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Friday 16 May 2014

A 1-litre bottle of French wine for $12. Is it worth taking a chance on?

When a public relations operative, albeit one that I know and like, told me that she was sending me four 1-litre bottles of wine to sample, I was less than enthusiastic. 

In the wine world you get what you pay for, and while there are several good budget Australian labels offering value for under $15 (Yalumba's Y Series, De Bortoli, Zilzie, Westend, Jacob's Creek, Yarran and others are doing good work in this segment), I had no real sense of excitement about some generic French wines in bigger-format bottles. 

But in the wine business it never pays to have preconceptions, and I have to admit that I quite enjoyed the wines under the Grand Sud label: a merlot, a shiraz, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, all from the 2012 vintage.

The merlot was the biggest surprise; a nice fleshy and very drinkable red, supple and uncomplicated with dark cherry flavours, it was streets ahead of many Australian wines made from the same variety. 

With reds from the Pays d'Oc region in the south of France (Pyrénées-Orientales, Aude, Hérault and Gard) and whites from Gascony, both home to some very good value wines, the brand was created in 1999 and takes a page out of Australia's book by being marketed as being "full of sunshine".  

Owned by a company called Le Grand Chais de France, Grand Sud is sold in 85 countries (and under screw cap in Australia, a bonus for picnic-style wines) and is the second-largest French wine brand. 

Imported into Australia by Ian Leckie, Grand Sud wines are available at Chambers Cellars and Porters Liquor outlets, and are distributed nationally by Single Vineyard Sellers.

The best way to sample these wines is to enjoy them for what they are; pour them into a carafe, as they would be served in a southern French bistro, match them with rustic dishes and enjoy with some good friends. 

They won't set your world on fire, but all of them offer decent drinking at a more than fair price.



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