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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sandwich, MA - French Wine & Cheese Tasting

Charlie's Weekly Wine-ing

In a previous blog, I reported on a search for Chardonnay to serve guest at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast. In August, I tasted and commented on four nice California Chardonnays. Last Friday night I had the pleasure of experiencing some French Chardonnays. The Brown Jug here in Sandwich sponsored the “Wines and Cheeses of France” with wines presented by Gary from Winebow (previously Boston Wine Company). The wines were from some of the key regions of France and were expertly pared with French cheeses by Michael and Steven from The Brown Jug.

The Brown Jug Wine Shop
We experienced seven wines matched with exceptional cheeses. It was a great education about the contrasting flavors and the impressive effect of combining the wine and cheese. The wines included: Domaine de l'Aumonier, Sauvignon blanc, Loire; Simonnet Febvre, Chablis; Saint Aubin Domaine Langoreau, Burgundy; Domaine Newman, Beaune; Clos Salomon, Givry 1er Cru, Cote Chalonnaise; Chateau Lacoste Borie, Pauillac; and finally the Drapier Grande Sendree, Champagne.  

I do not speak French and am baffled by French labels. Gary does speak French and used colorful maps to explain the origins of each of the wines. As each wine was served, I studied the label and tried to decipher what I heard Gary telling us about the wine. The first wine actually said Sauvignon Blanc, a grape I am familiar with, and “Loire”, a region of France that I had also heard of before. The next two wines were Chardonnay, but you could not tell from the bottles.

I liked the Chablis and learned that this is a sub-region of Burgundy with soil that gives the wine a very mineral flavor. This wines’ label did declare that the 2008 Simonnet Febvre was a “Grand Vin De Bourgogne.” Gary explained that Bourgogne is what the French call Burgundy. I still do not understand if Bourgogne is French for the English Burgundy, since I have also seen the word Burgundy on French bottles. For example, the next bottle we tasted was also a Chardonnay and included Burgundy on the label but was not Chablis. It didn’t get any easier with the red wines. The Domaine Newman and Clos Salmon were both Pinot Noir base wines, but neither said Burgundy or Bourgogne on the label that I could remember. I am known as a Pinot Hound, but I did not flip for either of these two. To be fair to the French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, even if I cannot read the labels, I need to taste more and should do a side by side tasting with some of my favorite California wines. Oh, what a good idea for another tasting.

All in all it was a great evening. I learned a lot about French wine and enjoyed some great cheeses. I look forward to the next Brown Jug event.    

Happy wine-ing,


Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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