How to Drink like a Frenchman
Sommelier Arnaud Tronche talks French wine for Bastille Day
You've dressed the table with pretty plates of breakfast radishes and delicate sour cherries. You've got your beret on and a game of petanque ready in the yard. But let's not forget about wine! You can't have a Bastille Day fête without a case or two of wine.
We spoke to Frenchman Arnaud Tronche, owner and sommelier at NYC's Racines, about why French wine is still the world's gold standard and asked what we should be drinking as we toast liberté, egalité and fraternité.
Why drink French?
We've been making wine for a long time. We've had more time to really understand terroir and we've adapted the grapes to those soils. People realized that Pinot Noir should be in Burgundy, Syrah should be in the Northern Rhône, Grenache and Mourvèdre should be in Provence and so on. This happened over hundreds of years. And now the wines have a real a sense of place, more so than in a lot of other countries. And that's what I'm looking for when I'm drinking wine. I don't want to drink something anonymous.
OK, tell us about a region whose wines we might not know.
I have a thing for Corsican wines. The wines are very clean, and they have this earthiness and slight gaminess. Producers like Antoine Arena are making are super delicious whites and reds. Drink them now though because they're scarce, and in a few years Corsica will be trendy and prices will go up.
What are some of your favorite summer reds?
Irancy is right next to Chablis, in Burgundy, and the reds are great for summer. They're a little bit austere—not too big or too hot—but with lots of mineral and ripe fruit. They're great if you want something a little lower in alcohol. David Renaud is making some really interesting examples. From the northern Rhône Valley, Dard & Ribo makes a great Crozes-Hermitage. It's a very perfumed wine that's 100 percent Syrah. Drunk slightly chilled—not cold— it has an impressive freshness.