I have recently been working with Katie from Domaine Jones in Tuchan. I held a tasting on Instagram Live with Honor from Maison de la Roche the other week showing Domaine Jones’ Fitou 2017 and Muscat 2019. You can see it on IGTV here and this week she asked me to match two of her wines with recipes for her wine club. I enjoy a challenge and yesterday I cooked up several dishes to see which worked, why it worked and why it didn’t and here are my findings and the recipes.
Firstly I started with the barrel aged Grenache Gris 2013. This is a complicated wine; full-bodied and oaked, you need to serve it at the right temperature and with food for it to reveal its beauty. However not just any food as the oak can clash with some flavours. It needs flavoursome food otherwise it will overpower the dish, but be wary of spice and citrus notes. Get it right and it is a show stopper. Katie herself says that it is a wine that needs a sommelier or someone like me to show it as it is a ‘marmite’ wine, dividing the crowd! It is true I have often used it in tastings and BF (before food!) I get a mixed reaction, but once it is tasted with the dish I have prepared it gets a resounding thumbs up and is a great wine to show the importance of correct pairing! Thanks Katie!!
First things first, this wine should be decanted in advance to allow the aromas to develop, and served at 12ºC. Serve it over chilled and you numb the flavours and aromas that you are trying to coax out of the bottle by decanting. I tried three different things with it, the first was a gamble, the second I was confident of and the third a dead cert.
Firstly I tried Baba ghanoush the Middle Eastern smoked aubergine dish. I was wary of the cumin in this as cumin tends to clash with oak and this wine has a lot of oak, four years to be precise! So I put less cumin in than I normally would. Interestingly it wasn’t the cumin that was a problem but the garlic, I was too heavy handed with it. So not a perfect match but an interesting one and one that I would repeat with some adjustments, less garlic for example! The smokiness of the aubergines, the punchy olive oil and the tahini worked really well together with the Grenache Gris and the oak. This wine has a complex nose of smoke, garrigue herbs, nuts and confit fruits, it fills the palate and is very long and gets more interesting as it opens up. Not dissimilar to a dry Amontillado sherry, but without the alcohol!
Next I tried pork kebabs marinated in garrigue herbs, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil. I had a feeling that this would work and particularly when barbecued, and it did it was delicious. The pork with the rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano herbs complemented the wine beautifully and the proteins in the meat cut through the oak, softening it and rounding it out, much like tannins in a red wine. If you can’t barbecue then griddle the pork, but if you can barbecue do as it lends a delicious crunch and smokey character that worked so well with the wine. I served it with two different sauces, a buffalo mozzarella tatziki and a roast tomato and red pepper sauce. I preferred it on its own with the wine, however the tomato and pepper sauce went best out of the two.
Lastly a match that I knew would be excellent and it was! Cheese. If you have a copy of my book, A Taste of le Sud, I go into detail about wine and cheese pairing, what works best and what doesn’t and why. But let me just say here that this wine is made for cheese, it is such a fabulous match. I served it with an aged Brebis from the Pyrenees. Age is the key here, the wine is aged and so must the cheese be. You can try an aged goat, I have done that many times and it works equally well, but why not an aged Cheddar or Parmesan, tangy and crumbly works best.
She only makes one barrel a year, that is a paltry 300 bottles. So grab a bottle and make one of the dishes below and let me know how you got on, send photos!
2 large firm aubergines
1 large garlic clove
1 tsp rock salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp tahini paste
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 tbsp olive oil
- Take the diffuser (you can get these at any cookware or hardware store and they only cost a couple of Euros so are worth the investment) and put it directly onto the hob, this works on a gas hob I have never tried it on an electric. The diffuser is essential for the smoky character, you can grill the aubergines but it isn’t as good, barbecuing works but can actually be a bit too smokey.
- Pop the two washed, whole aubergines on and let them cook. The aubergines will need turning but otherwise you can leave them to do their business whilst you do something else. They are ready when the skins are black all over and the aubergine is soft to touch.
- Once ready remove with tongs and put in a bowl until cool enough to handle. When cool gently peel off the skin; it should come off easily in flakes. Remove the stalk and mash the aubergine with a fork. If cooked properly this is easily done. If a lot of juice has come off the aubergine, strain before mashing.
- In a pestle and mortar pound the garlic cloves with a large pinch of sea salt and the cumin seeds. The salt acts as a grip to the garlic whilst also seasoning the dish. When you have a garlic paste add to the aubergine mix.
- Now add the tahini. As these come in different strengths it is best to start with a large teaspoon and then add more if needed. Some brands can be very strong.
- Squeeze the juice of half a lemon and add (again more can be added if needed at the end, but lemon is not wines best friend so err on the side of caution).
- Mix well and check for seasoning, drizzle with olive oil. You can top off with a pinch of paprika and/or cayenne pepper but I wouldn’t recommend it with the wine! I think another time I will toast a tablespoon of sesame seeds and sprinkle on the top, as the toasted seeds will enhance the nutty character of the wine.
Herbed pork brochettes
500g pork escalope cut into cubes
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 large handfuls of fresh herbs – rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano picked and chopped (you can replace with a tbsp of dried Herb de Provence)
1 lemon, zest of the whole lemon and juice of half
olive oil and seasoning
wooden brochettes or rosemary stalks
- In a bowl mix the marinade ingredients together add the pork and coat thoroughly.
- Cover and marinate over night, or for at least an hour.
- Soak the brochettes in water to prevent burning, then thread the pork pieces on.
- Cook on a wood fired barbecue, at a medium heat, brushing with leftover marinade from time to time, for 10 minutes.
- Serve drizzled with olive oil and a sprig of rosemary.
- If you have a plentiful source of established rosemary you could use rosemary wood as skewers but don’t whatever you do decide to get over creative and use Oleander wood as you will poison all your guests!
- Note: if you are confident of the quality of the pork it is best served ‘just’ done. There is a tendency to overcook pork but this dates back to poor quality meat and storage. Pork becomes tough if it is overcooked, and it will continue to cook when removed from the barbecue as it rests. 5 minutes on each side on a meat hot barbecue should suffice.
For the sauces:
Tatziki:- I just mixed some fromage blanc with half a buffalo mozzarella, some diced cucumber, chopped parsley and seasoned well.
Tomato and red pepper:- In a pan sweat half a salad onion in some olive oil with finely chopped garlic, added diced red pepper and tomato, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Add a glass of water cover and reduce. Blitz in a blender with a sprig of fresh basil, can be served chilled or warm.
Tomorrow I will post part 2 and my findings with the Vieux Carignan.