Lamb Shanks Provençal with Les Baux de Provence and Cassis #Winophiles

Right now, A Year in Provence sounds pretty good!

French Winophiles Dream of Provence
Just the word “Provence” brings forth dreamy thoughts of bright sun, warm summer days, lavender fields and a laid back, relaxed life. And of course, delicious food and wine! This month, our French Winophiles group is conjuring up memories or aspirations of that Provencal landscape while we highlight foods and wines from the region. To add even more fun, our friends at Blue Vase Book Exchange have provided many of us with a copy of the classic “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle. It’s been years since I read this book, so I’m enjoying revisiting it. Take a look further down in this post for a whole list of links to my fellow Winophiles’ thoughts on Provence.  I’ll start with some photos from our last trip to the region in 2017.

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Dreams of Provence on a Winter’s Day
Meanwhile, back in Minnesota we’re enjoying a recent series of storms leaving our landscape decidedly white. Even though there is no snow in Provence, they do have cool weather suitable for a warming winter dinner.

Mas de Gourgonnier
Mas de Gourgonnier is a long-time family farm of both grape vines and olive trees. The estate has always been farmed without any chemicals. They have held the organic Ecocert certification for over thirty years! They grow a variety of red wine grapes, and their wine is a blend which varies depending on the particular vintage. The blend will be some combination of grenache, syrah, cabernet-sauvignon, cinsault, carignan, and mourvèdre. The vinification is traditional with native yeasts. Little to no sulfur is used during vinification and only the minimum needed at bottling. The wine is unfined and unfiltered. Finally, they are members of the Vignerons Independant, an association of independent winegrowers in France.

Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence AOP 2016 13%abv ($20 at South Lyndale Liquors or online here)
Eye: Slightly hazy deep intensity ruby with a cool ruby edge. Medium stained legs.
Nose: Clean, medium- intensity. Fresh but ripe blueberries, blackberries. Stony, graphite elements behind the fruit.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity flavors. Fresh, ripe blueberries. Medium acidity, Medium tannins, fine-grained. Medium body, medium alcohol. Nice medium+ finish dominated by the fruit. Wine is delicious now, but would benefit from 3-5 years of additional aging.

Non-Provençal weather, to be sure, but the wines didn’t seem to mind.

Cassis and Domaine de la Ferme Blanche
Cassis is a small AOP area east of Marseille. It’s located on limestone soils which extend right to cliffs over the Mediterranean sea. I wasn’t able to find out much about Domaine de la Ferme Blanche as their website is under construction. However, their wines are organically grown, and they are AB certified. The grapes are a blend of Bourboulenc (10%) / Clairette (20%) / Marsanne (40%) / Sauvignon (10%) / Ugniblanc (20%). I’m a fan of Cassis whites, as they have a nice balance of refreshing acidity with sufficient body and texture to stand up to hearty foods. A perfect white wine for winter.

Domaine Ferme Blanche Cassis AOC 2016 13%abv ($22 at South Lyndale Liquors or online here)
Eye: Clear, medium lemon. Slowly descending legs
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Floral, white flowers, chalk, tart green apples. A bit of baking spice in the background.
Mouth: Dry, medium intensity. Medium+ acidity with full body with rich, waxy texture. Flavors of tart green apples, a touch of sea air, wet stones.The interplay of the rich texture with the abundant acidity is very nice. Medium alcohol.  Medium+ finish of almonds (a touch of bitterness). The body of this wine will let it stand up to bigger dishes.

Our meal starts with lamb shanks slowly smoked for 2 hours

Posts from Fellow French Winophiles
This month’s French Winophiles was sponsored by Blue Vase Book Exchange.  They provided some of our members with a copy of “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle.  You can find Blue Vase Book Exchange on Amazon and on Facebook.

Smoked & Braised Lamb Shanks Provencal
My go-to source for braising is Molly Stevens, I have her excellent “All About Braising” cookbook. When I have time, I like to modify the approach for use on my ceramic grill, so I can incorporate some low & slow smoky goodness.  So, if you are using your oven, please feel free to use this recipe directly.  If you’re a grilling enthusiast, you can simply add a 2 hour low temperature smoke of those lamb shanks, then proceed with the braise out on the grill. Note: if you don’t like lamb, you could use any slow cooking meat you like.  Beef short ribs would be delicious.  In truth, the sauce and polenta stole the show, utterly delicious. The meat is a much appreciated addition, to be sure.


16 Responses to “Lamb Shanks Provençal with Les Baux de Provence and Cassis #Winophiles”
  1. Absolutely scrumptious looking!!

  2. Lynn says:

    What a trip you had, those photos! I’m a fan of Cassis wines too but it’s been too long. You definitely have me dreaming about that dish, and my grill in storage.

  3. culinarycam says:

    Oh, my, Jeff! My mouth is watering! That looks amazing. And I was excited to read that Mayle book for the first time.

  4. Lisa Denning says:

    I’ve always loved that Mas de Gourgonnier and that meal looks fantastic!

  5. wendyklik says:

    Oh my word….first I want to thank you for the amazing photos…I am so jealous of your trip and I am going to get the name of that air B&B if/when I go to Provence. Next, thanks for the wonderful introduction to these wines that sound amazing and lastly the lamb shanks have me drooling over here. What a great post. Thanks for joining me.

  6. Ah…your photos of Provençe make me long for a trip. The dish looks spectacular. I will definitely give the polenta and sauce a try myself!

  7. Wow…your determination to grill in the midst of winter is admirable. But I must say it paying it’s paying off handsomely! Great dish and parings Jeff!

  8. Pinny Tam says:

    I think I would really love Mas de Gourgonnier Les Baux de Provence AOP 2016. The bottle is unique too. The lamb shanks on the smoker look so good… Like the youtube you added, adding dynamics to the blog!

  9. Jane says:

    The braised lamb with the Provence wines look perfect for you Minnesota winter! But HOW do you grill in the Minnesota winter???? So cold!!!!
    P.S. Amazing photos as always!

  10. Side Hustle Wino says:

    I’m drooling Jeff. The wine and food look and sound delicious!

  11. Looks delicious! I haven’t had much luck when I’ve tried cooking lamb shanks, but this makes me think about trying again. Curious to try a Cassis, upon reading about this bottle.

  12. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    My gosh that lamb looks amazing! Adding the smoking step to the braise is brilliant. I really enjoy that Mas de Gourgonnier — great value at the price. I believe they were actually one of the first in the region to adopt organic practices.

  13. Jill Barth says:

    You probably know this, because I cover Les BdP so frequently, but I just adore that spot of the world. In my opinion, Mas de Gourgonnier is perhaps the most America-facing red wine of Provence, thanks to their distribution. I would say that for sure it is the America-facing red wine of the AOP… I pairing this bottle with steak frites for a previous Winophiles event, and I got it from my local shop, in IL believe it or not! Great post, as always!

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