A Côtes du Rhône from Franck Balthazar and a deconstructed pairing #Winophiles

2018 Côtes du Rhône from Franck Balthazar

A Côtes du Rhône from Franck Balthazar and a deconstructed pairing #Winophiles

At long last, we have a reprise from the 114 degree days.  It is time to again venture outside and perhaps in the evenings, as the stars begin to dot the sky, don a sweater.  It is time to dig back into red wines in a different way.  A Côtes du Rhône is the perfect way to ease into this season.

The French Winophiles (#Winophiles) are throwing a wide net this month with a venture into the Côtes du Rhône.  Led by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, we will explore these wines. You can read her preview post here.

Scroll to the bottom for the pieces written by my colleagues on the subject and for details on how you can join us to talk about your favorite Côtes du Rhône on Saturday, September 19th at 8 am PDT

The Rhône Valley

Vignobles de la Valée du Rhône Map of the Rhône Valley courtesy Inter Rhône
Vignobles de la Valée du Rhône Map of the Rhône Valley courtesy Inter Rhône

The Rhône Valley sits between the Massif Central and the Alps, which long ago was flooded by the Mediterranean.  The Greeks brought grapes to the region in the 4th century BC and gradually wine-growing spread north. 

In the 14th century, the papacy moved from Rome to Avignon.  Vineyards in abundance popped up in the region.  In fact, Châteauneuf de Pape was the summer residence of the Pope.

The Rhône river became a means of shipping and the “Côste du Rhône” on the right bank, became famous for its wines.  Later in the mid-19th century, it became the Côtes du Rhône and extended to include the left bank.

As you can see, this is a really old wine region.

The Côtes du Rhône AOC

The Côtes du Rhône AOC stretches from Vienne in the north to Avignon in the south taking in some 171 communes over an area of 30,000 hectares.  Over such a distance and space you can expect some variety. Within this overarching AOC, you will find many small appellations. But today we focus on the Côtes du Rhône. 

Domaine Franck Balthazar

The wine that we enjoyed is from Domaine Franck Balthazar.

This Domaine goes back to 1931 when it was founded by Franck’s grandfather Casmir.  Franck’s father René took over in 1950 and eventually moved to bottling their wines in the late 1970s or early 80s.  Franck took over in 2002 when the Domaine had just 2 hectares of vines, ½ of which were 100-year-old vines in Chaillot, and the other ½ 50-year-old vines in Mazard. 

Cotes du Rhone 2018 Franck Balthazar

Franck Balthazar

2018 Côtes du Rhône

This wine is made in a traditional (old school) manner and Franck Balthazar is a purist.  The vineyard these grapes come from 3 hectares close to Vinsobres, an AOC on the Aigues River.  They plough with a horse and do whole cluster native yeast ferments in concrete. 

The wines are aged in 600 liters demi-muids and are bottled unfiltered.

The blend is 75% Syrah and 25% Grenache, 14.1% abv. 

Imported by Savio Soares Selections, I picked this bottle up at my favorite local wine bar/shop Garagiste, for $23.

What to pair with a Côtes du Rhône?

Classic pairing for a Côtes du Rhône is Daube, a Southern Rhone stew.  Michael is not a lover of stew, so we decided to deconstruct this.

A Daube typically is a stew cooked in wine in a daubière which is a deep casserole dish or a Dutch oven.  You would cook the bacon first, then sear your meat, which is cubed.  Then you cook up onions, shallots, garlic, carrots, maybe parsnips or potatoes, add a little brandy, put the meat back in, and dump in a bottle of red wine. Top it with a bouquet garni (herbs like thyme, and rosemary), cover, and cook in the oven for a few hours.

Our deconstructed version included bacon-wrapped fillets, roast carrots with thyme and rosemary, potato cakes, and a red wine sauce for the steaks.  All the ingredients, just in a different order.

Deconstructed daube to pair with a Côtes du Rhône
Deconstructed daube to pair with a Côtes du Rhône

How was the wine? How did it pair?

This is a medium-bodied wine with a pretty big nose.  I got volcanic rocks (have you ever smelled a lava rock that has been sitting in the sun?), roasted meat, cigar box, allspice, dried herbs, berry bramble, and a little smoke (think smoke from meat roasting on a grill).  In my mouth, again I first found tobacco leaf, then currant, blackberry, and black cherry, dark juicy fruit.  While the wine was dry, I sensed a little brown sugar.

There was good acid and tannins that coated my teeth.  This was tasty and well balanced.  It is young and I bet it will age nicely, but it’s joyful enough now, that you shouldn’t wait.

I did use half a cup of this wine to make my red wine sauce and the steak with the wine was a highlight.  My potato cakes might have gone better if they had a bit more fat in them, but I drizzled some more of the red wine sauce on them and that made them perfect.  If you like stew, by all means, try the daube, it would be delicious.  Really any red meat dish that is grilled or roasted, braised or stewed, would be delicious.

Côtes du Rhône from Franck Balthazar with bacon wrapped filet, roasted carrots and potato cake.
Côtes du Rhône from Franck Balthazar with bacon wrapped filet, roasted carrots and potato cake.

The French Winophiles

I can’t wait to hear about the rest of the adventures that my fellow #Winophiles wine writers tackled!  We will be gathering on Twitter on Saturday Morning September 19th at 8 am PDT to discuss Côtes du Rhône wines.  You can join in by following and using #Winophiles.  Read on to hear more about the Côtes du Rhône!

Resources & sources

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Robin Renken CSW (photo credit RuBen Permel)

Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.

When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.

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Robin Renken
[email protected]
21 Comments
  • culinarycam
    Posted at 11:30h, 18 September Reply

    Robin, this is genius! Deconstructed Daube?!? Sounds delicious. My family, on the other hand, loves stews. But now you have me wondering how to deconstruct the goulash I had planned. Maybe…

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 12:10h, 18 September

      I have to admit, I’m likely to do this more often. (I recently started bingeing “Crazy Delicious” and it has me inspired to think outside the box). With the flavor profile, just switching around the composition, you still have all the elements for the pairing!

  • Andrea Lemieux
    Posted at 12:44h, 18 September Reply

    Both the wine and Daube sound gorgeous! I love a stew and will definitely be trying this at some point…but the thought of deconstructing stews has me totally intrigued. So many possibilities!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 12:50h, 18 September

      There are so many possibilities! I’m trying to think outside the box these days with pairings. So much often depends on what is in the pantry unless I plan far in advance!

  • confessionsofaculinarydiva
    Posted at 12:26h, 19 September Reply

    I haven’t smelled lava that has been roasting in the sun – but love the description. Great article and pairing! Cheers!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 13:02h, 19 September

      Ah…I was a Navy brat and we spent time in Hawaii, hence “lava rocks roasting in the sun”. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Cooking Chat
    Posted at 13:08h, 19 September Reply

    Delicious pairing idea! I like the way your sauce helped rescue the potato cakes. Sounds a bit like the CDR we opened last night!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 14:52h, 19 September

      Thanks! The potato cakes would have been better on their own if they had been made with cheese! Sadly, daube does not have cheese in it! Luckily, wine came to the rescue!

  • Susannah
    Posted at 14:06h, 19 September Reply

    Robin-
    I’m going to raid my son’s rock collection and put his lava rocks in the sun, Great descriptor, great photos and you made me really hungry for your deconstructed Daube.
    Cheers to you,
    Susannah

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 14:38h, 19 September

      Thanks so much, Susannah. When I was a child and we lived in Hawaii, we went on vacation to the big island. The lava in the sun had a smell I remember. Not sulfur or charcoal, it was something else and that is the scent memory that came to me with my nose in this glass.

  • Nicole Ruiz Hudson
    Posted at 15:53h, 19 September Reply

    Mmmm I love how you’ve deconstructed the Daube and I’m swooning over the bacon wrapped filet!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 17:09h, 19 September

      Thank you, Nicole!

  • advinetures
    Posted at 17:29h, 19 September Reply

    While the wine brought me to the article, I have to say that the deconstructed stew is pure brilliance. As big syrah lovers, we very much enjoy wines from this region…sounds like a lovely wine but given your tasting notes, if I find it up here, I’ll probably stash it away for a couple of years.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 18:07h, 19 September

      Thanks Allison! If only Michael liked stew. At least it keeps me creative in the kitchen.

  • Linda Whipple, CSW
    Posted at 16:31h, 20 September Reply

    What a great way to ease into fall! We do like stew in our house so I’m thinking this Daube is a winner.

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 17:52h, 20 September

      Daube or Cassoulet sound perfect with Rhones as the season changes!

  • Jane
    Posted at 13:13h, 21 September Reply

    Love the idea of deconstructing a stew – far more elegant on the plate!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 15:31h, 21 September

      I know! I love this way of elevating a dish. I look forward to trying more of this. I feel that in a pairing it gives you more range also.

  • Payal Vora
    Posted at 13:43h, 25 September Reply

    Hopefully my comment will come through this time! Love the background on the winery and absolutely love the deconstructed daube!

    • Robin Renken
      Posted at 14:42h, 25 September

      It did! We just have to approve before they appear. Never fear! Glad you enjoyed the background and the deconstructed daube.

  • Pingback:Côtes du Rhône: Essential French Wines – L'OCCASION
    Posted at 13:51h, 25 September Reply

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