Fairly new to the scene, French Blue was started by American winemaker Stephanie Rivin who set out to make Bordeaux wines that would appeal to American drinkers. She started with a rosé and then added a sauvignon blanc and a red blend. Today we are trying the newest additions to the French Blue portfolio: two crémants de Bordeaux. Sparkling wines from beyond the Champagne region of France (particularly from Burgundy) are not rare, but very few from the Bordeaux region ever make it to the U.S. The grapes used to make these wines reflect the region, with merlot figuring dominantly in both. Merlot for sparkling wine? Highly unusual! Let’s give them a try.
NV French Blue Crémant de Bordeaux Brut – 80% merlot, 13% sémillon, 7% muscadelle. This is a lovely sparkling wine. The nose is creamy and rounded with lemon curd and light notes of bready yeast. Fairly dry but fruity, the palate follows suit with gentle lemon, bright acidity, effervescent mouse, creamy character, and enticing yeast. This crémant includes none of the grapes typically used to make Champagne (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier), but it has flavors and much of the character you expect from a quality Champagne. I am delightfully surprised by the quality, particularly at this price point. A / $25
NV French Blue Crémant de Bordeaux Brut Rosé – Made with 99% merlot and 1% malbec, this wine pours pale salmon in color. This is a fruity, almost jammy sparkling wine, showing strawberry, raspberry, and cream on both the nose and palate. At midpalate, a bit of a chalky note appears, as though the fruit notes were carried by Pez candy. But there’s nice acidity here and a light stream of bubbles, which enhances the mouthfeel. Altogether, this is a solid sparkling wine for the money. B+ / $25