When the French #Winophiles mentioned that they were going to make a “French-Style Season” the theme for our December discussion and tasting, I was all on board. I knew I wanted to pair these wines with authentic French holiday and winter foods, so…I went straight to my favorite Frenchman, Arnaud, to ask for suggestions. He had a tête à tête with one of his foodie friends in France and they put together a list for me of their favorite holiday and winter foods for gatherings. Thus began the planning for a party. These are foods and wines that are meant to be shared.
Well, the food part began there. The wines…ahhh…the wines were graciously sent from Vignobles & Signatures through Michèle Piron/Vinconnexion. 7 of their producers participated, and I received 3 wines.
I received the 3 wines as samples and I was not paid for this post. The opinions expressed here are all my own.
Château de Tracy 2017 Pouilly-Fumé
Château de Tracy has been run by the same family since the 14th century. The Domaine is 33 hectares. Soils here are limestone and flint.
This 2017 Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley comes from a vineyard overlooking the Loire. This was a tough year with spring frost that came after budbreak and limited the crop.
Quadratur Collioure Rouge 2015
This wine comes from Coume Del Mas in Banyuls/Collioure. This region is in Occitanies near the border with Spain.
Coume del Mas has only been around since 2001, when Philippe and Nathalie Gard created it. They have about 15 hectares of vines mostly on the very steep slopes near Banyuls sur Mer. Everything in the vineyard must be done by hand, you can’t get a tractor or even a horse up these steep slopes.
This wine is 50% Grenache Noir, 30% Mourvèdre and 20% Carignan. The soil is schist. Manually harvested, the berries get a cold soak and macerate for 3-5 weeks, then spend 12 months in barrel.
I was lucky enough to correspond with Andy Cook at Coume del Mas. I was looking for cheese pairings. He was a bit reserved on cheese with their red wines. They typically pair cheeses with their white wines. He suggested something creamy to smooth out the tannins. He also recommended that I decant the wine for two hours prior to serving (a tip that was used and I was rewarded!)
Château Haut Selve Red 2015
This is the 20th anniversary vintage of this wine. Yep, a new vineyard in Bordeaux. They are the only vineyard created in Bordeaux int he 20th Century. Château Haut Selve is located in the Graves appellation, they found a property that had been well known for grapes before the phylloxera epidemic. The land had been lying fallow for 120 years and was now overgrown with pine.
They took care clearing the trees and planting the vines. Owners Arnaud and Denis Lesgourgues brought in a talented crew to create a sustainable winery that has state of the art technology.
This wine is 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It spends 3 weeks in masceration and then is aged 12 months in French Oak, one third of it new.
A few other wines
Well…3 bottles was not going to do the entire party right? We needed bubbles to start the party. I referred to my Cremant post from last month and picked a few white, rather than rosé versions to start the night. Michael had really enjoyed the Levert Frères Cremant de Bourgogne so I picked up a couple bottles of that as well as of course a Cremant d’Alsace, from Lucien Albrecht.
Our friend Jill brought a bottle of Côtes de Bordeaux from Château La Grange Clinet that was 68% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. This 2015 vintage was labeled Grande Reserve. It ferments in stainless steel and then ages in oak for 12 months. The vineyard is sustainable.
We also needed a wine for with dessert so we went with a wine from Sauternes from Chateau Doisy-Védrines.
So Arnaud came up with a quick list for me of suggestions that included: Oysters, smoked salmon, foie gras, escargot, La dinde aux marrons, boudin blanc, boeuf bourguignon, pot au feu, tartiflette, raclette, mont d’Or chaud and Bûche de Noel. We narrowed down the list by time, wine pairing issues and product availability. We couldn’t find boudin blanc locally even after I had a friend with connections call around for me (Thanks Roxanne). So…here’s what we settled on.
The Cheese platter
- Haymarket aged goat cheese
- a honey goat cheese
- an herbed goat cheese
- smoked salmon
- assorted nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, filberts)
- Lobster pate with cognac
- Dijon mustard
- cherry preserves
- tomato marmalade
I’ll admit, this was for grazing and sadly we didn’t end up pairing these with the wines, just munching with the Crémant. If we had…I would expect that all of the goat cheeses would have been exceptional with the Pouilly-Fumé and the blackberries, prosciutto, gouda and compte would have played nicely with the red wines.
Butternut Squash Soup
Okay, I know this was no where on Arnaud’s list, but we needed a soup to start us out! My french tie in for this is that I found the recipe on FrenchWomenDontGetFat.com
This soup went without the cream and was lovely with the Pouilly-Fumé.
Yes, I know…this is typically a summer dish, but it really is lovely in the fall also as a vegetable side. It is so rich in flavor. So this was our vegetable dish and it was delicious.
Yep, that was on Arnaud’s list and I found a can at Cured & Whey (thanks again Roxanne). I didn’t splurge for shells and I didn’t have it in my budget to buy multiple escargot pans, so I went with a South African Recipe I found which simply cooked the escargot in butter, garlic and lemon juice and then put them in a dish, covered them with mozzerella and stuck them under the broiler. Michael has discovered that he likes escargot!
If you want to find the recipe…snails in butter on Food24
I made two versions of this extremely decadent potatoe dish! I had no idea what tartiflette was when Arnaud mentioned it. Now that I have made it, I don’t know how I lived without it!
I had a friend who is Jewish and does not eat animals (with the exception of Thanksgiving), so I wanted to make a tartiflette that she could enjoy also (no one should go without tartiflette). So I made one classic tartiflette and one with mushrooms rather than bacon. This was based on a BBC recipe for Tartiflette.
This was a slow cooker recipe based on Julia Childs recipe. It was a bit of work, but it was well worth it.
Bûche de Noël
Okay, I was going to make a Bûche de Noël. I mean I had just watched the Great British Baking Show – Holidays! So I should be good to go! I chickened out and visited Patisserie Manon and ordered one (they have amazing desserts)
How the cooking went down
So the party was on Saturday, so I shopped on Wednesday, and started cooking on Thursday (thank goodness I’m on Vacation!).
It began with making the Butternut Squash soup on Thursday. It will sit in the fridge and the flavors will marry. This way it will be even happier when I reheat it in the crock pot the day of the party.
Friday I began the boeuf bourguignon and the ratatouille. After the initial prep the boeuf spent the day in the slow cooker and then went to the fridge to become even more flavorful. I did this before the addition of the mushrooms and wine.
The ratatouille, I was a little concerned about. What if it got soggy as it waited a day to be reheated? As this was a savory fall inspired ratatouille I decided it was okay. It smelled like heaven as it cooked.
Saturday I did the tartiflettes. Roxanne at Cured & Whey had just posted a recipe using the Le délice du Jura cheese which is a Reblochon style cheese from Jura. I put the two tartiflettes together (one bacon, one mushroom) and then stuck them in the fridge until I was ready to bake them. Then I prepped the escargot in the same way, ready to have the mozzerella topping added and sit under the broiler.
Before guests arrived I laid out the cheese plates. And when we were almost ready for soup, I popped the Tartiflette in the oven, followed by the escargot.
This was a feast, so we were drinking the wine, eating the food and enjoying the company. We did have a few aha moments:
One of my guests who typically avoids white wine, was smitten by the Château de Tracy Pouilly-Fumé. And we found it went nicely with the Butternut squash soup and the Ratatouille as expected.
I was enamoured by the Quadratur. I am terrible at decanting, I am always paniced that it will lose to much. This wine with the Rhone grapes that I love was huge, but opened beautifully as it decanted. It was my favorite of the night and I enjoyed it most with the boeuf bourguignon, although it was nice with the bacon tartiflette also.
My Bordeaux loving guest, stopped dead in his tracks when he tasted the Haut Selve. He spun and looked at me and said “That’s really good!”. Again this wine was really happy with the Bouef Bourguignon.
The Bûche de Noël, beautiful as it was got lost in the fray. I presented it to a group of people in deep conversation. But we did pour tiny glasses of the Sauternes and have a toast before everyone dug in to the cake as well as the macarons that Jill brought.
This was a brilliant evening filled with great wine, food and conversation. Everything was delicious and a good time was had by all. That really seems to me exactly what a French Style Season should be.
And….it makes for outstanding leftovers which we enjoyed with the Crémant D’Alsace the next day!
Join Us to chat on Twitter
There were many other French #Winophiles taking part in this French Style Season. We will be gathering on Saturday December 15th, to discuss the wines and the foods on Twitter.We hope you’ll join– 8am PT, 11 am ET, and 5pm in France— and chat with us (I know 8 am is early Pacific time, but I’ll be up for it!) It’s easy to participate: just log in to Twitter at the times mentioned and follow #Winophiles. Feel free to chime in, making sure to append #Winophiles to your tweets so we can welcome you.
Here’s a preview of what each writer will contribute to the discussion – all articles will be live on Friday or Saturday, December 14 or 15th:
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla whips up “A French #Winophiles Fête: Foie Gras, Pain d’Épices & Champagne Drappier”
- Jill shares from L’OCCASION shares “How To Bring French Holiday Traditions Home”
- Gwen at WinePredator has “Season’s Greetings French-Style”
- Wendy at A Day In The Life On The Farm gives us “A Holiday Gathering with French Foods and Wines”
- Martin at ENOFLYZ Wine Blog shares “A Taste of French Inspired Holiday Food and Wine”
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells writes about “Ants Climb a Tree with French Wine”
- Lauren at The Swirling Dervish tells us about “Parisian Holiday: A Few of My Favorite Things”
- Michelle of Rockin Red Blog writes about “A French-Inspired Holiday Alsatian Style”
- Kat from Bacchus Travel and Tours writes about “Noel en Provence“
- Jeff from foodwineclick discusses “What is French-Style Season?”
- Payal writes at Keep The Peas shares “Bonnes Fêtes à la #winophiles”
- Lynn with Savor the Harvest shares how to “Give a Little Touche Française to Your Holiday #Winophiles“.
- David Crowley from CookingChat shares “Festive Pairings for Pouilly-Fumé and Other Special French Wine #winophiles“
- Lyn writes at L.M. Archer tells us about “The Hedonistic Taster: French-Style Season Edition”
- Jane cooks things up at Always Ravenous shares “A French Inspired Winter Dinner”
- Nicole from Somms Table shares “Crocus l’Atelier Malbec de Cahors with Château Mercuès Saffron Chicken Soup“
- Liz from What’s In That Bottle tells us how to “Frenchify Your Festivities with Fun Wines“
- Rupal from Journeys of a Syrah Queen shares “French Inspired Holiday Wines”
12 days of Wine
Here at Crushed Grape Chronicles we are counting down the days to Christmas with wine! Join us as we taste great wines and pair them with winemaker suggestions. Day One is here : On the First day of Christmas my true love gave to me a Gewürvignintocloniger!
Follow all 12 days on our 12 days of wine page