There are a lot of things I like about wine. When I fancy an alcoholic drink, it's normally wine, or sparkling something that I go for. A crisp glass of cold white is a wonderful thing on a hot summer day, as is a deep bodied glass of red when the nights draw in and winter arrives (now!). Sparkling wine is perfect for celebrations, while there are many types of wine that match with all foods I can think of. And when you think you've found your perfect or favourite wine, you can spin round the globe and discover different versions of the same, and/or totally new wines. It seems that wine and my discovery of it is limitless - there's always a new wine to try or a different situation to try it in. So when asked to go on a virtual wine tour of France, up on the 31st floor of one of London's most Central buildings, I couldn't say no (apart from my vertigo, which was solved by a - staying in the middle of the room at all times, and b - sampling 10 different wines in the space of an hour!)

This wasn't an evening just to drink wine though, we were taken on a tour around France via wine, and talked through the perfect food to match each wine so I wanted to share what I learnt with you. All the wines we tried are reasonably priced, and generally widely available to buy, so each wine name will be hyperlinked to where you can buy it if you want to try any of them.

Let's start in the Northeast corner of France, with 2 great wines from the Alsace region - the white Alsace Morissons' Signature Gerwurztraminer 2013 and the red Domaine l'Agape Helios 2012. The Alsace region is right next to the German border and produces both dry and sweet wines. The white wine is a great drink to go with spicy, bold flavours, both savoury and sweet, and was one that we sampled with a delicious ceviche - a dish that could be thought of as delicate but actually holds very strong flavours of sharp, chilli and salt. You could pair this wine with Asian food, or even a spice-filled pudding. The 'Gewurz' in its name actually means spice in German. The red from Alsace has heady mushroom, truffle and coffee notes, giving it great strength, and it worked perfectly with the mushroom risotto that was paired with it.
Jumping across to the West of France, we move to wines from the Loire valley. We tried two whites from the Loire, one of which would have also paired well with the mushroom risotto thanks to its rich, musky mushroom flavour - that was the Savennieres, Domaine des Baumard, Clos du Papillon 2006, the 2nd oldest wine we tried. The other Loire wine we tried was the Muscadet Cotes de Grand Lieu, Doamine du Haut Bourg, Le Pavillon 2013. This is a really versatile wine, that is great for pairing with lots of food, think of it as a seasoning to the food - it works particularly well with shellfish dishes thanks to its zesty flavour. 

From one famous wine producing valley in the West of France, to another further East, the Rhone valley, for the next wines, which are a rose called Cotes de Provence, Chateau Miraval, 2013 and a red, Cote Roannaise, Domaine Serol, Vielles Vignes 2013. The rose was my favourite wine of the night, despite finding out that Brangelina own the vineyard - I'm not sure why I thought that was a bad thing, I guess it's just the celebrity connotation, but from what I understand, they bought it as a fully functioning, rose producing vineyard rather than pretending to be actual vintners themselves. It was a fresh, crisp pink with notes of cherries - very drinkable and light, and delicious with Thai crab cakes and sweet chilli sauce that went with it.

I also loved the bottle it came in, though I don't think that's something to judge wines by! I really enjoyed the red from the Rhone valley, and paired with the mushroom risotto it really lifted the flavour of the earthy mushrooms. The wine tasted really clear, and was a red I could imagine drinking without food as well as with.

The next 3 wines are all from the SouthWest corner of France, although each from a slightly different area. First was the Saint-Julien, Domaine Henry Martin, Chateau Haut-Beychevelle Gloria 2009 from the Bordeaux area, a really strong, heavy wine, perfect with food. It had woody aromas and went excellently with the roast beef and horseradish served with it. It is one of the more expensive wines we tried, but sometimes price does mean quality and I think that is very true with this red. I haven't linked to where you can buy this one, as I can't find it online, but am assured it's available in large Waitrose stores.

Next we go to the last white wine - Pacherenc du Vic-Bolh, Plaimont Producteurs, Saint Albert 2011, a wine produced very near the Pyrenees mountains, and therefore the Spanish border. This is a sweet wine, although not the sickly sweet wine I imagine when I think of sweet wine - it had depth to it, and would be so delicious with a tarte tatin pudding, though we sampled it with ceviche, which was a really interesting pairing for it, the sweet marmalade of the wine balancing the sharp and salty flavours from the marinated fish.

The last wine from mainland France, another sweet wine, but very different in colour from the last, Rivesaltes, Domaine Cazes, Ambre 2000 is made in the Languedoc area near Toulouse. It has an amber colour and strong dried fruit flavours, so works really well with cheese, which is what is was paired with at our tasting. I particularly liked it with the blue cheese, and can imagine serving this as a treat with the cheese course at my pop up restaurants - it would work so well with the strong Montgomery cheddar.

The final wine I want to tell you about is questionably French... it is actually from Corsica, where most residents describe themselves as Corsican rather than French, but that's not something I'm getting into!! I just want to tell you about the rather lovely wine they make. We tried the Domaine Comte Abbatucci, Faustine Vielles Vignes 2011, a perfect red for this time of year as it goes very well with grouse, teal and other game that is in season at the moment. It was a really juicy red, with a great strength to it, without being too heady. 

So there you have it, 10 new wines to try. They were all new to me, and it is so great to be exposed to exciting and different wines, and guided through them by the true professional that is Douglas Blyde. He informed and taught us whilst keep us all thoroughly entertained, and getting us all slightly inebriated. What a great way to spend a Monday evening!!



  1. That was such a lovely fun evening of wine discovery. Douglas was on great form. Love the post Rosie! R

  2. Love this run down of what was such a fun night!

    1. Thanks! It was great fun and lovely to see you :)

      Rosie xx


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