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Many wine connoisseurs, having acquired basic tasting skills and knowledge, wish to try something unusual, whether it be a rare variety or a unknown region. And some of them are looking for special wines with history. Such an example is the wines of the French Foreign Legion.
History of the French Foreign Legion
This special unit of the French army was created on March 9, 1831 by King Louis Philippe I from several regiments, some of which participated in the Revolutionary Wars.
The purpose of creating such a special army was to prepare France for the colonization of Algeria, which also meant the convocation of an army for service only outside the continental part of the country. Menm who where recruited in the Foreign Legion were foreigners, from whom a significant part of the population of Paris consisted in that period. Mostly they were citizens of European countries, as well as the French, who had problems with the law. Thus, by creating such a unit, Louis-Philippe solved two problems at once – convening the necessary army and reducing the “undesirable” sections of the population in the country. Recruits were not asked for a name, which remains a tradition to this day (new legionnaires must change their name when joining the legion).
Today, the Foreign Legion is not used to take part in wars. It performs historical tasks, participates in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population in zones of military conflicts and its evacuation, to prevent hostilities within the framework of missions under the auspices of NATO and the Unates Nations.
It would be appropriate to conclude a brief history of the Foreign Legion with its motto: “The Legion never leaves its own, neither in battle nor in life” (“La Légion n’abandonne jamais les siens, ni au combat, ni dans la vie”).
Wines of the French Foreign Legion
Attitude of this military unit towards its veterans is an embodiment of this motto. Former legionnaires can turn to a special part of the Foreign Legion – to the association of its veterans. Its task is to thank those who once faithfully served the legion, to be their home and provide them with moral and material support. The association gives veterans the opportunity to find a peaceful occupation they like, to find themselves, which is especially important after serving in hot spots. One such activity for veterans is winemaking.
Vineyards of the Legion, Domaine Capitaine Danjou, which he owns since the 1950s, are located in sunny Provence and have 40 hectares. Of these, about 1 ha are the oldest Grenache vines, planted in the “bush” or “gobelet” type. The rest of the plots were planted gradually, after a thorough analysis and preparation of the soil, because each plot was intended for a certain variety, type of wine and for wine production during 80 years.
The varieties chosen by the association of veterans for their wines are classics of the south of France. The red wines are Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre blends found in Provence and the South Rhone Valley. Rosé wines are made up primarily of Grenache, complemented by white Rolle and red Cinsault. White wines are monovarietal, only from the Rolle variety. And oenologists-consultants from Bordeaux are involved in the creation of cuvées, which make up the best assemblage, depending on the characteristics of the millesime and the maturity of the grapes.
Tasting: Cuvée des Képis Blancs, Côtes de Provence 2018
Color: pale lemon
Aroma: medium (+) intensity, very ripe and at the same time fresh in character (this is what distinguishes high-quality southern wines). The bouquet is dominated by stone fruits (white peach, apricot), wildflowers, acacia, lemon and lemon peel, with noticeable notes of honey and quince.
Palate: dry, with a sweetish oily texture, the flavor profile reflects a bouquet of aromas (peach, apricot, wild flowers), but has a more tropical character (fresh mango, melon). The body of the wine is medium, with a medium level of alcohol, a medium aftertaste and a medium acidity.
Overall impression and quality assessment: a very good wine, full-bodied, generous and sunny. Quite balanced, but a longer finish would better balance the juiciness and body.
Where and when to drink: An excellent aperitif (for example, with baked oysters), as well as a drink that can complement main dishes (white fish, like grilled dorado), parmesan risotto and medium-flavored cheeses (mature goat cheese, hard cheeses)
BLICE quality assessment
Balance – the rich profile is balanced by a sufficient level of acidity, and the ripe notes in the bouquet – by more delicate floral notes
Length of finish – medium length, with a slight citrus bitterness
Intensity – organoleptic profile (aroma and taste) of medium (+) intensity, quite expressive. Fruity and floral shades harmoniously complement each other
Complexity – predominantly fruity and floral, but quite varied
Expression / Typicity – a rich white wine typical of Provence with sufficient freshness due to the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea
Pair with salmon carpaccio with olive oil, basil and sesame seeds
Pair with fish and nori roll, risotto and seafood platter
Tasting: L’Esprit du Corps, Côtes de Provence 2018
Color: deep ruby
Aroma: medium (+) intensity, with a typical southern character. The bouquet is dominated by ripe berries (blackberries, black cherries, black plums, strawberries), with refreshing herbal hints of Provence garrigue (this term is used to describe southern fragrant herbs – rosemary, thyme, bay leaf), mint and delicate notes of violet. The depth of the bouquet is also provided by spices (black pepper) and smoky, “meat” hints characteristic of the warm southern assemblage Grenache / Syrah / Mourvedre
Palate: dry, with an expressive berry flavor, to which are added sweet hints of cherry and plum jam with more pronounced spicy pepper and fresh mint notes. A similar bouquet is also present in the average (+) finish. Medium (+) body, typicql fo southern wines, medium (+) alcohol levels and medium acidity. Tannins are medium (+), pronounced, but with a pleasant velvety texture
Overall impression and quality assessment: A very good, sunny wine with a typical southern character – a bouquet of ripe fruits with subtle hints of garrigue, a strong structure and a rich body. This rich profile is well balanced by acidity and long finish.
With what and when to drink: a great option for grilled red meat (entrecote, rib-eye steak), seasoned with black pepper, or fried in a pan with thyme and rosemary
BLICE quality assessment
Balance – rich profile is balanced by a sufficient level of acidity, and sweet notes in the bouquet are fresh herbal notes
Length of finish – rather long, mostly fruity
Intensity – organoleptic profile (aroma and taste) is expressive, with bright and distinguishable shades from different groups
Complexity – the bouquet is predominantly fruity and herbal, but varied and ripe
Expression / Typicity – wine with southern, Provencal features. Juicy, rich, with characteristic notes of dried herbs
Tasting: Cuvée du General, Côtes de Provence 2017
Premium cuvée of the Foreign Region and the best assemblage of L’Esprit du Corps. Here you can already feel the greater depth of the bouquet and more concentration, a denser body and a long finish. For this wine, the ripest and richest grapes are selected, which is clearly felt in its profile with a slight sweetness and a warming sensation from a rather high, but balanced alcohol level in the main profile. My tasting notes will tell you more about the wine.
Colour: same as Cuvée L’Esprit du Corps – deep ruby
Aroma: has a pronounced, intense aroma, with a noticeable sweetness. The bouquet has notes of plum jam, cherry jam, balanced by sour notes of ripe black cherries, ripe strawberries, as well as spicy aromas of licorice, black pepper and dried herbs. In addition, the bouquet contains the typical Grenache/Syrah/Mourvèdre assemblage meat and smoked flavors.
Palate: as pronounced as the aroma, with juicy and jammy fruity notes (black cherry, plum jam), but with a more pronounced note of dried herbs. Tannins are velvety, but pronounced – medium (+) level. The body is medium (+), which gives the wine balance and elegance. The alcohol feels like a high level, but due to the medium/medium (+) acidity, it feels lighter – as medium (+). Finish is medium (+).
Overall impression and quality assessment : very good wine, with expressive bouquet and excellent concentration, very sunny, more powerful than refined, but with its share of Provence elegance.
With what and when to drink: this concentrated wine is suitable for rich sauces and gastronomic recipes with meat with a pronounced taste (for example, game)
BLICE quality assessment
Balance – rich profile (deep body and warming alcohol) is balanced by acidity, and sweet notes in the bouquet are herbal and spicy hints
Length of finish – long, more complex than in the previous cuvee (fruity and spicy)
Intensity – the organoleptic profile is expressive, with varied and distinguishable shades
Complexity – the bouquet is various, ripe berries and confiture are especially pronounced, as well as spicy notes
Expression / Typicity – like the previous one, this wine has a southern character and typicity, but due to the best grapes specially selected for this cuvée, it is one level higher
Pair with veal tartare and balsamic syrup
Pair with ndeer fillet and tuber vegetables (mashed parsnips and roasted yellow radish)