French Wine for the Summer Season

The warm weather is here and nothing heralds the beginning of a long, hot summer like the popping of champagne corks in spring.

In preparation for the season of entertaining, we chatted to Heath Felton, founding partner of Global Grapevine, on why he loves French wine and how we can incorporate them into our summer celebrations.

Heath, who boasts an impressive portfolio of food and wine experience spanning almost 25 years, gave us this expert advice on wine pairing at dinner parties, champagne for spring racing and the benefits of being adventurous with international wines.

Why are you so passionate about bringing premium French wines to Australia?

Who doesn’t love something French? I’m passionate about wine from many regions all over the world, but French wine has always had this mystique that French equals expensive. Not true! We can all be drinking great Burgundies or Bordeaux for a great price. That doesn’t mean we should forget about the many great Australian wines we have right in our own backyard! But it’s great to see we’re becoming more adventurous, more educated and savvy about the diversity of wine and the experiences that go with that.

The Spring Racing Carnival is coming up. Can you recommend the perfect champagne for the celebrations?

The perfect champagne? Yes - Something that you can drink all day and not tire of on the palette. Many main brands are high in acidity. Look for the delicacy of a Blanc de Blanc rather than a Brut. Try Michel Gonet Blanc de Blanc. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised. If Brut is still your thing, Aspasie Carte Blanche. It’s full bodied but fresh and floral on the palette. Perfect for all day at the track.

As we approach summer, what are your recommendations for the upcoming hotter months?

Without question, La Mascaronne Quat ‘Saisons Rose. But for the non rose drinkers, be adventurous and try some varietals you may not have heard of before. Ugni Blanc is a great varietal from Provence or if you like your Italian whites, try the newly arrived Sicilian Caruso & Manini Grillo (a grape variety unique to Sicily).

What is your personal favourite French wine and what is your favourite dish to pair it with?

It would be almost impossible to narrow my favourite French wine down to just one! But heaven in a glass for me is the white wine from the appellation of St Aubin in the Cotes de Beaune region of Burgundy.

Its dinner party season, what wines would you recommend for pairing with seafood canapés and desserts?

If we’re talking French then a great Pouilly-Fuisse or Meursault never fail to hit the mark with seafood. Both are from Burgundy so are 100% chardonnay. The minerality and freshness of the wine is perfect. For a recommendation, try the Domaine Thomas Pouilly-Fuisse. Then again – Beaujolais.

Yes, I’ve some indecision - but there are so many amazing producers that Australians have never had the pleasure of experiencing! The Michel Tete Beaujolais is brilliant, and of course, exclusively available through Global Grapevine.

To go with canapés – obviously champagne! Brut is best as it’s dry and is the perfect aperitif.

Dessert – this is tricky. Champagne? Sauternes or Barsac? Mistelle? There are so many desserts and perfectly matched French wine for each of them.

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