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French wine isn’t all $1,000 a bottle. The crazy things that happens with French futures and the high-end Chateau wines from Bordeaux grab the headlines but there are plenty of tasty treats at all price points.

Here is a look at two wines, a red and a wine, which are pretty easy to find and both under $15.

madiranChateau Peyros 2006 Madiran – This southern Bordeaux wine is probably best suited for a red wine drinker who want’s to try an easily affordable Bordeaux. Madiran is the appellation area while the grapes are Cabernet and a grape that will be unfamiliar to some, Tannat.

Tannat is the dominant grape in the Madiran region and also found in Uruguay. There’s also a little Tannat grown in Virginia and California. Indiana’s Jim Butler, at Butler winery near Bloomington, recently told me he is planting some tannat.

Tannat is a grape that produces a tannic wine that is intended for aging. It’s most often blended with Cabernet and the other more traditional Bordeaux grapes.

These are dark wines with big flavor and can be quite rich and wonderful. They can also be too dry, leathery, and off-putting. Any wine with a dose of Tannat probably needs decanting.

The Chateau Peyros is easy to find but definitely needs that decant. I tasted it after pouring through a good aerator but found it lacking much fruit. I searched a few online reviews and found many agreeing with my first impression. Those who let the wine open up certainly liked it more than those of us who opened and poured.

Its a nice wine. It generally gets good marks 90-ish from critics. But on consumer driven wine review sites the wine scores lower. It’s hard to recommend this wine because many are not going to care for it. Some will even find it thin straight from the bottle. If you have the patience to decant a couple of hours or more and like trying the proverbial ‘something different,’ then Chateau Peyros is worth your try.

Chateau Peyros 2006 Madiran, $14, Recommended, with reservations noted.

clapping hands2Chateau La Tour de Beraud 2010 Costieres de Nimes – If you like tart citrus, lovely blance, and crisp acidity – clap your hands!

This is a really delightful Southern France white wine. Generally, classifying wines to the season is geeky-goofiness that just doesn’t matter. I like to live by the rule that if you like it – drink it.

I prefer these crisp whites in the summer but really loved this one in mid February with pasta. The Beraud has an aluring nose that hints of mineral and bright citrus.

beraudThere seems to be a touch of peach and a little satisfying sour/tart characteristic on the finish. The wine is made from Grenache Blanc, Rousanne and Marsanne grapes – the classic Southern French wine grapes. These are great grapes and wine blends to try. And, the Southern Rhone and Languedoc regions are making some wonderful value reds and whites which taste far above their often meager prices.

Costieres de Nimes is southern most Rhone and often associated with the ancient Romans. Romans planted some of the original vineyards in the ancient area.

Chateau La Tour de Beraud 2010 Costieres de Nimes, $9-$11, Recommended!

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com

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