On Friday evening, L, Bottlenick, and I went to the Fringe France wine tasting ($50) at Vine Arts on 17th Ave. Klaire McCallum, our host for the evening, selected wines from France’s lesser-known regions from wineries that produce only a small number of wines each year. Choosing this class was a no-brainer for me, as I have an infinite love for French wines. For this post, let’s listen to “A Bicyclette” by Yves Montand.
Vine Art’s tasting room is brand-new, located on the store’s second floor. We sipped a glass of sparkling wine and introduced ourselves to the guests closest to us.
Everyone was given a gorgeous cheese and charcuterie plate from Peasant Cheese. The brie was ripe and creamy. The gouda was even better, hard yet smooth, with a bit of texture. The charcuterie was so tasty that I chewed slowly to extract the most flavour from each bite.
The first wine we tried was the Domaine Vendange Cremant de Savoie 2021 ($26.67). We learned the location of the winery borders Switzerland and Italy, and the region produces one percent of France’s wine production. Bottlenick commented the wine was toasty. There was a breadiness to it that reminded me of champagne. Klaire recommended pairing this bubbly with alpine cuisines, such as a tartiflette. I bought a bottle of this wine and planned to bring it out while hosting a raclette dinner party.
The second wine was Domaine Nigri “Confluence” Jurancon Sec 2019 ($29.73). This winery is located in the southwest of Francy, close to Spain. Klaire described this wine as intense, with notes of passionfruit. L said it tasted tropical, while Bottlenick thought it was soft, interesting, and unique. Klaire advised pairing this wine with something rich, like foie gras or duck.
I enjoyed the third wine – Domaine des Carlines La Vouivre Cotes du Jura 2018 ($41.19). Klaire noted Jura is famous for its yellow wines and known for its dry and sweet white wine. Bottlenick and L were fans of this wine as well. Bottlenick thought it was oily, while L said it was slightly sweet. I thought it tasted good.
The fourth wine hailed from Cotes de Provence – Clos Cibonne “Cuvee Speciale Tibouren” 2021 ($58.30). Although the region is famous for its rosé wine, we tried a red wine with a see-through ruby hue. Klaire described this wine as herbal, with rosemary, thyme and lavender notes. L thought the wine tasted peppery.
There were two very interesting points Klaire shared with us about alcohol content and acidity. First, she pointed out the rosé’s alcohol content was 14%. She explained that the higher the alcohol, the more texture and feeling a wine has. Second, she mentioned that wine with high acidity makes the mouth water, while wines with lower acidity create more of a mouth-coating sensation. Klaire stated acidity in wine is desirable when paired with certain dishes, as it helps to cut into the fattiness.
The winning wine for me was the fifth tasting – L’enclos des Braves “Les Gourmands” Gaillac 2017 ($37.29). Klaire suggested pairing this wine with charred food, a stew, chilli, or soup. I loved this wine so much that I bought a bottle. I’ll break this wine out the next time I burn a dish for a party.
Our last tasting was Thunevin-Calvet Maury 1982 ($79.06). L joked that the wine was almost as old as me. I thought this wine wasn’t as sweet as it smelled and tasted a little like a raisin. This is one of the best ports / dessert wines I’ve tried.
We learned this wine is produced on mountain landscapes in a dry, hot, rugged climate. The shrubbery the grapes grow on has deep roots. Due to the poor soil, the stress on the grapes produces the best wine.
By this point in the night, everyone was comfortable, and I heard shouts of “walnut” and “bitter almond” thrown around. When asked what makes a wine worth aging, Klaire listed three things – it must have complexity, tannin structure, and acidity.
Klaire detailed how old this wine was and how this type of wine was made 400 years before the port was made through the mutage mechanism. I piped up and said I didn’t think 40 years was very old at all. The person across from me reminded me we were talking about wines, not people.
These wines were not easy drinking, patio-crushing bottles I usually consume with my girlfriends. However, Klaire noted that she picked unique wines that paired exceptionally well with food. She wanted us to try wines with attitude, not face-ripping weird wines. She succeeded – as I thoroughly enjoyed her selection.