A Tipple And Taste of Provence #Winophiles

Welcome to this month’s French Winophiles!  We’re group a food and wine bloggers pulled together by Christy of Adventures of a Culinary Diva.  We’re taking a virtual tour of France region by region and learning about French cuisine, wine and travel.  This month we’re exploring the Provence.

About Provence

Whenever I think about France, three places promptly come to mind – Paris, Champagne and Provence.  I’ve been blessed to have been able to spend at least a week in both Paris and Champagne.  That leaves Provence at the top of my “Places to Visit in France”

Provence is located in Southern France bordering the Mediterranean.  For me, Provence evokes day dreams of a warm sunny days enjoying a glass of rosé at a sidewalk cafe in Nice, people watching in Cannes, touring the idyllic countryside in a convertible, strolling through perfumed fields of lavender, hiking in Haute Provence or maybe playing a game of pétanque in a town square with the locals.  There seems to be an almost endless list of things to do in Provence.

 For me, the pleasure of Provence is its diversity. In just a single day you can have a whole holiday’s worth of experiences: breakfast on the beach, a morning exploring Nice’s old town, lunch at a country auberge, an afternoon touring the hills, a vineyard visit, an early-evening shot of pastis, a game of pétanque and then an unforgettable sunset over the foothills of the Alps. Oliver Berry, Author

Wow!  And I haven’t even  talked about the food or wine yet!

The fresh, and delectable cuisine of Provence more resembles Italian, Greek, or Spanish cuisine than typical French fare.  The region is the birthplace of three world-renowned dishes: salade Nicoise, bouillabaisse and ratatouille. Other well-known Provençal foods include tapenade & anchoïade, Daube Provençale (Provençal stew), Aioli, Pissaladiere, black truffles and Pan Bagnat (hope you’re not reading this while you’re hungry).

While the archetypal Provence wine is a Cotes de Provence rosé, it is the smaller, more peripheral appellations that really make the region interesting to wine enthusiasts.The two most famous individual names from the region are located right on the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Toulon. Here, the deeply colored, richly flavored reds of Bandol are produced just 12 miles (19km) from the herby, full-bodied whites of Cassis (source).

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

Image courtesy of Wine Folly. Click to enlarge

Provençal Food and Wines

I decided to go for the Provençal trifecta (hey, it’s a the top  of my list; right?) and chose three wines –  a white from Cassis, a rosé from Cotes de Provence, and a red from Bandol.

Once chose the wines, I chose a dish I thought would pair well with each.  Here are my food and wine pairings:

2014 Château du Rouët Cuvée Réservée Tradition paired Provence-inspired Courgette & Goat Cheese Ciabatta

I prepared this dish on a lazy Sunday afternoon as an appetizer.  It’s essentially goat cheese slathered on sliced toasted Ciabatta topped with thin slices of pan-fried zucchini (courgette) lightly dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette  Goat cheese and zucchini are staples in the Provençal cuisine.

Man was this delicious!  And if you’ve ever had goat cheese and rosé, then you know  they go together peanut butter and jelly.  It was an excellent pairing!

What was intended to be an appetizer turned into a semi-meal because we gobbled down so many!.

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Pale salmon color with peach skin, strawberry and cherry aromas. On the palate it’s fresh with peach, tart strawberry, and cherry flavors with a bit of minerality and a solid finish. Nice value at $16

2012 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis paired with Chicken Pan Bagnat

Pan Bagnat which literally means “bathed bread,” in the ancient dialect of Provence is a specialty of the region of Nice. It’s a popular lunchtime dish made of favorite Provençal ingredients: tomatoes, local bell peppers, black niçoise olives, anchovies and tuna, salt, and pepper—a salade niçoise, effectively, between slices of crusty bread. I decided to substitute chicken because I thought tuna would take the sandwich more toward a rosé pairing.

Another hit! My wife – not a sandwich fan – even loved it.  It will be a staple in our picnic basket.  And it’s versatile too! I’m already looking forward to trying it with salmon or a Toasted Pan Bagnat with Mozzarella.

And pairing it with the Cassis was a winner too! The crispness, and weight of the wine accentuated the fresh flavors of the sandwich.

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Pretty golden-yellow color with sea breeze, stone-fruit, melon bergamot zest, honey and white flower aromas. On the palate, this is a wine about great texture and acidity working in harmony with peach, melon, spiced and orange zest flavors and a satisfying oily finish. Blend of Marsanne (51%), Clairette Blanc (31%) and Ugni Blanc (18%).

 2012 La Bastide Blanche Bandol paired with Daube de Boeuf Provencal(Provençal-Style Beef Stew)

Daube de Boeuf Provencal is a classic Provençal (or more broadly, French) stew made with inexpensive beef braised in wine, vegetables, garlic, and herbes de Provence, and traditionally cooked in a daubière, a braising pan.

The I used a Cooking Light version of this French Classic. It was lower in fat and calories, but full of flavor. The recipe is a winner in my book.

What can I say? I’m three for three this week! The Bandol was a luscious wine pairing for this dish.

A Tipple and Taste of Provence

Trust me, the dish was much better than my photo of said dish!

My tasting notes on the wine follow:

Dark red violet color with baked black fruit, graphite, licorice, spice and hints of roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and expressive with a supple texture blackberry, black cherry, spice flavors and an appealing minerality. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Organic fruit. Mostly mourvedre with a bit of grenache and cinsault

My favorite wine? The Cassis get the nod by a hair over the Bandol (thought I suspect it would depend on which day you ask me;)  My favorite food?  Cop out time – all of the above!

I’m more in love with Provence than ever! Whose with me?

And there’s plenty more Provençal food and wine delicousness.  Check out what my fellow French #winophiles have in store for you!

Join us Saturday, July 18th at 11 am EST/8 am PCT for a live Twitter Chat sharing wine, food and travel stories from Provence. Find us at  #winophiles.

Next month we explore the wine and cuisine of  the Southwest Region of France on Saturday, August 15th.

Relishing Food and Wine – Thanks to Julia Child! #CookForJulia #SundaySupper

I enjoy watching the Food Network.  It’s fun to see the manifestations of creativity and passion from the various TV personalities.  And of course when I think of cooking and TV personalities; top of mind for me is Julia Child.  Whenever I’ve seen her show, what alway come through is her passion for the sensual pleasures of food and wine.  Food and wine are a match made in heaven  in my book.

When I think about food and wine, I think of “foodies”, and “winos”.  How can you tell the difference between the two?  Simple, if one thinks of what food will be served then thinks about what wine will be a match, they’re a foodie.  And if one think about what wine to serve, then considers what food will pair well with it, they’re a wino!  I’m oversimplifying it a bit, but I mostly think that’s the case.  Regardless if you’re a “foodie”, or a “wino”, there are similarities.  I love the following quote from Julia Child…

Julia Child with various bottles of wine including Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc. Image courtesy of Globecorner.com

“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. The you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.” 
― Julia ChildMastering the Art of French Cooking
As Julia Child loved French food, she also loved  French wine,  so naturally I’ll recommend some.  However, French wines can be a challenge to find, and may be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated, so I’ll also includes comparable domestic wines were appropriate. My recommended wine pairing for these great Julia Child recipes follows:

Pair the following wonderful breakfast dishes with Champagne.  One of the things I love about sparkling wine is that it’s really the only wine that good for every meal!  Look for NV Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut.  If you must , add a splash of orange juice to make a mimosa (you know who you are;-) 

Pair the following lunch, sides, and dinner recipes with moderately oaked, full-bodied moderately Chardonnay. From France go with a White Burgundy from the commune of Meursault.  Look for the 2010 Domaine Bernard Millot Bourgogne Blanc.  On the domestic front, try the La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  

Pair the following entrées with a dry Riesling from Alsace.  Look for the 2007 Schlumberger Saering Riesling Grand Cru. On the domestic front, look for the 2010 Dr. Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars Dry Riesling.

Pair the following entrée and side dishes with a White Bordeaux, which is typically a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillion. Look for 2010 l’Avocat Blanc, Graves, or from California try the 2009 Clos du Val Ariadne, which is also a Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillion blend. 

Pair the following entrees with a sparkling Rosé.  From France look for Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rosé “Perle d’Aurore”, a nice blend of Pinot Noir, and Gamay from Burgundy.  From California look for Mumm Brut Rosé

Pair these entrées and side dishes with a medium-full bodied Rosé.  From France, look for the 2011 Château d’Aqueria Tavel, a Grenache-based blend from the southern Rhône Valley, or try a dry Rosé from Spain like the 2011 Muga Rosado.

Chianti, a Sangiovese based wine will be a good match for these side dishes.  Look for the 2008 Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Chianti Rùfina Castello di Nipozzano Riserva.

A Syrah, or Syrah dominant blend will be a great pairing for these hearty entrees.  Look for the 2009 E. Guigal Gigondas from the Rhône Valley, or try the 2009 Andrew Murray Vineyards Tous Les Jours Syrah from California. 

I recommend a Pinot Noir for these dishes. Look for the 2009 Bethel Heights “Estate” Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir from Oregon.

Now for the desserts!

Pair these desserts with a Sauternes,  a sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section of Bordeaux. They are made from  SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot.  They typically have apricot, honey and peach aromas,  with good acidity to keep the sweetness from being cloying.  Look for the 2009 Roûmieu-Lacoste, Sauternes.

Pair these dessert with a Port.  I recommend the Graham’s “Six Grapes” Port.

Bon Appétit!