Let’s play the New World in France!

Not so long ago the best way, to freak out any fundamentalist French winemaker was rather easy. All you had to do and lean close to his ears and whisper: MONOCEPAGE. The effect was guaranteed. If you think of tractor-punk-socially progressive Jose Bove and the like, this recipe might still work. But what on earth is monocepage?

The term literally means a wine made of a single grape varietal. What would be the problem with that, we might ask… We all know a good Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, or – god forbid us –  a Pinot Grigio… Well, yes, in the UK, where the mass market was educated on New World Wines, this was pretty much evident. But in France, where most of the wine regions had their own combination of a little this and that, this was pretty much considered sacrilege. To use one grape variety exclusively, was considered a barbaric act.

Well, not any more. Most of the French producers, have had to learn this hard lesson. If you want to stay alive in the demanding British market, sometimes you have to give up the glorious ideas of the past…. Many of the French winemakers had to give up this fundamentalism, and join the party.

Today at Borough market, we are tasting two fantastic examples of this new-school of French winemaking.  They both come from Clairmont in the Northern Rhone valley. One is a Viognier the other a Syrah.

No other two grape varieties could represent the Rhone better, yet they almost always they end up in blends. So let’s see how the fruity, yet waxy Viognier, and the spicy, red-fruited Syrah, show us how these varieties do so perfectly well on the Rhone terroir. Do they really need that support from other varietals?

Hope to see you down here!

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  1. […] This is telling that the French have altered their styles – not only in their fresh modern straight varietals, but with their fresher, drink now, […]



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