Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

UK trade's favourite French wines showcased at Absolutely Cracking tasting

Published:  27 September, 2013

Some of the wine trade's favourite French wines were on show this week at the Absolutely Cracking Wines from France tasting and Harpers is giving you the chance to win a case of specially selected wines from the event.

Now in its seventh, year the Absolutely Cracking tasting features wines that have been chosen by key figures in the UK wine trade, including sommeliers, critics, journalists, bloggers, headed up by Master Sommelier and former World's Best Sommelier,Gerard Basset. They each pick out three French wines in three price brackets to demonstrate what France can offer in these key competitive areas.

"It is a unique tasting where wines are chosen by people in the UK who know about wines," said Chris Skyrme, director PR at Sopexa UK, the French food and wine marketing agency. The tasting is also part of the French Wines with Style generic campaign. 

"The aim is to get journalists enthused," added Skyrme, "and to show wines that are trending and which regions offer great value for money". It also helps to generate "a lot of recommendations in the consumer press" and a campaign website is "coming on-stream soon".

Wine journalist Natasha Hughes has been working with Sopexa to "redefine the parameters of this year's tasting" using food and wine matching as a "way to make it even more interesting". Hughes believes that introducing an element that consumers "get" is a worthwhile endeavour when the wine industry is seeking to "engage the man and woman in the aisle" and talk to them in approachable language. 

The Absolutely Cracking tasting took place at Paramount in central London, with 154 wines covering sparkling, white, rosé, red and sweet. All the wines are available at retail outlets in the UK. Many had also been matched to the dishes available at the tasting, including fish and chips, mini burgers, bitter chocolate tart and lemon mousse.

The tasting included wines from across France including Alsace, Jura and current hotspot Corsica, along with a sizeable group from the good-value Loire region. The biggest number was from wine trade favourite Languedoc-Roussillon. There was also excellent quality northern Rhône Syrah and an encouraging showing of affordable Bordeaux: red, white, rosé and sweet. 

Here Jenny Mackenzie picks out 12 wines from the tasting for a special Harpers Absolutely Cracking case. To win the case all you have to do is email with the answer to this question by October 4.

"Which Master Sommeliers are giving masterclasses at the Harpers France Summit (which Sopexa is partnering) on October 22 at London St Ermin's hotel?"  

The wines available are:


1. AOC Crémant du Jura, Philippe Michel, Crémant du Jura 2011, Aldi, £6.99. Food match: fish and chips. 

Soft, sparkling Chardonnay from trendy Jura. Aldi has some excellent wine bargains.

2. AOC Champagne, Alexandre Bonnet, Rosé Brut NV, Ocado, £26.99. Food match: fish and chips. 

A subtle, lean and classy Pinot Noir pink Champagne. Fizz and chips? Yes please!


3. AOC Jurançon, Domaine Cauhapé, Chant des Vignes Sec 2012, The Wine Society, £8.75. 

A smoky, complex, intellectual white from Gros Manseng and Camaralet - enticing.

4. AOC Limoux, Château Rives Blanques, Le Limoux 2010, £12.50, Great Western Wine. Food match: fish and chips. 

Chardonnay, Chenin, Mauzac blend from a consistently good producer - very foodie.

5. AOC Macon-Verzé, Domaine Leflaive 2009, £19.95, Corney and Barrow. Food match: pork marinated in lemongrass and chilli. 

If you prefer white Burgundy citrussy and mineral, sans big oak, this hits the spot. 

6. AOC Savennières, Domaine des Baumard, Clos St. Yves 2007, £18.00, Davis Bell McCraith. 

The most delicious and surprising wine I've tasted in many years - Chenin heaven. 


7. IGP Haute Vallée de l'Orb, Les Coteaux de Capimont, Vallée des Arômes 2012, £6.90, Ranmore Wines. Food match: goats' cheese, green pea and mint quiche. 

This was one of my three for the tasting, to show how good Languedoc rosé is now. 


8. AOC Marcillac, Domaine du Cros, Cuvée Lo Sang del Païs 2012, £7.95-£11, The Wine Society/Keizo/Highbury Vintners.  Food match: tandoori venison. 

Savoury, meaty, mineral and fresh, a very drinkable SW red from grape Fer Servadou. 

9. IGP Côtes Catalanes, Hervé Sabardeil, Old Vines Grenache Noir 2011, £8.99, Marks and Spencer.  Food match: venison tandoori and chorizo sausage rolls. 

Grenache fans love unoaked examples. This is a well priced, versatile crowd-pleaser.

10. AOC Moulin-à-Vent, Domaines Thibault Liger-Belair, Vielles Vignes 2010, £22.95, Berry Brothers & Rudd/Lea & Sandeman. 

Cru Beaujolais can be superb quality - elegant, affordable red Burgundy alternative. 

11. AOC Côtes du Rhône, Domaine Georges Vernay, Sainte-Agathe 2012, £19.95, Berry Brothers & Rudd.  Food match: venison tandoori / mini burgers. 

Trade fave, Rhone reds can be expensive. This is a find - well-priced 100% Syrah.


12. AOC Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise, Domaine de la Pigeade 2011, £7.08 (37.5cl), Stone, Vine & Son. Food match: goats cheese, green pea and mint quiche/pumpkin and sage tortellini. 

Fortified Muscat VDN is a underrated aperitif, served icy cold. Good with cheese too.