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Flavors Of Lesser-known French Varieties Can Surprise

June 20, 2018 GMT

No matter how much someone may know about wine, there are always blind spots.

This happens quite a bit regarding France, a nation where wine is made nearly everywhere but the far north. So between (and within) blue-chip regions such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and Provence, subregions or off-the-grid places exist.

Corsica may sound Italian, and the word itself is, but the island is part of France, and the local wine is called Corse. For a minute, I thought it could have been misfiled on the shelf among Loire and some other French also-rans.

Just as Hawaii is in the Pacific, Corsica is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, disconnected from the 17 other French wine regions. The bottle of Locations Corse White Wine is large and heavy with a striking, minimalistic red label. You have look closely to find that the wine is made from vermintino, an under-appreciated Italian variety. The wine smells juicily of passionfruit and white peach with a touch of apricot with brilliant flavors of green apples and citrus. It’s a delicious deal. $12.

The state had a few of these left, which you may find locally or have shipped in. It’s worth the wait.

Savoie, or Savoy, is best known as France’s skiing destination, so the idea that wine is produced there, on alpine patches warm enough to ripen them, may seem improbable. The grapes used to make wine include borrowed varieties from Rhône and some I never heard of. The wines, if they are around, are easy to find, donning a well-known shield, red with a white cross like the Swiss.

Bernard et Christophe Richel 2015 Apremont is made with a little-known white grape, Jacquere. While this wine earned some accolades in the past, its better days are behind it. It has modest pear and apple character and a sharp acidity, but overall it is a yawner, a reminder that finding French value at this price is a challenge. $10.

Buying and trying lesser-known wines can be fun, and when it comes up in conversation in the future, you have bragging rights.

GRADE: Exceptional ★★★★★, Above average ★★★★, Good ★★★, Below average ★★, Poor ★.

DAVID FALCHEK, executive director of the American Wine Society, reviews wines each week.