Last Sunday, July 14, Lynn and I hosted a Bastille Day tasting of French wines. We decorated the dining and living room with French flags and served French cheeses, pâtes and appetizers, along with baguettes. There were sixteen wines in all, four whites, four rosés and eight reds, from the Loire Valley, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. We omitted Bordeaux as there would then be too many wines. A great time was had by all. Here are the most noteworthy wines, with my notes and scores.
2017 Domaine Thomas Sancerre, "Les Comtesses" ($29.99 - wine.com) - This came on as quintessential Sauvignon Blanc: light gold colored, it possessed a lovely floral nose of pear, peach, gooseberry and wet stone. The flavors were crisp and resonant, with classic calcareous minerals and a crisp finish. 18.5+/20 points.
2016 Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec, Clos du Bourg ($39.99 - Esquin) - Domaine Huet is regarded as one of the best producers of Vouvray. This one showed a brilliant gold color and ripe aromas of pear, peach, star fruit with scents of white roses, honeysuckle, jasmine and clover. The flavors were rich yet laser-like, with Chenin Blanc purity, marked by elegant fruits and a long, complex finish. 19/20 points. Not everyone, though, liked this wine. Some thought it acidic.
2015 Domaine Duc de Magenta Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot, Clos de la Chapelle, Premier Cru ($99) - This was a superb White Burgundy. Brilliant gold colored, it possessed aromas of pear, peach, citrus, minerals, white roses, pear tree blossoms and acacia flowers. The flavors were clear and laser-like, marked by Chardonnay purity and granitic minerals, followed by an ultra precise finish. 19.5/20 points.
2018 Isabelle Garrault Sancerre Rosé, "Les Grands Monts" ($25.99 - wine.com) - While Sancerre is better known for its whites, some rosé and red wines are made from Pinot Noir. This one showed a light pink color and lovely aromas of strawberry, cherry, wildflowers with minerally medium bodied red fruit flavors and a nice dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2018 Les Hauts du Vallon Bandol Rosé ($19.99 - wine.com) - Composed of 45% Mourvèdre, 45% Grenache and 10% Cinsault, this showed a real pink color and enticing aromas of strawberry, red currant, tangerine, pink roses and pink incense. The flavors were nicely extracted and balanced, with a pleasing dry finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Château des Jacques Moulin-a-Vent, Clos des Rochegres - From one of the best Crus of Beaujolais, this Gamay Noir wine was outstanding, from a great vintage. It possessed a deep ruby color and a rich, almost spicy nose of dark berries, crushed roses and violets. The flavors were thick and generous, with plenty of backbone. Sadly, the 2015 is sold out. 19/20 points.
2016 Joseph Drouhin Côtes de Nuits Villages ($32.99 - wine.com) - While not "big" Pinot, this was a real charmer. Medium brick colored, it showed lovely perfumed aromas of strawberries and red currant, and pleasing medium bodied red fruits and a velvety, nicely fruited finish. 18.5/20 points.
2015 Louis Jadot Beaune Boucherottes Premier Cru ($69.99 - wine.com) - This was quintessential Beaune Pinot Noir. Brick red colored, it emited aromas of raspberry, cherry, cassis, crushed roses and incense. The flavors were rich and fleshy, with plenty of minerals and chewy textures, followed by a long, rich finish. One of the favorites of the tasting. 19/20 points.
2013 Domaine Pierre Gelin Gevrey Chambertin Clos Prieur Premier Cru - This was another popular Pinot. It showed a brick red color and smoky aromas of strawberry, cherry, cassis, rose petals and wood smoke. The flavors were velvety yet vigorous, with an abundance of red fruits and a long finish. 19/20 points.
2015 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Crozes-Hermitage, Domaine de Thalabert ($39.99 - wine.com) - This 100% Syrah from the North Rhone Valley was another winner. Deep ruby colored, it possessed rich aromas of blueberry, black currant, crushed roses, lavender and violets. The flavors were well structured, yet smooth, with notes of licorice and schist minerals, followed by a long finish. 19/20 points.
In looking at the participants' tasting sheets, I was struck by how much variation of there was in the likes and dislikes of some of the wines. People either loved a particular wine or hated it. Wine preferences are very much personal. This is the way it should be: make your choices in wine on the basis of what you like.