We leave warm and sunny Italy to explore another food and wine country: France. The country is also badly affected by the COVID-19 virus and like us, currently find themselves in a state of lockdown. You can, however, be sure that food and wine remain front of mind. In France, not a day goes by without planning what is for lunch and dinner together with “l’ apéro”, the aperitif or drink before a meal, and of course the wine to pair with each dish.
In France, the notion of terroir is at the heart of everything. We are familiar with how it applies to wine, but there is also a whole range of food from cheeses to asparagus, oysters, mushrooms and many others where terroir is at the heart of the matter. The pairing of wine with food is less complicated to the extent that the wines of the region are married to the local food. Over the next few days, we will explore only a couple of regions as France has a tremendous variety and depth of wine regions – wine students are well aware of this.
We begin in the Loire valley, north of France and along its longest river. This is a very varied wine region; boasting the largest number of appellation than any other classic wine region. The Loire valley is known as the Garden of France. The climate is mild, the soil is fertile and the land is fed water by the lovely River Loire as well as the Rivers Eure, Loiret and Cher. It has been the chosen retreat for the French aristocracy for hundreds of years. This is why, today, the countryside is dotted with a large number of fairy tale chateaux.
Our wine today is François Cotat’s Sancerre “Les Caillottes” 2017. Located around a medieval hilltop town on the left bank of the Loire Valley, Sancerre is renowned for its crisp, refreshing white wines. Sancerre from François Cotat is simply some of the most singular Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Says Derek, GD’s GM of Cotat: “What happens in this modest cellar in Chavignol is one part winemaking, three parts magic…I don’t think Francois Cotat owns a cellphone, but if one can’t get hold of him he will more than likely be in a barrel or his vineyards. These are some of the most idiosyncratic and respected wines in all of Sancerre and always accurately reflect the vintage”.
Quality Sancerre is remarkably versatile; pairing with seafood, salads, and the region’s famed goat’s milk cheeses, the crotin de Chavignol. It also makes a delicious aperitif, “Apéro”.