Affordable is an arbitrary term. We all have our personal price preferences for wine we purchase to drink at home or at a restaurant. For most of us, triple- or quadruple-digit pricetags are out of reach for everyday drinking.
Let’s say that around $20 (~€17, ~£15 at the moment) is affordable. Sure, you’ve seen the shelves at the store and there are plenty of wines at that price point, but perhaps many of them bore you by now. This is not a story about bulk wine – I’m not taking a position on it. But I am taking the position that there are galaxies of wine available for around $20 or less, and much of this wine is indeed high-quality French wine, much of it AOP wine to boot. (AOP, for those not familiar with French wine stands for Appellation d’Origine Protégée, and indicator of where the wine originated. While not necessarily and indicator of quality, a bit of knowledge about the particular AOP will say much about the wine.)
A Prime Example in Minervois
French wine, southern French wine in particular, is my nesting site. I’ve spent much time there tasting wine and I can say that much of it ticked the affordable box. Earlier this year we visited several domaines in Minervois, an appellation in the Languedoc in southern France. Situated between two beautiful cities – Narbonne and Carcassonne – and necklaced by the Canal du Midi and the Montagne Noire, this is a place of serene natural beauty. We stopped into Chateau St. Jacques d’Albas for a tasting with Martine Bonnavenc, tasting room manager and long time employee of the domaine, which is owned by Graham Nutter. Of the staff at St. Jacques, they share:
“We are a small team. Graham Nutter and his son Andrew work alongside Martine Bonnavenc in the office and the shop, while Marc Bonnavenc and Yannick Breil do most of the heavy lifting in the fields and the winery. We are assisted by our Australian œnologue Richard Osborne. Overseeing us all is Syrah, our energetic Belgian shepherd dog, who stands guard and insists we spend more time in the fields than in the office.”
Last year I interviewed Graham Nutter for a story about The Languedoc Outsiders – a group of winemakers from around the world, settled happily now in the Languedoc – in Palate Press. At that time he told me: “…Minervois [was] chosen for climate and lifestyle as well as area’s turnaround potential. Turnaround [is] slow though, rather like changing course of a VLCC oil tanker, but still surviving on lifestyle. Transition from a multinational company environment to being an independent vigneron not evident, [it] takes time and change in behaviour. Have to be hands-on and become a multitasker, but very [it is] satisfying and time certainly doesn’t stand still. ”
It doesn’t take much convincing to become charmed with Nutter’s wines and to be swept away in fresh infatuation with the Languedoc. The fact that the wines are finding better importation routes into the US and Europe is paired with the tempting reality of the price point. After tasting the rosé series at St. Jacques d’Albas, our group was ready to pay a much higher price than the €12 tag for one of our favorite bottles. And for those of us accustomed to paying big prices and making advance reservations to taste a few sips of wine, behold Tasting Mondays – held from 10:30 am to noon every Monday during July and August. The guided tour and tasting are what they call “Magic, free, no need to reserve”. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the region and the winemaker, in preparation for the large order of wine you will like place after the tasting.
Affordable Wine with the French Winophiles
Every wine writer has similar stories, in fact the bread and butter of what compels us to write, of places and people that must be advertised and understood (at least in our opinion). This month our French Winophiles group unearths and reveals our favorite Affordable French Wine. We started out by calling the theme “French Wine Under $20” but as we aren’t necessarily economists, and perhaps dealing with currency isn’t quite our gig. So, we buttered up the price limit and are highlighting wines around 20 bucks.
On Saturday, August 19th at 10am we head to twitter to share our choices and tell the stories behind them (hashtag = #Winophiles). Food and travel are always a part of the chat, so join us for all the dimensions that affordable French wine can open. If you area blogger, You Are Invited to participate.
HOW TO JOIN US
If you are a wine writer or blogger, this is your invitation to join in!
Contact me to tell me you’re in: Include blog url, Twitter handle, and any other social media details. If you know your blog post title, include that…but you can also send that a bit closer to the event. We’d just like to get a sense of who’s participating and give some shout-outs and links as we go. Contact me here.
Send your post title to me by Wednesday, August 16th to be included in the preview post. I will prepare a preview post shortly after getting the titles, linking to your blogs. Your title may or may not include “#Winophiles.”
Publish your post between 12:01 a.m-8:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, August 16th. You can always schedule your post in advance if you will be tied up that morning.
Include links to the other #Winophiles participants in your post, and a description of what the event is about. I’ll provide the links to other participating blogs in a preview post (published around August 17th) that you can easily put in your initial post — which will link to people’s general blog url.
Get social! After the posts go live, please visit your fellow bloggers posts’ to comment and share. We have a Facebook group for participating bloggers to connect and share, too. If you need an invitation please let me know.
Sponsored posts are OK if clearly disclosed. Please be sure to disclose if your post is sponsored or if you are describing wine or other products for which you have received a free sample.