‘French Wines’ book review part 1
I have been having a good sort out of ‘stuff’ that just seems accumulate and this included finding all my books on wine and putting them all in one place. I will now reference both the Oz Clarke and Victoria Moore books. But I do have some more and I will also use this one by Robert Joseph.
There is a lot of good chapters in this book, but for now, going to stick to the pages that describe the different grape varieties. Like lots of people who don’t know much about wine (this includes me, I am still learning) I see lots of wine labels that list the grape variety. I have never quite understood why some French wines are labelled with the region (‘Bordeaux’ or ‘Cotes de Rhone’) and some with the grape (‘Merlot’ or ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’). I hope to look at sections on regions in future posts, but in this book there are two very good pages that describe the top red and white grapes used in French wines.
As I am reviewing a red ‘Syrah-Genache’ later in this post, I am only looking at the red grape list this month.
The first thing I notice is the section about Merlots. Yes they are used in some good and more expensive wines, such as Saint Emilion, and is described as a ‘global superstar’ in the book. But as I noticed before, at the cheaper end, I found them to vary from ‘not particularly good’ to ‘pretty awful’. See my review of bargain red wines here. So I was pleased to see I was in agreement with wine expert Robert Joseph, who said that Merlots ‘can sometimes also produce very dull, weedy wine.’
The book describes both Malbec and Syrah as ‘spicy’ and Grenache as ‘peppery’ and of ‘Cote de Rhone’. More on this after a review of the Syrah-Grenache. One friend was a big fan of Pinot Noir, and although I have so far only reviewed one, I want to try more as the book says ‘Some people consider this the greatest red grape of them all’. Not sure if I am one of those people.
I have been wanting to look in more detail at Syrah wines. This was my favourite of the three free red wines when I was at Body Holiday (other two being Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon). Note that for lots of new world wines, Syrah is labelled as a Shiraz. (However they are not identical see Shiraz vs Syrah, what’s the difference.)
I have looked at this wine before in my bargain red wines post. I gave a bottle as a gift and they also really liked it . I am tasting it again this month with an old school friend who is temporarily staying with me until he sorts out job and accommodation in Leeds. (Job starting today, good luck Ranj).
- Pierre Chanau (Auchan’s own brand)
- Syrah-Grenache 2017
- Around €3.50 from Auchan
Aroma: Delicate and subtle slight cherry tones
Taste: Smooth and velvety with no roughness. Very nice maybe lacking in depth. It went well with lightly spiced vegetable and beef stew.Me
Aroma: Oaky aroma, like a lot, also smell the slight cherry
Taste: Smooth and light, not heavy. Dry but slightly sour.Ranj
Overall a very nice and smooth wine. Interesting to note that it is only 9% strength. Could that be a factor why it tasted and felt smooth and not overpowering. It is still not an expensive wine, so it does lack the depth of flavour and texture that one might want to go with a heavier meal such as a steak. I must try some stronger Syrah and Grenache red wines to see if it the grape or lower strength that made this wine so smooth. And at the price, I will definitely get more of these when I am next in Boulogne.
Review of ‘French Wines’ by Robert Joseph
I have not reviewed much of this book yet, only the overview section about red grapes. But from what I have read so far, and a quick skim through other sections, I do think that this is a very useful book to learn more about French wines. I will review other sections in future posts.
I felt I learned more about these grapes and how the relate to regions. I do like the Côtes du Rhone red wines, and Grenache is ‘The peppery grape of Côtes du Rhone’ which I often find to be good value and the lower end, but I also see that it is used for the more expensive Chateauneuf du Pape. My favourite rosés are Côtes de Provence and I see that the Grenache grape is used for those wines. Syrah is described as a ‘smoky, spicy, blackberryish grape. Sounds good to me and I will try some more.