon

From what we understood from Anaëlle Jagielski, Xavier Vignon himself is both a typical winemaking, but also quite a unique man. He is a humble man, that gets his appraisal from the consumers. Xavier is a ‘master blender’, with plenty of experience in the field of winemaking. He used to be an advisor, advising to over 250 wineries. His wines equalize the typicity of the Rhone valley as well as his own personality. Xavier gets his well-deserved freedom to blend his own wines and make them just as he wants them. Some of his wines are also organic. 

2022 Cuvee Anonyme Blanc Châteauneuf-du-Pape

This white Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the pinnacle of its style. The Cuvee Anonyme is an organic wine, a blend of 45% Grenache Blanc, 30% Roussanne, 20% Clairette and 5% Picpoul. Of these varieties only Roussanne was aged in oak for four months, Clairette and Grenache Blanc were matured in stainless steel. 

The colour of this wine is an intense gold. It smells of loads of thyme, quince, pear, ripe peach and honey. Citrus fruit is abundant as well. The palate is super fresh but with a lovely body and texture. There is also a minerality that surprised us!

We reward this wine with a 92-point DWA score. Drink 2024-2027.

2019 Cuvee Anonyme Rouge Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The grapes are the typical Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah; the GSM blend. The 2019 was a hot and sunny vintage, quite expressive for the Rhone valley. Therefore, Xavier was forced to ferment the wine at lower temperature to ensure freshness. In total, it aged for eighteen months, in equal parts of thirds in concrete, truncated cone-shaped vats and demi-muids. The latter was old French oak, to once again maintain freshness and terroir expression of the wine. 

Xavier attempt to maintain freshness has succeeded! The aromas here are of fresh black fruit, loads of bramble, raspberry and orange zest. The rest is spicy, with let’s call it black pepper. The palate is textured, full-bodied and structured, with a very pleasant acidity. 

We reward this wine with a 95-point score. Drink 2024-2039.

Editor’s note: back in 2021 we reviewed the 2017 vintage of this wine, which received an equal 95-point score by us.

2019 Cuvee Anonyme Rouge Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Xavier Vignon.

NV Arcane Le Bateleur Rasteau

We do not often taste still wines that are so called non-vintage (NV) wines. It is generally not an indication for quality on the Dutch wine market. This wine proves the exact opposite! The freedom that comes with a NV wine was not taken advantage of by Xavier. It rather is an excellent ‘terroir-wine’ that deserves a place in the wine world. It is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre and 10% Carignan. 

La Bateleur is dark, smoky, intense and deeply concentrated. It marks itself with a meatiness, olive, liquorice and tea-like aromas. Black fruit and plums arrive a little bit later. The palate is naturally powerful and chocolaty. The power goes hand in hand with fresh acidity and drinkability. 

We reward this wine with a 93-point DWA score. Drink 2024-2039.

Great wines at the 2024 Edition of Tastin’ France.

Embracing Freshness: The Future of French Wines

Something that was quite distinctive in the wines that were tasted on this beautiful Monday is the drinkability. The freshness and intent of not being overly complicated. These French winemakers really do understand both winemaking and what the consumer loves. Sipping red wines at a lower temperature was also something that was mentioned quite a few times on this day. Will this be the future of French wines? More acidity, correct serving temperatures and drinkability. We do hope so! 

This article is written by our own Benjamin Roelfs. We would like to thank the team of Business France for their hospitality, and of course all wineries for their time and great wines. We would like to thank Michèle Lainé in particular. Picture credits: Business France and Dutch Wine Apprentice.