I love all things French! As luck would have it Christy Majors, Confessions of a Culinary Diva, has begun a new monthly food and wine tour of France called The French Winophiles. I missed last month’s launch but am happy to participate this month in exploring the wonderful French region of Provence. I feel in love with Provence decades ago when I was first introduced to the region through Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence.” Mayle’s heartwarming book shares his experience of buying and renovating a home in Provence while surviving the terrible mistral that blows through the Rhône Valley in the winter, meeting the locals, hunting for truffles and eating the glorious local cuisine, all with his wife and two dogs. The reader takes a humorous and fun journey with Mayle into life in Provence as only he can share. It is a book I have read and recommended several times and I recommend it to you now.
When most people think of wines of Provence, Rosé is the first wine that comes to mind. I am no exception, in fact I currently have several Provençal Rosés in my wine cellar. Additionally, I already reviewed the Provençal Miraval Rosé this spring in my article, “Welcoming Spring with the Beauty of Rosé.” Furthermore, I have received and reviewed a bounty of Rosés this summer; therefore, rather than write another article reviewing a Rosé I decided to search out another Provençal varietal.
As a wine region Provence is largely underrated. Provence is located along the Mediterranean coast of France. Though it is known for Rosé (88% of the wines produced in Provence are Rosé), the region also produces high quality red and white wines. Provence is also the oldest wine producing region in France! Provence is a grapes heaven. It receives plenty of sunshine, not too much rain, has warm days and cool evenings, the mistrals keep the vineyards dry and free of most bugs, with limestone, granite and some volcanic soils as well as rolling hills and sloping valleys. The wine I selected was from Bandol, a predominately red grape region known for its Mourvèdre.
Le Pont 2011 Bandol Red Wine: This wine was crafted of Mourvèdre and Grenache; it poured a soft ruby into the glass and opened with aromas of red fruit, a touch of spice and a light minerality. Many of the consumer reviews of this wine on Cellartracker indicated it was a bit rough around the edges the first day so I opened it and allowed it to breathe the day before I actually drank it. The first day I took a quick sip and felt it was flavorful but the tannins were a bit harsh. On the second day when my husband and I enjoyed it with our Provencal dinner it delivered flavors of cherries, raspberries, spice, toasted walnuts and a hint of cassis and black olives; however, the tannins had mellowed and integrated quite a bit. The acidity was round in this medium body wine that offered a dry finish. The wine was pleasant and paired well with the meal; however, I would have preferred a red from Bordeaux or Burgundy over this red from Provence. 14% alcohol. SRP $19.99. I purchased from Total Wine.
To prepare a Provençal meal I went to my trusted French cooking companion, Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” in search of a dish that would express the flavors of Provence. After searching through the cookbook and Googling Provençal cuisine I decided upon Escalopes de Veau Chasseur (Sauteed Veal Scallops with Mushrooms and Tomatoes) with Tomates a la Provençal (Tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs, herbs and garlic) and sautéed green beans. I love Julia’s recipes but she often takes the long way to create a dish. As a busy modern woman I use her inspiration as well as some short cuts to create an equally flavorful and delicious meal. For example, instead of peeling, seeding and juicing a tomato I simply add a cup of crushed tomato and instead of making homemade brown sauce I add a Tablespoon of beef flavored Better than Bullion. These shortcuts cut the cooking process in half without skimping on flavor. Chances are if Julia was alive today she would embrace some of these short cuts herself!
Please take a moment to explore the other great food and wine pairings my fellow French Winophile participants discovered in Provence:
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog shares “A Tipple and Taste of Provence”
Jeff from foodwineclick indulges in “Filet de Porc au Geniévre avec Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge”
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere has created a gorgeous pairing from Provence
Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm brings us “A Taste of Provence inspired by A Pig in Provence”
David from Cooking Chat shares “Bacon Pineapple Orzo with a Rosé from Provence”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla inspires us with “Spiced Orange Salad + Cave de Saint-Roch-les-Vignes Cotes de Provence Rosé”
Anna from Anna Dishes is still whipping up her pairing
Tammy from Telling Stories from Chez Nous is creating a spectacular pairing with Rosé
Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva is sharing “A Month in Provence”
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. Then join us next month we explore the wine and cuisine of the Southwest Region of France on Saturday, August 15th.
My Song Selection: The song I have chosen comes from the movie from another one of Peter Mayle’s books by the same title, “A Good Year.” This movie starred Russel Crowe and was alos about an Englishman moving to Provence. It was a heartwarming tale with a lovely French soundtrack so please enjoy “Le Con Perdu (A Good Year), featuring Nick Ingman” by Marc Stretterfield.
Get your own bottle of Provençal wine and make a Provençal meal and let me know what song you pair with it. Cheers!