When you think French wine, you probably think expensive. And you might think of French cuisine or expensive fancy food.
When we got the prompt for this month’s French Winophiles — to go cross-cultural– we started thinking about the wonderful and surprising pair of lamb curry with Grenache and Cab Franc from Meeker Vineyard. We decided we wanted to try a spicy food with an inexpensive (under $20 red wine).
And that led us to something similar but different for this week’s prompt: Mexican mole sauce with French wine.
And we made it easy on ourselves: we went with a sweet black or negro mole sauce from a local restaurant that specializes in it: Maria Bonita. We had house guest and a lot going on and so I bought already roared chicken. We reheated rice we’d cooked the previous night, heated refried beans from a can, warmed corn tortillas, and I made a salad with butter lettuce, strawberries, and tangerines with a splash of citrus vinaigrette end EVOO.
Because it was Tuesday aka Taco Tuesday, I turned these ingredients into a taco — I put shredded chicken meat slathered in mole sauce in first, then added a little rice and beans, and a generous helping of salad.
So chicken mole tacos with French wine? Yes! and it worked!
2015 Pontificis Pays D’Oc Viognier Roussanne Marsanne 12.5% alc. $7
My house guest, the music journalist Tony Fletcher, was at Trader Joe’s so at the last minute I asked him to pick up a bottle of white French wine– and this is the one he chose. Tony is quite knowledgable about French wine, and when he perused the limited selection, and checked out the labels, this one stood out: he was familiar with the region and thought it might be decent, even at that price.
Wow, were we impressed. This wine isn’t just decent at the price, but quite good. A blend of 45% Viognier, 45% Roussanne , and 10% Marsanne, it has generous aromatics typical to viognier of honeysuckle, apricot, and white peach, it had the luscious mouthfeel one would expect, and while light in body, it had no flaws. We quite enjoyed it, and it paired really well with this springtime fruit and lettuce salad. It also paired well with the taco, but didn’t fare as well with the mole chicken on its own. While we expected this wine not to stand up over time, it was still very good on Wednesday when I had it with a little pesto and pasta. On Thursday we finished it up after a long drive– and it was still pleasurable.
2015 Locations “F” 15% alc. SRP $19
According to wine maker Dave Phinney, the concept behind Locations Wines is to blend the best wines from various regions in the world to create a wine that typifies that place. The idea started in France when he latched onto the “F” for France of the license plate.
“At Locations,” says Dave Phinney, “I’m able to craft compelling and unique wines that reflect my passion and decades of winemaking experience with complete freedom.”
The other day I had the good fortune to participate in an online tasting of three of the Locations wines: F for France, E for Espana, and I for Italy and where Dave Phinney (who founded Orin Swift) was along for the ride via video feed so we could ask him questions and learn more about his project. Many of us also posted our notes, photos, and thoughts about the wines on twitter using the hashtag #locationstasting.
Both Tony and I found the nose to be rich and intoxicating, and possibly our favorite part of this wine: lots of blue and red fruits particularly blueberry, raspberry, and mulberry with some earth, mushroom, and tobacco to balance it out. The color has depth. A blend of Grenache, Syrah, and “assorted Bordeaux varietals” often from old vine blocks, it has a sweetness from the high alcohol, and spicy fruit like rhubarb that paired well with the chicken in mole sauce as well as the chicken mole tacos.
This wine was a sample provided for my review consideration.
2009 Chateau Moulin de Ferrand Bordeaux Supérieur 13.5% alc. $15
A few years ago I participated in a twitter tasting where they accidentally sent me two sets of the six wines, so I cellared the second set. Last fall, we opened one of them, which we wrote about here. And we thought it would be fun to try one of these older wines with the chicken mole tacos.
While people often think they can and should cellar any wine that they can leave alone, this is not necessarily true. Most Champagne, for example, should be enjoyed in the first year or two. And this is also true of many wines in the $15-20 range: enjoy them within a few years. So we weren’t sure how this wine would hold up, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it still had plenty of fruit and fragrance, and, even more surprisingly, it was still good a few days later!
A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Chateau Moulin de Ferrand Bordeaux Supérieur offers plenty of spicy cigar box and vanilla notes along with bright cherry fruit plus herb and florals like mint, lavender, and violets. I suspect when it was younger, it might not have played so well with the spicy sweet mole sauce, but with age this wine softened nicely and worked well with the mole chicken but not so well with the mole chicken taco.
This wine is a winner offering a great value for the price.
This wine was a sample sent for my review consideration.
The French Winophiles get together each month on the third Saturday to discover an aspect of French wine, travel and cuisine! See what other cross-cultural adventures we had this month, and join us on twitter from 8-9am on the third Saturday of each month as well! Thank you to this month’s host Lauren Walsh of the Swirling Dervish! Interestingly, it looks like many of us went for spicy food and wine pairings!
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog pairs Bordeaux with Cajun and Italian Classics
- Michelle from Rockin’ Red Blog asks Do Empanadas Bordeaux?
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will match A Vin de Pays d’Oc Chardonnay and an Edible Mollusc from Monterey
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator highlights Taco Tuesday: Chicken Mole Strawberry Salad with 3 French Wines
- Jane from Always Ravenous takes us to the islands with Chicken Colombo: A Blend of Caribbean Flavors from the French West Indies
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest informs us that Tortilla Española Crosses Wine Borders
- Jill of L’occasion describes A World of Flavors in Marseille
- Peter from The Wine Analyst delves into Food & Wine – Moroccan Chicken Pastilla
- Jeff from FoodWineClick! reports as Loire Valley Wines Take the Spicy Thai Challenge
- Here at The Swirling Dervish, we covered A Feast for the Senses: Viognier and Indian Spices.