DRINK UP Susy Atkins

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - EAT IN -

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.

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