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The Undiscovered Wines of France and Germany

Finding great wines to recommend to patrons or share with friends is a never ending process. With so many to choose from, singling out the ones that can attract and hold your attention, from that first exciting hint of aroma all the way through to that sad and final moment when the bottle has been exhausted, can be trying. The good news is that discovering great wines is a globe trotting adventure, rich with intriguing opportunities and sensory experiences.

When it was suggested that I attend a wine tasting (sponsored by Vins de Bordeaux and Wines of Germany), look beyond the wines that have become my longstanding favorites, and consider a few French and German varieties that defy stereotype, I was intrigued. Essentially, I was being asked to look beyond reds from the Bordeaux region of France and whites from Germany and consider a few other options.

I must inject that the most impressive discoveries I've made most recently had nothing to do with this event and were in a somewhat different class. If you have not yet experienced Becherovka, a tasty herbal liqueur from the Czech Republic, I suggest you give it a go. Perfect for sipping on the rocks or incorporating into cocktails, it's a keeper. I've also discovered Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera. With undeniably figgy notes, this dessert wine goes exceptionally well with cheese and is a delightful companion to rich, fruity bread puddings.

So back to Europe, there were a few discoveries that I look forward to investigating further. Most were from relatively small producers, making availability in different markets somewhat difficult. That being said, its probably worth asking around.

Recognizing Champagne as the go-to destination for French sparkling wine, I was somewhat surprised to find them coming from the Bordeaux region. Made by Celene Bordeaux, their Cuvée Royale Rose, NV (85% Cab Franc, 15% Merlot) was a delightfully pink experience. I could have found a chair, grabbed a good book, and spent the afternoon with this one.

Not realizing that Germany has its own sparkling wine known as Sekt, experiencing notes of peach, ripe fruit, and honeysuckle from a glass of Fitz-Ritter, Riesling Extra Trocken Sekt NV, was a pleasant encounter.

Another drinkable discovery, especially for warmer seasons, was the Villa Wolf, Pinot Gris, 2018 made by Dr. Loosen (considered a preeminent producer of Rieslings in Germany). This 100% Pinot Gris, with its notes of melon and green apple, was an enjoyable change of pace.

Out of all of the wines I sampled, my hands down favorite was the Chateau La Garde 2010, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made by Dourthe Bordeaux. Apparently, 2010 was a very good year for grapes in the Bordeaux, made quite apparent by this particular wine. Lovely on the nose and palate, this is my idea of deliciousness. If you can find it, get it.

There were many other wines that could be explored further. From Germany, there was an intriguing biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc from Pfluger, a deliciously fruity Pinot Noir from Bernhard Huber, and a dry Riesling from Nik Weis that presented an enjoyable series of flavor sensations.

From France, check out the remarkable smoothness displayed by the organic Chateau Grand Francais 2016, as well as the Chateau Lamothe Castera, Cuvee Margaux 2016, a blend of Cabernet (85%) and Merlot (15%).

All things being considered, I'd say there are some surprisingly good wines coming out of France and Germany. The only problem I have is too many choices and not enough time.

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