NOT the Easter Bunny with Wines from Anjou-Saumur #Winophiles

French Winophiles Return to Anjou-Saumur
Back in 2016, the French Winophiles took a multi-month virtual cruise down the Loire river, stopping in each of the major sub-regions. My prior posts are here for Central, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur, and Nantais. This month, we’re revisiting wines of Anjou and Saumur. Take a look further down in this post for links to my French Winophiles buddies’ posts!

The Loire river runs from the center of France west to the coast. Anjou (in purple) and Saumur (in blue) form one of the major sub-regions. Map courtesy of

The Wines of Anjou and Saumur
Loire Valley wines in Anjou and Saumur offer something for every wine drinker. As is the case in much of Europe, wines are named for the community they are from, not by the grape name.  Here are a few of the names you might look for on store shelves in the states:

  • Crémant de Loire – sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Crémant de Loire wines can be made all throughout the Loire Valley. Wonderful sparkling wines, they are often available at decidedly non-Champagne prices.
  • Savennières – rich white wine made from Chenin Blanc grapes. Savennieres is always a dry wine, and the Chenin Blanc guarantees bright, lively acidity. However, the grapes grown here can achieve full ripeness, so the wines are rich and flavorful.
  • Rosé d’Anjou or Rosé de Loire – in contrast to their Provencal couisins, Loire valley rosé wines are often off-dry, containing just a bit of sweetness. Not cloying, these wines are refreshing, they just have a touch of sweetness.
  • Saumur, Saumer-Champigny – earthy red wines made primarily from Cabernet Franc.
  • Coteaux du Layon – some areas surrounding the Loire have conditions which promote botrytis (noble rot). Coteaux du Layon wines are sweet dessert wines which often have botrytis notes (this is a good thing!)

Domaine du Closel Savennières AOC  “La Jalousie”

Domaine du Closel Savennières AOC  “La Jalousie” 2014 ($30 at France 44 or online here) 13%abv
Domaine du Closel employs a mix of tradition and innovation in their approach to their wines. They are certified organic by Ecocert and biodynamic by Demeter. In the cellar, the wines are fermented with native yeast, dosed with minimal sulfur. They have also engaged in scientific studies of the geology of the Savennières region. If you ever get to the region, they accept visitors.

Eye: Clear, deep gold with medium tearing.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity aromas. Fresh, very ripe honeydew melon, apricots, ginger, orange peel. Sweet floral aromas of honeysuckle. In the background, candle wax, beeswax, lanolin
Mouth: Dry, medium+ flavor intensity. Rich, plush body with abundant high acidity. Definite flavors of botrytis, however the wine is totally dry. Medium+ body, medium alcohol. Flavors echo the aromas with very ripe melon, apricots, orange peel, honeysuckle. Medium+ finish with lingering botrytis notes of apricots, orange peel, ginger.

Chateau Yvonne Saumur Champigny AOC “L’ile Quatre Sous”

Chateau Yvonne Saumur Champigny AOC “L’ile Quatre Sous” 2017 ($27 at France 44 or online here) 12.5% abv
Chateau Yvonne is certified organic and employs biodynamic farming. Wines are fermented with native yeasts. This wine is fermented and aged in concrete.

Eye: Clear, medium ruby with a definite purple edge. Medium legs with medium staining
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Red fruits, fresh cranberries, strawberries, bright barely ripe cherries. Freshly cut green pepper lends a vegetal note mixed in with the red fruit.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity. Medium body, lean texture with medium alcohol. Medium+ acidity with medium tannins. The palate shows bright red fruits, herbal tarragon and vegetal bright green pepper notes. Oak is not noticeable in flavors but a soft edge to the texture indicates some time in old, neutral barrels. Nice medium finish with lingering flavors of bright fresh red fruits with herbal and vegetal notes behind.

A rich yet racy white and a mid-bodied red both pair nicely with smoky rabbit in mustard.

NOT the Easter Bunny
In the US, many people somehow equate eating rabbit with the Easter Bunny (I should know, I married one of those people). I equate rabbit with all the losses in our back yard bushes and trees over the winter, and the fact I need to protect my little herb and tomato garden like Fort Knox. I’m grateful those sentiments don’t seem to travel across the ocean, as rabbit is a typical dish one will find in France and Italy. Julie was in Chicago for a girls’ weekend, so I took the opportunity to make a ceramic grill version of rabbit with mushrooms and mustard. This dish pairs equally well with white wine and red wine from Anjou-Saumur!

Some Great Posts from fellow French Winophiles
and if you’re around on Saturday morning, July 20, jump on to our chat on Twitter at 10am CDT. Just look for the hashtag #winophiles.

Smoked Rabbit in Mustard Mushroom Sauce

This dish started life as an indoor stove-top recipe. I made it outside on the Primo Ceramic Grill, partly for fun and partly to add a smoky element. If you’d like to try a “normal” indoor recipe, here’s a link to a Saveur version, sure to be good.


  • 1 whole rabbit, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), divided
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 bottle of dry white wine, nothing fancy, but something you would be willing to drink
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. chestnut mushrooms (can substitute Chanterelle, shiitake, or your favorite)
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • Several sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped


  • Set up the grill for direct heat initially, have woods for smoking and deflector plates ready.
  • Pre-heat the grill up to 400° F, pre-heat a 4 quart dutch oven on the grill.
  • Brush each of the rabbit pieces with Dijon mustard
  • Add 1 Tbsp EVOO and the butter to the dutch oven.
  • Brown the rabbit pieces on both sides, you’ll need to do this in shifts
  • Remove the rabbit pieces to a plate after they are browned
  • Add 1 Tbsp EVOO, brown the onions, sprinkle the flour over the onions and mix, then add some wine to deglaze the pot.
  • Add the mushrooms and the remainder of the wine
  • Remove the dutch oven from the grill
  • Reconfigure the grill for smoking and add deflector plates, set the grill for 325° F. Allow the grill to smoke for a few minutes before returning the dutch oven to the grill.
  • Place all the rabbit, the thyme and bay leaf in the dutch oven.
  • Close the grill and let the rabbit mixture bubble away uncovered.
  • Cook the rabbit for about an hour and the liquid has reduced to a nice gravy consistency.
  • Serve the rabbit over egg noodles.
  • Remember: no Easter Bunny or Bugs Bunny jokes!



9 Responses to “NOT the Easter Bunny with Wines from Anjou-Saumur #Winophiles”
  1. crynning says:

    I love these wines! And I’ll make the rabbit dish when I find rabbit in our market! Remember me to tell you a funny rabbit story when I see you next! Cheers, Jeff!

  2. culinarycam says:

    Julie would really NOT appreciate that I always serve rabbit ON Easter! And whenever I can get my hands on it. LOL. Your dish looks amazing.

  3. Wendy Klik says:

    Oh my, this dish sounds amazing. I love rabbit and am happy to have a new recipe. Thanks.

  4. Okay, so I haven’t had rabbit before. I have to ask, does it taste like chicken? Your rabbit does look delicious and the wine pairings sound perfect.

    • Thanks Jane. Yes, rabbit really does taste like chicken. The first time I made it at home I didn’t tell Julie what it was. She was enjoying dinner until I spilled the beans. She politely explained she was done. I said “but you were enjoying it”. She replied that she was, but the mental picture of a bunny was too much. Oops!

  5. Stellar video Jeff! I like rabbit, but it can be a challenge to find. Cheers!

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