Exploring French Winemakers from Cahors to Alsace

By tasting three bottles of wine from the likes of Fabien Jouves and Christian Binner, we visit three regions of France in the process.

As we hit the last week in January 2021, we decided to take a little trip to France to sample some of the more recent offerings that arrived in the shop. We’re lucky enough to get wines in from many different regions so we wanted to focus on three options from Southwest France just outside of Cahors, our ever favorite Loire Valley, and Alsace on the borders of Germany and Switzerland. As Jura January comes to an end, it’s great to consider other regions in France as we truck along into February.

Whether you’re looking for Fabien Jouves’ first skin contact blend or looking for a hazy, citrus forward pet nat from Christian Binner’s Les Vins Pirouettes project, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Fabien Jouves, Maceration Skin Contact (2019)

Fabien Jouves, Maceration Skin Contact (2019)

Fabien Jouves is a fifth generation winemaker from the village Trepoux-Rassiel in Southwest France. After he took over the family estate in the mid-2000s, he converted it into organic and biodynamic farming practices. The region might be most known for Malbec and Jouves, specifically, for his expressions of Malbec. But Skin-Contact is his white blend in the style, featuring Gros Manseng, Ugni Blanc, and Muscat. Like all of his other wines, these are affordable and well-designed for everyday drinking.

On the nose, this wine is wildly aromatic, with lovely floral and hints of tropical pineapple aromas. Some of these pineapple notes carry over into the palette, but tangerine is the real star of the affair, a mix of pith, acid, and a slightly oily mouthfeel for added complexity. There are some grippy tannins but the wine is not particularly vegetal or overbearing, making it a great choice for those who are a bit unsure about what skin contact wine is. This is a versatile food wine but we can see it pairing well with a host of Asian foods because of its fruit forward nature and nice structure.

Le Sot de l’Ange, Malolactix (2019)

Le Sot de l'Ange, Malolactix (2019)

Quentin Bourse is one of the rising stars of the natural wine world, having taken off a friend’s property in Azay-le-Rideau that had been certified organic before his arrival. Quentin is deeply committed to respecting the earth the vines are grown on and is known for approachable wines that appeal to a wide array of audiences.

His Malolactix, with its playful label, is a light bodied blend of Gamay and Grolleau. It’s the kind of wine that might smell like a barnyard but never goes mousy, even after being open for hours. In short, it’s a singsong wine featuring strawberry, cherry and raspberry notes balanced by softer hints of forest floor. There are some tannins but Malolactix is really about its freshness and jovial nature. It would pair well with pizza, pasta, and, if you’re feeling a little bit fancy, roast duck.

Les Vins Pirouettes by Binner & Compagnie, Le PetNat d’Eric (2018)

Les Vins Pirouettes by Binner & Compagnie, Le PetNat d'Eric (2018)

For our final wine of the week, we head to Alsace to explore the Les Vins Pirouettes project, which links Christian Binner with a variety of growers in Alsace to his winemaking expertise and distribution savvy. This particular project is about celebrating an exchange of ideas that makes Alsace such fertile grounds for natural winemaking. Le PetNat d’Eric is the perfect encapsulation of this spirit, bringing mostly Auxerrois and some Pinot Noir together for some sparkling fun.

Not all Pet Nats need to bring a ton of complexity and Le PetNat offers an array of simple pleasures. Beyond the hazy straw color in the glass, subtle floral aromas mix with tart lemon notes, a touch of green apple, lovely mineral structure, and just a touch of toastiness on the finish to round things out. Being so light and breezy, this would be the perfect 5:30 PM Happy Hour bottle with some charcuterie and cheeses. Is this grey weather getting you down? You need no other excuse to enjoying this bottle.

Enjoy the rest of your week and the last few days of January. Until next time, happy sipping!

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