Wine review: The French have style

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From the February 20, 2014 edition

French winemakers are known for heavy hitters like Burgundy, Champagne and Beaujolais.

All three are named after their regions and considered in a class of their own; the latter is a limited-release red wine whose annual arrival is celebrated around the world every November.

And then there are wines like the 2011 Cercius ($12 at The Wine Bistro), which the bottle labels as a “vin de France white wine.” Basically, it’s a white blend from France that might as well be called table wine.

The paragraph on the back paints a dreamy picture of Rhone Valley vines tickled by Mediterranean Sea winds, but very little about the wine itself is revealed. Only the final phrase, “vinification in concrete tanks,” immediately suggests that this won’t be an oaky wine.

Intrigued? I had to try it. Feeling like I was going in blind, this taste required all of my senses.

The pour was a nice, golden yellow and had that crisp, sauvignon blanc-type aroma. The taste matched that crispness and then some — bright pear, lemon and lime flavors immediately came to mind, along with a buttery-smooth quality.

With acidity like this, immediate pairing options include something creamy that it can cut through, like goat cheese, or something spicy it can counterbalance, like Asian food.

But I still didn’t know exactly what grapes went into creating this wine. A quick online search showed I was a bit (30 percent) right on the sauvignon blanc factor, and the vast majority is grenache blanc, a cousin of the red grenache grape that yields spicy, berry flavored wine.

Grenache blanc is France’s fifth-most-planted white grape, it turns out — so while it might just be considered table wine, Cercius is an unexpectedly strong example of the French style.

Photo by Meghan Ralston