Rôti de Cochon Tout Simplement et Hermitage #Winophiles

The Rhone river defines the entire region! A view over to St. Joseph from the hill at Hermitage

The Rhone river defines the entire region! A view over to St. Joseph from the hill at Hermitage

#Winophiles Tour the Rhone
Our October meeting of the French #Winophiles sends us to the Rhone.  The wine region is entirely defined by the Rhone river, as it is the center and the main geographic influence in both soil and weather. We’ll be chatting about the Rhone on Saturday October 17 at 10am CDT. Join in the conversation on Twitter at #Winophiles!
We often think of the Northern and Southern Rhone as two different regions, but they are generally thought of as one in France.  While they share some similarities, my preference leans strongly to the Northern Rhone.

Roussanne or Marsanne grapes at the Chave vineyard on Hermitage

Roussanne or Marsanne grapes at the Chave vineyard on Hermitage

Northern Rhone Wines
White wines of the Northern Rhone rely on the grapes Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.  Of course the wines aren’t named this way, they are simply named for the town they are from, such as St. Joseph Blanc, Most of the wines are combinations of Marsanne and Roussanne.  However, you’ll find the wines from Condrieu are made from 100% Viognier.

Nearly ripe Syrah grapes, destined to be

Nearly ripe Syrah grapes, destined to be “Hermitage”

Red wines of the Northern Rhone are made primarily of Syrah, and again, named for the town they are from.

  • Hermitage & Cote Rotie – the most sought after and small vineyard area occupying perfect steep hillside pitches facing the Rhone $50++
  • St. Joseph & Cornas – Larger vineyard areas, less privileged sites, $30+
  • Croze-Hermitage – more variable as the allowed vineyard areas include lots of acreage including flat ground farther from the river. Still, open a bottle and I’d be happy to join you! $20+
The Hermitage chapel, an icon

The Hermitage chapel, an icon

In some cases, such as Cote-Rotie, the Syrah grapes are fermented with a small amount (5-15%) of Viognier grapes.  The Northern Rhone represents the northernmost region able to fully ripen Syrah, and winegrowers must work diligently to ensure they do get their grapes ripe before the end of the growing season. Syrah at these northern reaches of its growing range can take on an earthy “sauvage” nature, and will express it even in a wine which is quite refined.  Often, you’ll notice meaty/bacony notes as well as earth, leather, and lots of herbal influences.

Pork Roast and Hermitage

Pork Roast and Hermitage

While the wines are intense, they are often medium bodied and pair well with meats such as pork, and even roast chicken.  Of course, red meats are also a natural, a favorite of mine is lamb chops. Today, we’re exploring Hermitage with a simple roast pork with fall vegetables.

JL Chave Selections Hermitage

JL Chave Selections Hermitage

Jean-Louis Chave – Northern Rhone
The Chave family has been growing grapes and making wine in the Northern Rhone since 1481, that is a bit of history!  Their original land holdings were in St. Joseph, across the river from Hermitage.  In recent years, they have been reclaiming and reinvigorating their St. Joseph home ground. Their most famous wines are their Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Red and White Hermitage, which retail for over $200 a bottle.  We aren’t drinking any of those today!

How are we drinking an Hermitage for $62?  The Chaves also have a second label: JL Chave Selections.  These wines are made from their estate vines which are less than 15 years old, or from purchased grapes grown by established growers.  The JL Chave Selections wines are produced in a style which encourages earlier drinking.  As they say, “drink the JL Chave Selections while the Domaine wines are aging in the cellar”. I’d encourage you to purchase a couple of the Domaine Chave St. Joseph wines for later and to enjoy any of the JL Chave Selections wines now. They produce red and white Hermitage, St. Joseph (at a very reasonable $30) and even a Cotes du Rhone which is under $20 and is a lovely wine.

JL Chave

JL Chave Selections Hermitage “Farconnet”

JL Chave Selections Hermitage “Farconnet” 2009 ($62 at Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: A touch of cloudiness, pretty garnet rim going to opaque center.  Pretty transition.
Nose: Earthy but not barnyard. Blue fruit underneath. Not bacony, very clean earth, almost like fresh loam. Strongly herbal, rosemary and tarragon, not so much sage.
Mouth: Good fruit, earthy side is there too.  Polished tannins are definitely there. Very nice, and elegant wine.
Note: The wine needs to be served at cellar temperature.  At room temperature, the fruit is too strong. Lovely with just the least chill.

Fall vegetables and gravy on the meat provide plenty of rich earthiness for the wine.

Fall vegetables and gravy on the meat provide plenty of rich earthiness for the wine.

Wine Pairing
Pork is one of those foods that can be difficult to predict whether a red or white will pair best, although neither will usually clash. The Hermitage has plenty of structure, but the tannins are very polished, so the wine doesn’t overpower.  It also brings a strong herbal “garrique” note, so common in Rhone wines, which matches the rosemary in the dish.  All in all an excellent choice. While not an inexpensive wine at $62, it’s a great way to drink a bottle of wine from that famous hill.

I did have a Northern Rhone white open as well (not Chave), but the wine was quite disappointing. Taking Mom’s advice from long ago: “If you can’t say anything nice….”

#Winophiles Blogging Buddies Visit the Rhone
Take a look at what some of my foodie/wino friends have cooked up!


My Previous Posts on the Rhone

Minnesota Visits Domaine Jean-Louis Chave – Hermitage

Minnesota Visits Domaine Jean-Louis Chave – St. Joseph & Cellars

Southern Rhone & Domaine Rouge-Bleu

Touring Gigondas

Châteauneuf-du-Pape of Course

Hanging Out at Pont du Gard & the Best 4€ Gas Station Wine Ever

Roast Pork with Fall Vegetables

The essence of this dish is to combine pork roast with local, in-season fresh ingredients, and to roast them in a pan with a bit of wine. I made a gravy from the leftover pan juices which complemented the dish nicely. With only a few exceptions, all the ingredients are from our local Kingfield Farmers Market. No olive trees near Minneapolis! If you decide to make this dish, have fun rounding up whatever is local and fresh at your market!

Serve the pork roast and vegetables with a nice Syrah from the Northern Rhone. Fall vegetables and roasted pork provide plenty of deep earthy flavors to pair with the wine.


  • 2.5 – 3 lb. Center cut pork loin roast, outer fat trimmed down to ¼ inch.
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped.
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into sticks
  • 2 leeks, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 3” sections
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 6 heirloom carrots, scrubbed but not peeled. If the carrots are thick, you may want to cut them in half lengthwise.
  • 1 cup brussels sprouts
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ Cinderella pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 6 segments
  • 1 Head of purple cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 8 oz. white wine
  • Extra virgin olive oil in a sprayer
  • 1 heaping Tbsp of flour, mixed well in 3 oz. of cold water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 deg. F
  • Salt and pepper the outer surface of the roast, then coat with the rosemary
  • As you prep the vegetables, spray them lightly with EVOO
  • Place the pork roast, celery, leeks, and garlic in a 10×13” roasting pan and roast for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the roast from the oven, add the carrots, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, cauliflower, bay leaf and wine to the pan.
  • Return the full pan to the oven, and roast until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
  • Turn off the oven.
  • Remove from the oven, pour off the liquid from the pan into a large measuring cup, remove the pork and cover loosely with foil.
  • Return the pan of vegetables to the oven to keep warm
  • Degrease the pan liquid, I use a bulb syringe to extract the drippings and leave the fat behind.
  • Heat the pan liquid in a saucepan over high heat, stir in about ½ of the flour water mixture and bring to a boil. Use the remaining flour/water mixture if necessary to get the proper consistency. Adjust the gravy seasoning.
  • Plate the meal, pour the wine and enjoy!

Low light = slow shutter speed. I'd still take the motion blur and preserve the moment

Once in a lifetime tasting – 1992 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge with Jean-Louis and Erin Chave


19 Responses to “Rôti de Cochon Tout Simplement et Hermitage #Winophiles”
  1. culinarycam says:

    GREAT post, Jeff. I clearly need to explore more of the Rhone wines.

  2. Duff's Wines says:

    Love the Rhone and appreciated your take on it. Great pics.

  3. I love wines with that bacony, earthy, herby, leathery profile. Putting these on my list to try as well as the pork recipe – it is stunning! Your photos are stunning and now I have Rhone on my mind, the Hermitage Chapel is creating a bit of Saturday wanderlust.

  4. One of these days I am going to splurge on a Hermitage. Maybe on a special date night. Thanks for sharing the information on a lesser expensive bottle.

  5. I’m glad to learn more about the northern Rhone. I think this region earned a stop on our next trip for sure!

  6. A wonderful introduction to Northern Rhone Jeff! Actually I noted in my post I’ve not had any Northern Rhone wine. Not quite true, I’ve had Condrieu. I’m particularly fond of Syrah with a bit of Viognier in the blend. The challenge for me is that we’ve got quite a few producers who rock Syrah here in California that lean toward the Old World (Bedrock, Qupe, our friend William at Two Shepherds) So far I’ve found these wines to be very pleasing to my palate. Having said that, I’ll have to look for the Chave Hermitage you recommended here! I’ve always wanted to try one! Oh great reminder on the serving temp of the wine…it most certainly matters!

    • Martin, those California Syrah producers were my introduction and several still rate very highly. I’d also add Wind Gap and Anthill Farms to your already good list! Still, there’s nothing quite like the Northern Rhone.

  7. Great article, beautiful photos and delicious meal. I am saving this recipe.

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