In Defense of The French

I just got back from Napa and one thing really stood out to me: how expensive all these California wines are. Wait, isn’t California supposed to be the haven for great, cool finds? Isn’t it France that is supposed to have absurd price tags? Those stereotypes began to irk me. You’ve got some guy who decided one day he wanted to make wine. He goes to Napa, buys berries, and charges $85 a bottle for alcoholic grape juice. Then there’s the 30 year old Frenchman. He’s an 8th generation wine maker, he’s bought his land in St. Emilion, makes highly scored and coveted wine, and is stressing about raising his 2009 bottle cost from 30 Euros to 35. Something’s not right here…

Yeah I get it, the French always seem to need defending. In the wine community today, people seem to shun and bash French wine, Bordeaux wine in particular. I get it, it’s not cool. It’s what old, rich people drink and we’re too young and cool; we have to be different. I understand that Bordeaux wines have some of the most expensive wines in the world. But that doesn’t mean that the other 9,992 producers who aren’t first growths make crazy expensive wine. They do, however, make crazy good wine. So it’s cool to drink a Gruner Veltliner every once in a while or even a Sangiovese… but there’s a reason we pronounce it Cabernay, there’s a reason we call it Grenache and not Garnacha, there’s a reason why people still call the manufacturing of sparkling wine ‘Methode Champenoise.’

Like no other culture possibly in history, the French have an obsession, a borderline fetish with beauty. Everything from the language to the architecture is designed to be beautiful. I mean doesn’t every nation have one quality that they hold above all others? The Italians value happiness, the British strive to be proper and refined, America is big, glamorous, and overly dramatic. The French strive for everything to be beautiful, so why can’t we accept they make beautiful wine? Why can’t we believe that new, exciting stuff is being made in France?

It may take going off the beaten path, but there are wines all over Bordeaux and France itself that are not only worth trying, but worth really getting in to. Try a Chinon. Grab a Provence Rose. Hell, get a St. Emilion Grand Cru. I’m not advertising that you go out and buy Lafite here. Just don’t assume all French wine is to be hated and drunk on special occasions or on yachts, if you do, you’ll surely miss out something great.

Coming next week: Our regularly scheduled programming, further stress due to not studying AT ALL for the upcoming CSW, attempts to continue my streak of Tom Cruise links (now up to 3!)

Until next time, live life well.


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