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A French Country Red for a Song

30 Sep

C’est La Vie Pinot Noir/Syrah 2011 Vin De Pays

Last week I grilled dinner for the family: salmon and chicken with a soyaki sauce from Trader Joe’s. In preparation,  I went to a local wine store to pick up a pinot noir to enjoy with the salmon and found something I’d not seen before sporting a low-brow label. “C’est La Vie!  Pinor Noir•Syrah 2011 Vin De Pays” for $12.

So, by the label it advertises itself as a French country wine, a blend of pinot noir and syrah grapes, a young 2011, but obviously intended to be imbibed young. With a cutesy label design of bright red letters on a beige background  using a hand-drawn font and spiral notebook theme, the title is even repeated on the easy access screwtop. But enough about the label, let’s get to the juice!

The wine is bright ruby red in the glass, the nose is black cherry and raspberry with a hint of violet. The first taste is all fruit: massive red cherry and raspberry, a touch of strawberry with a note of licorice, some white pepper and spice box with a hint of clay. After the initial burst, the wine sports a nice, tart finish that leaves a slight pucker and the mouth wanting more. I tried this wine over three meals and found it paired nicely with salmon, cheese, and even with chili, believe it or not. I enjoyed it each time. This is by no means a fancy or expensive wine your guests will swoon over, but it’s a good daily table wine that pairs easily and does the job.

So why a blend of 60% pinot noir and 40% syrah? That’s not as easy as it sounds, as the two grapes would not naturally complement one another and are usually single grape wines. By itself the pinot noir might be too light, but the syrah in this blend adds power, bite and color to make a well made red that is ready to drink without aging. The careful balance of the two grapes (fruity, smooth, forward, spicy) open up the possibilities of pairing, making this wine ever more useful to the chef or host.

What I found most interesting is that red, which appears unassuming at first, is  actually a product from the established vineyards of winemaker Albert Bichon (whose name is no longer on the label) and the Languedoc Roussillon region. Imported by Gabriella Importers (a link to their site is here).

If you’re interested in some of the winemaker’s history, wines or terroir, check out this well-written article from 2007 from about Albert Bichot.

or the Bichot website here, featuring some of their premiere cru wines.

At the end of the day, this standard vin du table is a good value for your cellar when you want an inexpensive French country wine to complement your meal. 

I found this locally for $12/bottle which is on the pricier side, as online it lists from $9/bottle.

à votre santé!

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