Rôti de Cochon Tout Simplement et Hermitage #Winophiles
#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.
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.
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+
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
- Anna from Anna Dishes “Brown Butter Red Wine Filet with Mushrooms,Baby Potatoes & Asparagus”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Souk-Spiced Leg of Lamb with L’O de Joncier”
- Cindy from Grape Experiences shares “Costières de Nîmes – The Rising Star of the Rhone”
- Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva “Rhones Gone Crazy”
- David from Cooking Chat “Wine for Rustic Chicken and Sausage Stew”
- Jeff from foodwineclick shares “Roti de Cochon Tout Simplement et Hermitage“
- Martin from Enofylz Wine Blog “A Taste of Gigondas and Vacqueyras”
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog “Separation of Church & Wine”
- Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere “French Onion Soup and Cotes du Rhone Wine”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life of a Farm “Braised Chicken with a Dual Pairing from Cotes du Rhone”
My Previous Posts on the Rhone
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. Ingredients Instructions
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.