French Wines for ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ Valentines #Winophiles

Winophiles Celebrate L’Amour with French Wines
Valentines Day ensures we all think of February as the month we associate with love, l’amour! Coincident with theme of l’amour, many in our French Winophiles group received a number of samples to use in our posts this month. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a whole host of ideas for your Valentines or other romantic plans you might have.

Disclosure: wines in this post were received as samples, all opinions are mine.

The Best Romantic Meal
The best way to show your love is to put your own preference aside and cook something your loved one will be excited to eat. Does that look like something light, crisp and refreshing with an equally refreshing wine, or does the cold weather in February mean something meaty, rich with a savory wine to pair? (click on either photo below to see full size, “escape” to return)

French Wines for the Lighter Palette
If your honey loves lighter fare, consider a white wine from the lesser known Savoie region. You’ll get serious points for your knowledge of under-the-radar French wine and save enough money to buy a bigger bouquet of flowers!

Jean Perrier et Fils Savoie “Cuvee Gastronomie” Apremont AOP 2017 (sample, $14)
The Savoie region lies east of Lyon, in the foothills of the Alps, not far from Geneva. As a lesser known region, many of the wines are great values. I’ve enjoyed wines from Jean Perrier et Fils in a prior Winophiles virtual visit to Savoie (here). This wine is 100% Jacquère grape, also an almost unknown grape.

Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow
Nose: Clean, medium- intensity. Fresh, white flowers, underripe pears, green apple
Mouth: Dry, medium+ acidity, mouthwatering. Flavors continue with underripe pear, floral elements and adding a bit of fresh green herbs. Medium- body, medium finish.

Rosé in February? Sure!
Some of us (me) love to keep rosé as a summer wine, but those weary of the cold temperatures outside need to have something to remind them that summer will come. Voilà! Consider a delicious rosé to pair with your lighter meal.  Different from their Provençal counterparts, many Loire Valley rosés are off-dry. Not enough to register as cloying, but enough to deftly balance the acid.

Famille Bougrier Rose d’Anjou AOP “Pure Loire” 2016 (sample, $15, available at Total Wine)
The grapes for this rosé  are Gamay, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc,which are typical in the Loire valley.

Eye: Clear, medium salmon color, slight fading at the edge
Nose: Clean, medium intensity, fresh underripe strawberries, or wild strawberries, floral scents, a garden in the spring
Mouth: Off-dry, medium acidity, but well buffered. Medium intensity flavors, fresh strawberry flavor lingers nicely. Medium- body. The light sweetness offsets the acidity nicely. The wine brought out the delicious fruit of the mangoes beautifully.

A Romantic Choice for the Lighter Palette
Winter in Minnesota can seem never-ending. After a while, one longs for something different from beef stew and hot dish. Scallop salad with mangoes and avocado is the perfect thing to remind us that summer will come. Eventually!  This recipe comes together easily and will leave plenty of time for your romantic conversation. Both wines were great pairings with the salad. The crisp Savoie white wine was perfect with the citrus notes in the dressing. The Loire rosé picked up the fruit flavors in the mangoes beautifully.

The steep, terraced hillsides of Cote-Rotie along the Rhone river are the first you see when you take the train south from Lyon

If Your Valentine Prefers Bold Flavors
Some love the winter for the opportunity to enjoy bigger red wines paired with grilled, roasted or braised red meats. One of the best French wine regions for these meals is the northern Rhone. The red wines of the northern Rhone feature the Syrah grape. Robust acidity and tannins make these wines a great choice for red meats.

Vidal-Fleury Côte-Rôtie "Brune et Blonde"

Côte-Rôtie wines are among the most coveted from the Northern Rhone, Vidal-Fleury makes a memorable example.

Vidal-Fleury Côte-Rôtie “Brune et Blonde” AOC 2013 (sample, $72 SRP)
Vidal-Fleury has a long history as a grower-producer in the Rhone valley, including a visit from Thomas Jefferson in 1787. While they are owned by Guigal today, they are still operated as a 100% independent entity with their own vineyards, winery facilities and staff.

One of the unique elements of Côte-Rôtie wines is that they are often a co-ferment of Syrah and Viognier, a white grape! Defying logic, the addition of the white grapes to the ferment actually increases the depth of color in the finished red wine.  The Vidal-Fleury Côte-Rôtie is a co-ferment of 95% Syrah with 5% Viognier. Finally, the Brune et Blonde is a blend of grapes from two adjoining slopes, the “Brune” and “Blonde”. Legend has it that long ago, the owner of the land named the two slopes (due to their different soil color) after his two daughters, the blond and the brunette. Luckily, we don’t need to choose a favorite as this wine contains grapes from both of these famous vineyard sections.

Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a cool edge. Legs are barely stained.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Blue fruit – ripe blueberries, a bit of smoke, olives, fresh garden herbs, rosemary.
Mouth: Dry, medium body, medium acidity, medium+ tannins, medium alcohol. Blue fruits continue with herbs behind the fruit with a nice long finish.

Lamb Chops with Syrah from the Northern Rhone
Rare grilled lamb chops with a nice Northern Rhone Syrah is a match made in heaven, if you’re into that sort of thing. Northern Rhone Syrah has the body and acid/tannin to match up with rare red meat, and it’s herbal aromas go especially well with a little rosemary on the meat. Simply salt & pepper the lamb chops prior to cooking, then chop some fresh rosemary and press onto both sides of the chops. Grill to your desired level and enjoy.

Savoie and Loire valley wines with seared scallop salad

Which dinner would be the ‘His’ pick or the ‘Hers’ pick at your house?

OK, Which was ‘His’ and Which was ‘Hers’?
I don’t presume wine preferences by gender, there are plenty of women who love red wines and plenty of men who profess Champagne as their top choice. So who was the shrimp salad for? Julie loves shellfish and she does have a clear preference for lean, crisp white wines. She was pretty happy with Valentines preview dinner #1.  But wait, I love shellfish, and seared scallops are a treat for me as well.  Dinner #1 was a winner for both of us.

Vidal-Fleury Côte-Rôtie with grilled lamb chops

Not gonna lie, this was ‘His’ choice at our house

If you read this blog at all, you know I get all weak-knee’d in the presence of lamb and Syrah, especially Syrah from the Northern Rhone. No big surprise this would be my dream Valentines dinner surprise. However, I’m happily married to let’s just say a lamb non-lover. The night we enjoyed this, I made Julie a skewer of grilled shrimp to place on top of her salad. Needless to say, no lamb anywhere near her plate.  In fact, I upgraded the salad recipe from the Savoie/Loire rosé dinner by subbing grapefruit sections for the mango.  Grapefruit is in Julie’s top 5 foods in the entire world. I needed to compensate somehow for serving lamb when she is in the house.

French Winophiles Suggestions for L’Amour
With Valentines Day upon us, many of our group posted early, hopefully in time to inspire your last minute Valentines Day choice. We’ll be chatting about French wines and l’amour on Saturday Feb. 17 at 10am CST. Join us at #winophiles on Twitter!

34 Responses to “French Wines for ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ Valentines #Winophiles”
  1. Jill Barth says:

    This is so fun, I love what you’ve done here. Eating a meal, sharing a bottle – these things are extra special when shared with loved ones.

    More great ideas from FoodWineClick!

  2. Great pairings and guidance. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  3. lizbarrett says:

    Reblogged this on What's in that Bottle? and commented:
    Love the “his and hers” angle, Jeff! Great food pairings, too!

  4. lizbarrett says:

    Love the “His and Hers” angle and your food pairings look divine. Pure inspiration!

  5. culinarycam says:

    What a great post, Jeff! No lamb for her? Send her share to me! LOL. Thanks for sharing these, as always, you are an inspiration.

  6. You’re a good husband, Jeff! Julie’s salad looks amazing and, I have to say, the lamb plate was exceptional. What a fun way to spend Valentine’s Day!

  7. Wendy says:

    As always….Perfect pairings. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Cooking with love, the French way, well done! Both menus would make me happy. Cheers!

  9. Lynn says:

    As you say, the best romantic meal is what your sweetie likes. Julie is lucky to have a fabulous cook in the house. Fantastic pics!

  10. A fun discussion of your Valentines Day pairing options! I do appreciate cooking parallel meal options. Here it’s seafood that my wife shuns.

  11. binNotes says:

    Jeff – your posts always leave me in awe. Bravo.

  12. Love wine and food. Nothing better. Great pairings. Your fave are my fave with the lamb chops and Cote Rotie.

  13. I’m with you — lamb is one of my favorite things and Cote Rotie is one of my favorite appellations!

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