The Undiscovered France: Sud-Ouest & Jurançon Sec #Winophiles
Southwest France (Sud-Ouest) Gets No Respect
The Southwest France wine region is a real Cinderella story. Look at the map, wicked step-sister “Bordeaux” in the same geographic region gets all the glory. The remainder of the entire region is relegated to anonymity. I know a Wine Bible can’t include every single region in every single country, but Karen McNeil’s book lists 9 major wine regions in France, no mention of the Southwest at all. Even the other, less wicked step-sister Languedoc-Roussillon to the east gets coverage in Karen’s book. Sud-Ouest? No!
Jurançon Sec – What?
Winegrowers in the Southwest grow a variety of grapes which must be perfectly suited to their region, but you are unlikely to have heard of very many of them. Sure, you might have heard of Malbec – that’s the base of wines from Cahors. What about Jurançon Sec? It’s a wine made from a blend of Gros Manseng and Petite Manseng grapes. Not quite as well known as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The community of Jurançon produces both a sweet dessert wine, Jurançon, and a dry dinner wine, Jurançon Sec.
Domaine Bru-Baché Jurançon Sec 2012 ($20 Kermit Lynch Wine Club)
Eye: Clear, very rich, warm dark yellow, the color of honey.
Nose: Rich, honey and ripe pit fruit with a touch of an oxidized note. Even though it is labeled “Sec” (dry), I fully expect a sweet wine based on the nose.
Mouth: Rich, creamy mouthfeel with very strong fruit, gives the impression of sweetness even though, at 13% alcohol I expect its actually dry. Good acidity underlying that rich mouthfeel. As a wine tasted on its own, I didn’t like it.
I actually put it away, and pulled out a Gaillac white but it was just a bit too light in body for the meal. What, you’ve not heard of a Gaillac? OK, neither had I. There’s a lot to learn about this region!
Jurançon Sec’s Exoneration and a Wine Pairing Lesson
In desperation, I pulled the Jurançon Sec back out with the meal, just to try to salvage my post for our group. Voilà! Grilled chicken thigh & leg, and the tomatoes and olives in the salad wanted a wine with some body. The Jurançon Sec provided that body. In the presence of the food, the weird fruit sweet impression disappeared. This was a perfect wine with this meal. Even Julie, who usually turns up her nose at any hint of an oxidized aroma thought this was a good pairing.
Lesson: don’t judge a wine in the absence of food if you intend to drink it at the table.
Bistro Salad Dinner
Were this September or later, I would definitely have given Cassoulet a try, as it is a classic from this region. But in the dog days of August, I just couldn’t force myself to cook such a cool weather dish. After looking around a bit, I found a bistro type salad which would nicely represent the warmer areas in the south of France. Oranges aren’t native to Paris. To turn the salad into dinner, I doubled the dressing and used it as a marinade for the chicken to provide a unity in the flavors on the plate. Our local sweet corn season is so short, I had to add that Minnesota touch.
French #Winophiles Conquer Sud-Ouest
We’ll be discussing our findings on Twitter on Saturday August 15 10-11am CDT at #Winophiles. If you’re around, please join us in conversation, we’re a friendly group! Here are the offerings from our other French Winophiles:
Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog features “Marcillac – The Perfect Wine for Liver and Onions”
Tammy from Telling Stories from Chez Nous shares “Oysters a La Charentaise”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm shares tales from “Exploring Southwest France with the French Winophiles – 2012 Malbec from Chateau-Haut Monplaiser
Speaking of less-wicked step-sisters, we’ll be exploring the Languedoc-Roussillon next month; stay tuned!
Recipe is adapted from “French Bistro” by Maria Zihammou. I’ve doubled the vinaigrette ingredients so you can use half as a marinade for the chicken. Ingredients Vinaigrette Ingredients Instructions
Salad of Oranges & Tomatoes with Grilled Chicken
Recipe is adapted from “French Bistro” by Maria Zihammou. I’ve doubled the vinaigrette ingredients so you can use half as a marinade for the chicken.