DRINK UP Susy Atkins
What, exactly, is French country wine? Cheaper bottles can be confusing, not least because the terms have changed. A basic Vin de France category was introduced in 2010 to replace the old, unloved Vin de Table. The new categorisation allows wineries to blend far and wide across different areas, but they can, helpfully, tell us the grape varieties used. Some of these wines show particular French grapes well. Aldi has a decent set of Vin de France under the Vignobles Roussellet brand. The sauvignon blanc is a refreshing, gooseberryish quaffer, the pinot noir a sweet brambly softie and the malbec, my favourite, is described below. At £4.49 each, definitely recommended. Just don’t expect anything distinctively regional.
Moving up a tier, the Vin de Pays (‘country wine’) category, where wines come from specific, stated geographical origins, was officially replaced by Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP) in 2009. Catchy, eh? The term Vin de Pays is still allowed, though, so look out for both or either on a label, and expect something of a regional style, usually still on a tight budget.
IGP/ Vin de Pays delivers, at best, the flavours of different parts of the countryside. Of the many labels in this group, first check out the ripe, rich Pays d’Oc reds, from the Languedoc, for a taste of France’s deep south.