April 6, 2013

 As part of the preparation for today’s blog I took an online test to ascertain whether or not I am a Francophile and apparently I am. This means that I sympathise with the culture (oui) government (non), history (peut-etre non), or people of France (de temps en temps oui) So although I was planning to blog about F for French wine regions I thought maybe I would get there in a round and about way.

I know that I am extremely lucky to spend 2 months of the year in our house in Avignon, very close to the Rhone Valley. We always have at least one lunch during the summer in the village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, probably the most famous Cru in the region (cru literally means “growth” but more often than not indicates a reputed terroir).

Terroir is a very French word. It has no direct translation into English and of course there have been many attempts to provide some sort of meaning. I like Jamie Goode’s  (of the Wine Anorak) working definition “terroir consists of the site- or region-specific characteristics of a wine”.

What is apparent is that it means different things to different people. For me, Terroir offers a sense of place .The combination of the type of soil, the topography and the climate of a certain place will have an effect on the grape varieties grown there and will thus produce a unique wine. Fabulous! But please be aware this will happen in places outside of France, c’est bon pour tout le monde! (which is good for the rest of the world).

During my wine studies I learned about the different grape varieties and where they find their preferred homes, Burgundy for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Bordeaux for Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley for Chenin Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc too) etc. Whilst in Old World terms these can technically be considered as the grape variety homelands we now know that the New World offers its very own unique wines using these grape varieties, terroir, terroir……

The french regions I referred to earlier do  offer up amazing cuisine that perfectly matches the wines they grow. Just one example: goat’s cheese from the Loire Valley (Crottin de Chavignol) with Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre AOC is a match made in heaven, heaven, made in heaven, just to make sure you got it the first time.

The Quiche is  a classic French dish.  I read, however, that the name if not the dish originated in Germany.  Quiche Lorraine is without question from that department of Northern France so that is good enough for me.  Please follow the link to another version, Leek, Mushroom & Gruyere Quiche  (I know that Gruyere cheese comes from Switzerland but it is a great recipe) – and some suggested French wine pairings.

Bon Appetit!




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