Belfast Telegraph

Drinks Cabinet: Some Gallic stormers to ring in Bastille Day

By Sam Wylie-Harris

Celebrated across the whole of France, passions run high on Bastille Day, which marks the beginning of the French Revolution and storming of the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789.

A public holiday, spectacular fireworks, parades, music, dances and of course, fine food and wine, are all part of the celebrations and a great excuse for Francophiles to uncork a bottle, declare it 'delicieux' and share in the national pride and pleasure.

To enrich the experience, here are some classics from some of her famous wine regions that have a ring to them - and could even inspire a rendition of the national anthem, La Marseillaise...

With its rich heritage of fine sparkling wines, Saumur in the beautiful Loire Valley produces brilliant Brut bubbles made predominantly from Chenin Blanc in the traditional method. Try The Society's Saumur Brut NV, France (£9.50, which is a flirty fizz with inviting apple aromas, a honeyed, fruity freshness and crisp, dry finish. Unbeatable value.

Encouraging news for winemakers (and consumers) who draw inspiration from prestigious wine competitions, France retained the top spot as the best country in the world for award-winning wines in the Decanter World Wine Awards 2015, and received the most International Trophies.

Top drops included International Trophy for Best Chardonnay Under £15 for Marks & Spencer's Macon Villages 2014, Burgundy, France (£10, Marks & Spencer stores only). From the region's best villages, this straw-coloured Chardonnay from the far south of Burgundy has lively, orchard fruits on the nose with a touch of lemon zest and balances ripe peachy fruits with good minerality on the fresh finish.

A good entry level white from the famous Baron Philippe De Rothschild empire, Mouton Cadet Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Bordeaux AOC, France (£9.99, is an elegant sauvignon blanc. Easy drinking and aromatic with grapefruit and juicy lime aromas and a good balance of subtle grassy flavours, it finishes with cleansing acidity.

Heading south of Bordeaux to the Graves region and famous appellation of Pessac-Leognan which has been cited by experts as a top tip in value for the 2012 vintage, try La Terrasse De La Garde 2012 Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France (£16, Sainsbury's), which is the second wine of Dourthe's Chateau La Garde. Merlot dominant (early ripening, it fared better than cabernet sauvignon in the late 2012 harvest), this is a suave claret with sweet, concentrated fruit, cedar and spice, velvety tannins and a lick of blackcurrants laced in spice on the finish.

Meanwhile, the highly regarded Chateauneuf-du-Pape label is a great excuse to celebrate the very best of French wine. And what could be better than Sainsbury's own brand Taste the Difference Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2013, France (£14, Sainsbury's) which won a Great Value award at the International Wine Challenge 2015. A wine that punches well above its weight, this is a smooth, fruity drop which is so quaffable, it's impossible to stop at just one glass. Grenache once again takes centre stage, with syrah, mourvedre and cinsault complimenting the symphony of flavours. Delicieux with or without food.

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