3 Mystery French Wines Explained

3 Mystery French Wines Explained

Welcome to binNotes | a wine blog

by. L.M. Archer,  FWS | Bourgogne ML

“Mystery is the wine of this universe. It makes us dizzy and makes us feel happy! Man needs enigma so that he can get rid of the dullness of reality!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

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Happy 2015, dear readers!

Today binNotes takes on three mystery French wines: vin jaune, vin gris, and vin de soif.

So what’s the mystery? After all, they each start with ‘vin,’ the french term for wine. They also share a common heritage – vive le France! Perhaps the answer resides in what the French refer to as ‘that which makes something unique,’ or its sui generis.

Case in point: vin jaune. While vin jaune may sound like the protagonist in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, it means ‘yellow wine.’ The wine derives its jewel-like color from fermenting late harvest Savagnin grapes for six years and three months in barrel. During fermentation, the wine develops a film of yeast, known as the voile, which imparts a nutty flavor profile similar to sherry. However, unlike sherry, vin jaune is not fortified. Locals recommend pairing vin jaune with savory dishes, Comte cheese, and walnuts.

binNotes fave: Producer Chateau D’Arlay.  Available special-order in the Seattle area at McCarthy & Schiering.

The second, vin gris means ‘grey wine.’ While a bit Dickensian in tone, the taste leaves one begging for more. The term vin gris stems from the ‘grey’ coloration (actually a light pink) produced when making white wine from red grapes, typically pinot noir or gamay. Pressing involves minimal skin contact, with fermentation typically occurs in stainless steel tanks. Think of vin gris as a more sophisticated version of rosé, and serve accordingly as an apéritif, with brunch, fish, fowl, or as a lovely grace note to any cheese course.

binNotes fave:

Robert Sinskey Vineyards Vin Gris. Pale rose-petal robe, elegant, dry, discrete finish. Hard to find – sells out upon release.

Finally…vin de soif  is not an actual wine per se, but rather a French term for “light, easy drinking wine.” Choose your vin de soif – any versatile, affordable wine that transitions easily from casual social gathering to table – for drinkability, not aging potential.

binNotes fave: Jean Perrier et Fils Savoie Abymes Cuvee Gastronomie. Made from Savoie’s regional Jacquère grape, the wine features a gold-green robe, bright acidity, and fresh finish. Distributed widely in the US, including Metropolitan Markets.

Care to share a favorite vin jaune, vin gris, or vin de soif with the binNotes community? Leave your comments below…Santé!

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Copyrighted 2015. All Rights Reserved. 

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