Maury Savory and Sweet #Winophiles

Look for Maury, the little orange spot near the Pyrenées mountains and Spain. Languedoc – Roussillon image courtesy of wikipedia.com

Roussillon and Maury
This month, our intrepid French Winophiles are going far under-the-radar to the community of Maury in Roussillon. As if Roussillon isn’t already under-the-radar! Roussillon is located in the far southwest tip of France. It borders on Spain and is surrounded by the Mediterranean and a variety of mountains including the Pyrenées. How’s that for remote? Maury is one of the communities of Roussillon, best known as the home of the Vins Doux Naturels, fortified wines from France. In recent years they have added normal red table wines. Scroll farther down in this post for more Maury finds from my fellow French Winophiles.

Maury – Savory
Maury and the rest of Roussillon wine fame was historically built on their Vins Doux Naturels. However, the region has a wide variety of microclimates given proximity to the Mediterranean and a variety of exposures and altitudes in the foothills of the Pyrenées and Courbières Mountains. Recently, the region has increasingly become known for dry wines and in 2011 was granted AOC status for dry red wines. Principal grape varieties include Grenache Noir and Carignan.

Mas Amiel “Legende” Maury Sec AOC 2015 ( $20 available online here) 15% abv
Cabirou parcel from 1949, Grenache Noir 80% Carignan 20% planted on schist and gravelly clay.
Eye: deep ruby
Nose: medium plus intensity aromas of violets and elderflower, fresh ripe, blueberries, blackberries, blackberry pie filling, rosemary, juniper.
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium plus grippy, sandpaper tannins, full body, high alcohol, medium plus intensity flavors, medium plus finish. Flavors follow the nose with deep dark fruits and rosemary lingering.
Observations: A big red wine from a warm place, this wine definitely shows where it’s from. Felt right at home with herb crusted lamb chops.

Maury Rancio wines age unsealed, out in the sun. They acquire all those interesting oxidized notes. Photo courtesy of winesofroussillon.com

Maury – Sweet
Historically, the region has been known for their fortified wines known as Vins Doux Naturels (VDN). During fermentation, a neutral grape spirit (think flavorless brandy) is added to the fermenting must. The French term for this is “mutage”. This addition kills the yeast and stops fermentation, resulting in a higher alcohol wine with natural sweetness. So far, the process is similar to that of Port from Portugal. The wines may then be aged in large casks for multiple years. Rancio wines are a unique specialty of Maury. After aging in cask, the wines are poured into 60 liter glass demi-johns and left out in the open for a full year. The demi-johns are neither full nor sealed and they sit out in the sun and the weather. This exposure produces the unique rancio flavors from oxidation, solar radiation and whatever Mother Nature delivered that year.

Are you a fan of oxidized, fortified wines? You should give Maury Rancio a try!

Domaine du Dernier Bastion Maury Rancio AOP “Vielle au Soleil” 2007 ($38 available online here) 15.5% abv
Domaine du Dernier Bastion is a historic winery, established in 1798. Their Rancio wine is 100% Grenache Noir and is only produced in the best vintages.
Eye: Medium tawny
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of raisins, prunes, dried figs, butterscotch, caramel, toasted pecans, musty basement.
Mouth: Medium sweet, medium plus acidity, medium minus silky tannins, full body, low alcohol (15.5% is considered low for a fortified wine), pronounced flavors, long finish. Flavors follow the nose with dried fruits, raisins, figs, caramel, toasted pecans, and just a hint of that musty basement.
Observations: If you’re a fan of oxidized fortified wines such as Tawny Port, Cream Sherry, you definitely should seek out a Rancio wine from Maury. Drink it with a bit of a chill as your dessert. My first choice pairing would be nuts and hard cheeses after dinner, but it was surprisingly good with Julie’s scratch sponge cake with strawberries and mascarpone.

Maury Finds by the French Winophiles
Take a look below at the Maury wines our Winophiles detectives were able to uncover. Why not join our chat on Saturday, June 19 from 10-11am CDT on Twitter? Just search for us at the #Winophiles tag.

Rack of lamb and veggie tian seem pretty French. Sweet corn is 100% Minnesota!

Rack of Lamb with Vegetable Tian
The Mas Amiel Legende was a natural with our rack of lamb. Savory and structured, it balanced the rich lamb and both wine and food had subtle herbal notes that each seemed to highlight in the other. I wasn’t really expecting the Dernier Bastion Rancio wine to pair well with the strawberry cake, but the butterscotch and nutty notes in the wine were a nice additional to all the fresh fruit and mascarpone in the cake.

Reverse Seared Rack of Lamb on the Grill


Any type of grill can be used here, as long as you can set up a direct heat side and an indirect heat side. I’m a fan of my Primo Ceramic Grill, as it’s designed for easy split cooking. Note that you’ll want to start the vegetable tian about 15 – 20 minutes before the lamb. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your grill to get relative times correct, but it’s worth it!

Ingredients

  • 1 Rack of Lamb (1/2 rack for me, as I’m the only one who eats lamb. Steak for everyone else)
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Sea salt – 1/2 tsp per pound of lamb

Directions

  1. Start the grill with the direct side at around 425° F, the indirect side will be less. You’ll be starting the vegetable tian first.
  2. Salt the rack of lamb – about 1/2 tsp per pound of lamb.
  3. Pile up the herbs, garlic, and a bit of EVOO, just enough to moisten. Then mince everything together finely.
  4. Coat the outside of the lamb with the herb mixture, covering the entire rack. Insert a temperature probe into the center of the lamb.
  5. Place the lamb on the indirect side of the grill, the idea is to bring the entire rack up to a rare temperature before a final sear.
  6. Monitor the lamb internal temperature and remove the rack when the temperature is about 125° F.
  7. After removing the vegetable tian from the direct side (or swapping it to indirect), open the vents a bit and place the lamb rack on the direct side.
  8. Sear on high heat to your desired doneness. For medium rare, this may only take 2-3 minutes top and bottom.

Vegetable Tian on the Grill



I love cooking this in a cast iron skillet on the grill. You can use a wide variety of vegetable and herbs, depending on your guests preferences. A classic combination is potato, onion, pepper, eggplant, zucchini, but anything sliceable is fair game. A 10 inch skillet makes plenty for 4 people. If the grill is too scary, you can easily cook this in the oven at 425° F.

Ingredients

  • 3 russet baking potatoes sliced into large coins 1/4-1/2 inch thick
  • 3-4 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 medium white onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 orange, red or green peppers – your choice, sliced
  • fresh herb mix, use what you like. Today we used garlic with sage, thyme, rosemary from the garden
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Set the grill for 1/2 direct, 1/2 indirect cooking.
  2. Pre-heat the grill to medium heat on the direct side (about 425° F dome temperature on my grill)
  3. Chop the herbs together finely, adding a bit of EVOO to moisten.
  4. Squirt 1-2 tsp of EVOO into the bottom of the cast iron skillet to prevent sticking.
  5. Build your ring of vegetables by alternating them in order, going all the way around the skillet.
  6. Sprinkle the herb mixture over the top of the vegetable ring, and finish with a drizzle of EVOO on top.
  7. Salt and pepper as you like.
  8. On a ceramic grill, the skillet doesn’t need to be covered. Other grills may need foil over the veggies initially.
  9. Cook the veggies over medium heat, the cast iron skillet will tolerate direct grill heat without burning the bottom of the veggies.
  10. If you’re cooking with the lamb (or steak), you can move the tian to the indirect side to keep it warm while you sear the meat.

Comments
13 Responses to “Maury Savory and Sweet #Winophiles”
  1. culinarycam says:

    Oh, I’m inspired to get some lamb for the grill! Soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to track down some Maury one of these days.

  2. wendyklik says:

    What an amazing dinner and why on earth have I never thought to buy myself lamb chops when cooking Frank a steak? Thanks for the head knock Jeff.

    • Thanks Wendy. I keep regular lamb chops in the freezer at the ready, for whenever Julie isn’t going to be around at dinner. This last year has been tough in that regard!

  3. robincgc says:

    I definitely need to locate one of the VDNs from this region. I love that they concentrate the flavors in Demi-Johns in the heat.
    Your Tian looks so delicious! I will have to try that, once we hit grilling weather again! LOL! (maybe in the fall!)

    • Thanks Robin. The VDN’s are fun, I’m especially fond of the oxidized ones as I’m a Tawny Port fan. I never thought about Las Vegas being too hot to grill, but you have a point.

  4. The color on that Rancio is so beautiful! I’m going to have to make a concerted effort to experience a VDN. Is the musty basement expected in a VDN? I want some of Julie’s sponge cake please;)

  5. Deanna says:

    it’s really not very nice to post photos of strawberry shortcake that looks so luscious and pairs with the wine too! trying so hard to reach over the screen…but failing…

  6. Delicious-looking dishes, as usual. Would love to find a dry Maury next!

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