The New French 

French wine is no longer just for trophy wine collectors and snobs, thankfully. To compete in the global market, both new and established importers are seeking out more unique, interesting, and value-driven wines from all over France. Many of the wines are coming from regions and appellations that are just establishing themselves.

Jean-Philippe Bourgeois, of the importer Bourgeois Family Selections, is practicing the "New French." "As more wine enters the market and the business of wine develops, people have become more aware and knowledgeable and have learned to appreciate finer wines and values," Bourgeois explains. "They have become more educated, and thus their palate has become more sophisticated and eager for new sensations."

Bourgeois is a French native who operates his business out of North Carolina.

"Passion and family is what pushed me into the wine business," Bourgeois says, echoing a traditional way of thinking that has been held in France for years ... with an environmentally friendly twist: "We really had no direct intent to go solely green when we set out to source the wines. We simply chose the best wines that truly excelled at their terroir and expression of the fruit. They just so happened to be organic, biodynamic, or sustainable-farmed.

"Organic wines contribute to less pollution on the earth and in your body," Bourgeois continues. "They promote a better balance within all living organisms and a respect for nature's cycles and future generations."

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The wines Bourgeois imports taste alive and vibrant, as if some natural cycle of energy is continuing within them. His traditional yet forward-thinking mindset played a major part when Bourgeois was sourcing wines for his portfolio. He made a committed effort to only pursue small family estates.

"True biodynamic farming cannot be achieved by large estates. You have to be small," Bourgeois says. "It is a choice of work, but [it's one of] philosophy above all. Winemakers [when working within small family estates] have more time and attention for the vines and grapes."

One of the most interesting wines in the portfolio is the Domaine du Crampilh "Cuvée L'Originel" from the Madiran region. The Madiran is located southwest of Bordeaux. Winemakers there specialize in the little-known grape Tannat. The Crampilh sticks to tradition with wild aromas of herb, smoke, and a meaty, chewy quality on the palate. The fullness on the nose and the palate is not at the expense of the beauty, balance, and grace of the wine. It just goes to show that the French can give you power and elegance at the same time.

Bourgeois and his wife Stephanie work the market themselves, making personal visits to Memphis to oversee wine dinners, meet with retail shops and restaurants, and interact with the public. This interaction further dissipates the long-held thought that French wine is only for the elite. Bourgeois has an energy and passion that is palpable. He lets the wines speak for themselves, and they speak volumes.

Recommended Wines

Clos Teddi Patrimonio Blanc Tradition 2006, Corsica. $22.99

Chateau Capion "1C" Rouge 2005, Languedoc. $17.99

Domaine des Florets 2006, Gigondas, Rhône Valley. $30.99

Domaine de Chateumar Cuvée Bastien 2006, Côtes du Rhône. $15.99

Domaine de la Berthete "Sensation" 2006, Côtes du Rhône. $12.99

Domaine du Crampilh "Cuvée L'Originel," Madiran. $18.99

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