Bastille Day is upon us. Where did the year go? And…ahem…where did all the money go?
Oh, that’s right. We blew it on degustation menus, an oak panelled cellar, hand crafted crystal decanters, bottles of Cristal. . .
We kid of course. It’s Liberty! Equality! Sorority! all the way here at the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society. But we do love living it up on French wine, even when the household budget is feeling a little of the winter chill.
So, to celebrate this Quatorze Juillet we’re sharing our current fave chic French cheapies. Five wines that will have you crying ‘Let them eat cake’ as you throw back the best of the bargain bin. Vive la France!
Wines for Bastille Day – Five budget options
After threshing the lavender fields since daybreak the bloated sun is slowly setting and you feel the need to relax your burnt body and spirit. You’re only a poor peasant and you simply don’t have the energy to overthrow a government today. A simple drink will ease your tired body, and a hard earned thirst needs a big cold beer, right? Non! Where we would traditionally pull a beer, the French pour a glass of Rosé. This one has been our crowd pleasing go-to for a while now, and is perfect for impromptu picnics, poolside get-togethers and bring-a-bottle occasions when the piggy bank is just a little bit broken. It’s the pale pink colour of a harvest sunset and tastes like a big bowl of raspberry ripple ice cream, but without the cloying sweetness.
Red wine under $10? It’s definitely do-able. Especially with this juicy purple blend of soft Grenache and rich Shiraz. So approachable, and easy on the palate, we’re yet to find anyone who doesn’t get a small thrill from this medium bodied red that has lashings of blackberry and spice. It’s more of a Country Road tote bag rather than a Prada clutch, but is absolutely the right choice for a simple midweek occasion that needs style without the snobbery (or the credit card debt). Grab a huge bowl of Coq a Vin and slurp away while using your hunk of baguette to mop up the juices.
Champagne, champagne, champagne! All the glamour and glory is for the taking on Bastille Day, non? But what if you only have a teeny little something to spend? You crack the Crémant instead. Crémant is made under the méthode champenoise (i.e. in the same method as Champagne), so at least you will be giving a nod to the fancier stuff. This sparkler hails from Limoux in Languedoc-Roussillon which lays claim to being the oldest sparkling wine region in France (thus the 1531 badge). Take that Dom Pérignon! Clean green apple flavours through and through, with a lovely toasty finish. (“Are you sure this isn’t Champagne?” Our fave actual quote from a guest we served this up to!) Best served in a pretty glass when you need a friendly fizz me up.
Ignore the Grand Cru Chablis and instead head south for a white Burgundy (Chardonnay!) from a region where, thanks to the Napoleonic laws, most of the growers here are lucky to own a row of vines or two. Fresh lemon, peach & pear are unhindered by oak leaving the Cave De Lugny acidic but tightly balanced just like your chequebook should be. If the budget does not allow for oysters and langoustine then drink it with your regular order from the local fish and chip shop.
Viognier is starting to come up in favour in France – and Australia – and why not? It’s lush and complex and a bit of a quiet dazzler. Join La Révolution with this expression of an ancient grape that could easily hold court with a bottle twice the price. Complex aromas perfumed with florals of honeysuckle and jasmine, there’s a flinty feel on the tongue and a lingering chai tea finish. Enjoy whilst pontificating from your throne – or in front of the tele on the sofa.
NB: This article was originally published in July 2013, and was fully updated in July 2014.