Classic French Wines for the Holidays

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  • By Samantha Dugan
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Classic French Wines for the Holidays

With all the confusing wine pairing proposals on the web and elsewhere, sticking to the classics is usually the best advice.

How many times have we all read the same article? Me , I think it has been at least fifteen thousand, not just here at our shop but all over the interwebs, newspapers and wine and food publications. Some useful information to be sure, but this thing kind of spiraled out of control as every wine shop, magazine, blog and magazine tried to, “spice things up” or stand out by offering kitschy pairings that far too often were just plain dreadful.


I remember reading, and ranting about an article from a very famous publication that suggested that we all drink Syrah with our turkey dinner. Now, not only does Syrah with turkey and yams sound like some of the worst advice I have ever read, the article actually said that you should pair the two, Thanksgiving and Syrah, because Syrah drinkers are independent thinkers.


I’m sorry, what?! Not that they aren’t, but what does that have to do with wine and food pairing? Now keep in mind I am a proponent of people drinking what they like. You love Syrah with your meal, have it and be happy. But for a wine writer to make such a silly suggestion, just sort of made me think we’ve jumped the shark on this whole pairing thing, and then some.


I absolutely understand the wanting to be cutting edge and stand out in a sea of pretty traditional wine suggestions for the big meal, but, well, it’s a traditional meal right? It’s not like the majority of us are making an entirely different Holiday meal. Some are, sure, but part of what so many love about this particular holiday meal is that it is in fact a flavor memory of years past, right? Mom or Grandma’s stuffing recipe, mashed potatoes either whipped or still chunky, the jiggly can of cranberry sauce cut in slices with the ridges from the can still on them or the chunky kind scooped from a bowl and scented with whatever your family additions might be.


Little tweaks here and there, but the comfort of holiday dining with the family is often savoring flavors from our past. That’s a good thing, right? So why the big rush to toss out tried and true wines that are best for the Thanksgiving table? Save the wild stuff for the cheese course or to sip when everyone has finished the meal. That’s when to bring out the Zinfandels and big richly textured Cabernet Sauvignon. Again, drink what you love, but if you are asking this wine specialist I am going to simply say, stick with the classics.


The following are my choices:


2015 Domaine Colette Beaujolais-Villages

What a classic Beaujolais this is! Bouncy, friendly red fruit on the nose. Cranberry and even a little red plum. Soft and super friendly in the mouth with that lovely brightness on the finish that makes Beaujolais so agreeable and appropriate with food. A bistro red if ever there were one.

$13.99 per bottle


2016 Jean-Marc Burgaud Regnie Beaujolais

A bit more the serious or savory side of Beaujolais here. There is plenty of crunchy fruit but mixed with more spice and dried herbs on the nose. On the palate is where you find all the saturated and fresh fruit and pretty floral notes. Soft in the mouth with wonderful precision and just a tough of tension. Great balance.

$18.99 per bottle


2015 Domaine de Rochebin Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy

We were blown away when we told the price on this traditional Burgundian Pinot Noir. Grown in Burgundy’s Maconnais region there is a wonderful exuberance here. You get some green aromas mixed in with red cherries and fresh mushroom. There is a fun little gamey note mid palate that make one crave a slow roasted chicken thigh or slab of perfectly cooked roast beef and would be a glorious partner to your Holiday meal.

$18.99 per bottle


2015 Jean-Luc Maldant Les Beaumonts Chorey-les-Beaun, Burgundy

Right up from you get this blast of dried flowers and herbs mingling with super vibrant red cherry fruit. There is a sexy little smoky thing in the middle and a wild note that sort of reminds me of sweet vermouth. Very light and graceful in texture with all those beguiling potpourri like aromas spilling into the palate as well. Very elegant texture with a long but far from tannic finish. Crazy good wine for this price.

$28.99 per bottle


2015 Domaine Giacometti Sempre Cuntentu Sciaccarellu, Corsica

Well isn’t that a mouthful?! Well the it might be hard to say but this light little red is so easy to drink! Domaine Giacometti is located in Corsica and the Sciaccarellu is like many wines on that French island, is a grape of Italian decent. Just a tad darker than Tavel Rose in the glass, bursting with tart berries and spice. Super delicate on the palate with cranberry and rhubarb all over the lip-smacking finish. A fantastically gulpable and fun red.

$26.99 per bottle


2015 Cave de Ribeauville Pinot Blanc, Alsace

Cave de Ribeauville is a small coop in Alsace and is one of the oldest coops in France, although to fair, they were German when they began. The growers that share their fruit with this coop are absolutely committed to producing the highest quality wines they can from their shared efforts and I think this little Pinot Blanc way over performs for its price tag. Light notes of peach and citrus with a suggestion of honey. Light body, breezy texture and wildly versatile for food.

$13.99 per bottle


2013 Domaine Foreau Vouvray Sec, Loire Valley

The Foreau estate was founded in 1923 and is now operated by the third generation of the Foreau family. These richly textured but classically produced Chenin Blancs are farmed with organic practices to ensure the health of the soils and vines, thus making amazingly pure and layered wines. This Vouvray Sec is fairly dry but just dripping with apples, pears and honey aromas and flavors. There is a fine thread of citrus rind that runs along the sides of the palate, with some slight chalky notes. Nice weight in the mouth with tons of grippy acidity. I love this now but you can surely cellar if you wish.

$36.99 per bottle


2011 Domaine Foreau Moelleux Vouvray, Loire Valley

Now this is a bit of a splurge but so absolutely worth it! Moelleux, (late picked) from Foreau is only produced in exceptional vintages and seeing as Vouvray has been struggling with severe weather issues, well there won’t likely be any made for a while. Letting the Chenin Blanc hang longer on the vines increases the sugar levels, so this is a sweeter Vouvray to be sure, but one with plenty of racy acidity which keeps it perfectly in balance. I love wines like these with Thanksgiving as I think the rich, opulent poached pear and peach flavors scream fall to me. Very sexy and curvy on the palate which carries all that sumptuous fruit beautifully. Luscious and haunting.

$54.99 per bottle


2015 Francois Chidaine Clos Du Breuil Montlouis Sur Loire, Loire Valley

We are forever spellbound by Francois Chidaine’s nearly magical hand with Chenin Blanc in the Loire Valley. He gets this power, extraction, layering and complexity from his plots in Montlouis and Vouvray. He produces a staggering array of wines from bone dry to richly saturated and sweet, but even those have brilliant acidity. One of my all time favorite winemakers in France. This vintage of Clos du Breuil is definitely on the drier end of his Montlouis but it is the texture here that makes it perfect for a wide range of complex dishes. Asian pears and holiday spiced brown butter on the nose with a shaving of wine stones and lemon rind. White peach and hints of ginger on the luscious and nearly chewy body with a invigorating snap on the finish. Super generous and craveable wine made in tiny, tiny amounts so get yours fast because we can’t get more!

$26.99 per bottle


2012 Zind Humbrecht, “Zind” Alsace White Wine

Not too often I get to say this about an Alsatian wine but, this silky white is comprised of 65% Chardonnay, not something you see too often in Alsace, and 35% Pinot Auxerois. So not something that most of has something to compare it to! Here you get a fun combination of roasted stone fruits and crisp citrus rind. Almost like an apple tart that has a little lemon curd. Not a sweet wine but a heavenly rich styled one. Think more about those porky dishes when popping the cork on this serious white wine.  

$30.99 per bottle


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