“We loved the vines — the ordered regularity of them against the sprawl of the mountain, the way they changed from bright green to darker green to yellow and red as spring and summer turned to autumn, the blue smoke in the pruning season as the clippings as burned, the pruned stumps studding the fields in the winter– they were meant to be here,” says Peter Mayle in A Year in Provence (page 8).
Clearly, Mayle is meant to be in Provençe as well to regale us with tales and stimulate our taste buds and inspire our desire to travel with descriptions like this that set the scene:
“The Luberon Mountains rise up immediately behind the house to a high point of nearly 3,500 feet and run in deep folds for about forty miles from west to east. cedars and pines and scrub oak keep them perpetually green and provide cover for boar, rabbit, and game birds. Wild flowers, thyme, lavender, and mushrooms grow between the rocks and under the trees, and from the summit on a clear day the view is of the Basses-Alpes on one side and the Mediterranean on the other” (page 5).
Foreshadowing many meals to come, Mayle writes. “He rhapsodized over the menu: foie gras, lobster mousse, beef encroute, salads dressed in virgin oil, handpicked cheeses, desserts of a miraculous lightness, digestifs,. It was a gastronomic aria which he performed so often he must have blistered lips”(4).
This month the French #Winophiles follow Mayle’s lead to virtually travel to Provence. For this exploration, we were encouraged to go off the beaten path — and in Provence, that means not just doing rose!
From the Wine House LA, I purchased a bottle of “rouge” 2013 Chateau Guilheim Tournier “Cuvee la Malissonne”, plus I received a sample of an exuberant and expressive kosher 2017 Roubine La Vie en Rose “Cru Classe” Côtes de Provence — and a sample book, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence! Host Wendy Klik has family who owns a used bookstore, Blue Vase Book Exchange, and they sent several of us copies.
It’s been a great read — so well written, you want to read it all aloud (and I read quite a bit of it aloud to my husband while we were on a trip to Mammoth). Most of it I read while soaking in natural mineral hot springs in the Great Basin desert of the eastern Sierra! But really, this is a perfect bedtime book: soothing to read, not too dramatic, but enough action to keep you engaged but not too much tension either!
So what did we come up with for our contribution to this month’s #Winophiles?
Below is a hint:
That’s right, herbs de Provence, supplemented with fresh picked rosemary and lavender from our garden as well as fresh thyme we purchased to make deviled eggs and to grill a tritip for a gathering of two families.
The deviled eggs were quite a hit with our gathering. We cooked them in the instant pot for the first time, then made a base of herbs, mayo, and mustard, and then we added other ingredients to some:
Provence deviled eggs 1:
plain or with olives and watercress
Provence deviled eggs 2:
with capers, tomato bruschetta, olives, fresh thyme (pro tip: if you used brined olives don’t add any more salt!)
Sue’s Roasted Olives
Buy some good quality olives from a fresh olive bar. Make a bowl out of heavy duty tin foil, place olives in the foil bowl and drizzle with olive oil, add fresh lemon, rosemary, and any other herbs you may want to add, including a herbs de Provence blend. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes stirring about every 5 minutes or so.
We were going to make a quiche too but instead opted for already prepared mini-quiche bites and mini sausage puff pastries (which I wrote about here).
watercress, spring greens, avocado, tangerines, sprouted sunflower seeds with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.
“We might treat a rabbit as a pet or become emotionally attached to a goose, but we had come from cities and supermarkets, where flesh was hygienically distanced from any resemblance to living creatures. A shrink-wrapped pork chop has a sanitized, abstract appearance that has nothing whatever to do with the warm, mucky bulk of a pig. Out here in the country there was no avoiding the direct link between death and dinner.”
2017 Roubine La Vie en Rose “Cru Classe” Côtes de Provence, France SRP $30
sample provided for my review consideration
All wines and spirits in the Royal Wine Corp. portfolio are certified OU Kosher. According to the label, it’s Kosher for Passover but not Mevushal. The cork has Hebrew writing on it.
Located in the heart of Provence and managed by owner Valérie Rouselle, Château Roubine grows 13 varieties on one of the oldest estates in France. Harvested at night and vinified separately, the grapes spend several hours in low temperature skin-contact maceration.
Color: Very pale pink rose petals, a bright and vibrant rose gold
Nose: Rose petals, peach
Palate: Peach, raspberry, honeysuckle, light minerals, nice acidity. This wine wants you to pay attention to it, it reticulates in the glass.
Pairing: Lovely with the fresh goat cheese, wonderful with the salami and prosciutto, very nice with the Quiche bites, great with salad.
Sue: “I would totally serve this with a prosciutto Quiche. It loves the eggs, they really bring out a lovely floral characteristic in the wine.” Margaret felt this was a very versatile wine that compliments salty tidbits, and she loved the color.
While a little pricey for a rose, we all felt it delivered.
2013 Chateau Guilheim Tournier “Cuvee la Malissonne” AOC Bandol, France – 14% alcohol – SRP $40
purchased at Wine House LA for $40
95% Mourvèdre, 5% Grenache
biodynamic practices, certified organic
Thanks to Google translate, I could learn a bit more about this wine beyond the recommendation I got from Wine House LA — and the information that not only it was organic but biodynamic.
According to the Château Guilhem Tournier website, “The estate is mainly made up of parcels entrusted by Henri and Geneviève Tournier to their son Guilhem.” At 27, in 2004, Guilhem took over his grandfather’s lands and in 2005, released his first vintage. The vineyard soils deep clays with a south south west aspect which benefit from cooling sea winds at the end of a hot day:
“Mourvèdre must see the sea.”
His farming methods avoid chemical treatment and are certified organic but not yet biodynamic: “The cultivation of the vine is carried out by a natural work of the soils, natural amendments (compost, manures) and cryptogamic treatments in organic culture, for a sustainable agriculture and for an authentic production with a better expression of the soil. Operations related to the vineyard as well as to the cellar are done with a respect of the lunar calendar as far as possible, and tend towards a biodynamic agriculture that wants to develop over time.” Grapes were manually harvested, then experienced “a long vatting and gentle oxygenation of the juices, gentle extraction of color and tannins, indigenous yeasts, pumping over and pigeages to refine the tannins and make the wine silky and expressive, digestible and greedy.”
So what did we think?
Color: Dense, garnet, mauve ring
Nose: Eucalyptus and menthol, chaparral, sage; it smells like our local sage brushed covered hillsides, on a warm day in spring, much as we imagine it might smell there in Provence.
Palate: Sprightly acidity, it dances across the palate, the alcohol is apparent in the back of the palate.
Pairing: Wonderful with the roasted olives. Goes well with the quiche. Great with the tritip and even the salad! I’d really like to have this wine with duck or with lamb. I’d just really like to have this wine again!
I made this wine last for a week. It changed over time but it was as wonderful on the final day as it was on the first. For the final meal, we were out at Benton Hot Springs, where it was literally freezing cold as my spouse grilled us a New York steak, baked potatoes, and cooked brussels sprouts.
This month’s French Winophiles was sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange. They provided some of our members with a copy of A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. You can find Blue Vase Book Exchange on Amazon and on Facebook.
Check out our chat on twitter by searching for the hashtag #Winophiles. Below are links to the posts by the #WInophiles for more wines from Provence.
- “A Book, An Inspired Braise, and A (Surprise!) Bottle of Red from Provençe” by Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- “At Last! A Provencal Rouge-2006 Domaine La Bastide Blanche Bandol” by Enofylz Wine Blog
- “Beef Daube Provençal with Bandol Red Wine” by Cooking Chat
- “Bellet: Provence’s Urban Appellation” by L’Occasion
- “Blanc de Bellet: Like a Bouquet of Spring Flowers!” by Keep the Peas
- “Curled up with a Bandol and a book.” by Crushed Grape Chronicles
- “Dreaming of Provence with a Rabbit Lasagna and a Clos Cibbone” by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- “Halibut with Meyer Lemon Olive Salsa and Bandol Blanc” by Always Ravenous
- “Lamb Shanks Provençal with Les Baux de Provence and Cassis” by Food Wine Click
- “Pissaladiere and a Provence Red” by Our Good Life
- “Provence: Beyond Rosé” by Kate’s Recipe Box
- “Provence: Viewing the World Through Rose Wine Glasses” by Side Hustle Wino
- “Say Oui to a Glass of Provence Rose and Succulent Seafood” by Chinese Food & Wine Pairings
- “With Love From Provence. A Biodynamic Red and a Kosher Rose with Tritip, Quiche, Soup, Salad by Wine Predator
“It was a meal that we shall never forget; more accurately, it was several meals that we shall never forget, because it went beyond the gastronomic frontiers of anything we had ever experienced, both in quantity and length. It started with homemade pizza – not one, but three: anchovy, mushroom, and cheese, and it was obligatory to have a slice of each. Plates were then wiped with pieces torn from the two-foot loaves in the middle of the table, and the next course came out. There were pates of rabbit, boar, and thrush. There was a chunky, pork-based terrine laced with marc. There were saucissons spotted with peppercorns. There were tiny sweet onions marinated in a fresh tomato sauce. Plates were wiped once more and duck was brought in… We had entire breasts, entire legs, covered in a dark, savory gravy and surrounded by wild mushrooms.
We sat back, thankful that we had been able to finish, and watched with something close to panic as plates were wiped yet again and a huge, steaming casserole was placed on the table. This was the specialty of Madame our hostess – a rabbit civet of the richest, deepest brown – and our feeble requests for small portions were smilingly ignored. We ate it. We ate the green salad with knuckles of bread fried in garlic and olive oil, we ate the plump round crottins of goat’s cheese, we ate the almond and cream gateau that the daughter of the house had prepared. That night, we ate for England.”