The Rosés of Bandol and Provence 'Hot and Spicy'
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An epic episode where @elizabeth.gabaymw and @sumiliertasting introduce different spices and herbs to pair rosé wines to prove the gastronomic appeal of these iconic wine producers. As our lovely viewer said, the sign of a great wine talk is the breaking of glass and so it did happen with my #zalto 🤪😆😁. Watch us as we introduce some long standing respectable producers of Provence and Bandol @domainedelabegude @domaine_tempier @domaineott #domainedebrigue! And pair them with some really fancy international #homecooked foods, made by us...It’s /so much to be adventurous, #diversityisbeautiful!! Vietnamese spring rolls, Courgette flower fritters, Vegetable pakoras, vegan sushi, tomato orange salsa and Mature goats cheese dips....it’s all here and much more......you get the recipes for the sauces from us too! Add in some exotic foods in to your rosé wine and you will be surprised to see the diversity of food pairings with rosé wines! #iloverocknrosé #roséwine . . #quarantinechef #sumiliertasting #elizabethgabaymw #masterchef #exoticfood #foodandwinepairing #foodandwinemagazine #womeninwine #wineexperience #wineexpert #talkshowonline #instatv #wine #bandol #provence #inclusionmatters #bameinhospitality @vinsdebandol @vinsdeprovenceuk
Background to the wines
Provence is one of the oldest wine regions of France, stretching 300km east from the Rhone Valley to almost the Italian border, and is blessed with a variety of terroir and long hot summers, making it home to a variety of southern grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Tibouren, Rolle (Vermentino) and Clairette. All Provence rosés are dry, with the ripe fruit giving weight and roundness to the body and a fresh minerality emphasising the moderate acidity. Normally their fresh delicacy is regarded as the ultimate pairing for fresh summer salads and light fish dishes, but we decided to be different and look at the slightly weightier, spicier rosés made from Mourvèdre.
Bandol, a small appellation in south west Provence, was created in 1941. It covers white, red and rosé wines from 1,550 ha around the town of Bandol. The hot Mediterranean summers, maritime breezes and fresh clay and limestone soils make this region very distinct from the rest of Provence as they provide perfect conditions for the Mourvèdre grape to thrive, it is said Mourvèdre needs its feet in the sea and its head in the sun for the best fruit! In order to be classified as Bandol AOP a minimum of 50% Mourvèdre is compulsory in red wines and 20% in rosés. Traditionally, Bandol rosés are regarded as the most long lived rosés. The rosés of Côtes de Provence AOP and Coteaux Varois AOP are primarily based around Grenache and Cinsault, with only a few, coastal vineyards adding in Mourvèdre.
Domaine Ott’s Château Romassan was my first Bandol rosé selection. This wine has been rated as one of the top 5 rosé fine wines of the world. Focused on a modern expression of Bandol, Domaine Ott is a respectable producer with longstanding history in Provence. The Ott family acquired Château Romassan in 1956. Priced at £35 (down during summer discount to £27 at Waitrose), the blend of grapes for Château Romassan’s rosé includes 50% Mourvèdre, 30% Cinsault and 20% Grenache. The estate works on a blend of soils with chalk, sandstone and gravel which are best suited for Mourvèdre’s focused spiced expression. This wine embodies the essence of spiced white pepper nuances distinct to Mourvèdre expression. The restrained fruitiness of strawberry, peach and lemon in this wine balances elegantly with its crisp and fresh acidity. Complexity from judicious use of oak for ageing adds the extra hint of toast and creamy texture.
To pair with this refreshing and creamy wine, I prepared Vietnamese spring rolls with chopped cucumbers, carrots, mint, coriander and bean sprouts, and paired them with peanut based creamy sauce (gluten-free and vegan). The mix of fresh herbs and vegetables proved to be a delightful pairing with the soft fruity and spiced edge of Mourvèdre and the aromatics of Cinsault; while the generous rounded body of Grenache was able to soak in the creamy texture of peanut sauce. A superb pairing of Vietnamese crunchy, fresh spring rolls to match with the Domaine Ott’s fresh and delicate style.
Domaine Tempier, an iconic wine producer of Bandol, was my second selection from Bandol. The Peyraud family, owners of Domaine Tempier were major instigators for creation of Bandol Appellation in 1941. This is a traditional expression of Bandol AC that shows intensely spiced nuances of Mourvèdre, more than Ott, while displaying riper strawberry, red currants, orange and nectarine fruits with zingy acidity, a notch more expressive than Ott.
To pair with this wine I prepared vegan sushi rolls (filled with avocado, cucumber and carrot). The soya sauce dip with wasabi worked out to be a brilliant pairing for this wine. The umami of soya sauce coupled with the pungency of wasabi and the kick of ginger paired perfectly with the intense mineral savouriness, ripe fruit and full body of Domaine Tempier. The starchy creaminess of the sushi rice and avocado complemented well with the plushness of Grenache fruit and subtle tannic grip of Mourvèdre. All in all, a perfect vegan, gluten-free dish that matched beautifully with this wine. Addition of salmon in the sushi rolls also works equally well with the wine as an additional ingredient.
I also prepared vegetable pakoras, an Indian savoury dish, to trial with each of these different-styled Bandol wines. These are fritters made from a mix of vegetables such as spinach, finely chopped beans, potatoes, carrots. I chopped them small and dropped them in a coarse batter made from chickpea and water to which I added salt, black pepper, cumin and ginger. Thereafter made oblong shaped balls and deep fried them in oil. The savoury spiced delicious Indian snack worked finely with the creamy texture of both Bandol wines. The purity of fruits of Château Romassan rosé of Domaine Ott highlighted the spiced expression of the pakoras, for those who prefer a spiced palate; while the more expressive ripe fruit spectrum of Domaine Tempier neutralised the heat from spices, equally adding the uplifting acidity to allow smooth flow of spices down the palate.
I would recommend using spices at low to moderate levels when pairing with Bandol wines, as overall these are restrained, dry and crisp wines that can get overshadowed if excessive flavouring and spices are added to foods. However, that does not mean they cannot be paired with Asian foods. In fact, Bandol wines are perfectly placed to take up crunchiness of vegetables, creaminess of rice-based dishes, mix of herbs and delicate spices such as cardamom, cumin through their creamy expression, fresh acidity and mid-palate weight thus making them truly enviable gastronomic wines. Not just pairing with Vietnamese, Japanese and Indian recipes but equally with a myriad of sauces and dips that use varied ingredients (recipes given above) only goes to highlight the complexity of these wines.
I decided to approach my choice of wines with a radically different selection - just to show that you cannot generalise about Provence rosés!
My first rosé was Oak 2015 from Château de Brigue, Côtes de Provence AOP. From central Provence, this is an unusual wine, in that it is almost all Mourvèdre, fermented and aged in wood. This was the only vintage Brigue made, because, as the winemaker Olivier Brun explained, the market was not yet ready for a more structural Provence rosé (although acceptable in Bandol). Although the colour had somewhat dropped out, this was an exceptional rosé. Vibrantly fresh with white peach and spice fruit and good structural weight from the oak, barely showing its age other than a seamless integration of oak and fruit.
I decided to pair this with a traditional Niçois dish of fried courgette flowers. Dipped in a batter and fried, they had an almost neutral, rich fatness which matched well with the ripeness of the fruit without dominating the wine. To give extra spice, instead of stuffing the flowers with goat’s cheese, I whipped up some mature goat’s cheese with a little yoghurt to serve with the flowers. The pungent creamy cheese was an exciting match with the creamy spice of the Brigue rosé.
My second wine was an atypical Bandol rosé. Irréductible 2019 from Domaine de la Bégude. Again, the highest percentage of Mourvèdre allowed was included, using old vines grown on some of the highest plots in Bandol around 400m. Bégude owner and winemaker, Guillaume Tari, is a Mourvèdre aficionado with several hundred clone trials on his estate - including an obscure old clone from the Loire valley! This rosé is unusually a deep rose red pink, and was, unsurprisingly, full of juicy ripe red berry fruit with crisp cranberry acidity, and fresh minerality with a twist of tannin on the finish. From past experience I know that this wine will age beautifully for at least 15 years, developing richer, more complex fruit. In fact, I decided it was infanticide to open this baby so used my new Coravin taking enough for this tasting and to keep the rest to age a little more.
I decided that the strong goat’s cheese would not balance the fruit so well, so chose to do a tomato salsa flavoured with orange and garlic to highlight the red fruit notes.
Similar to Sumi’s pakoras made with chickpea flour, a traditional dish from Nice, and often served, piping hot with chilled rosé is socca. Made with a chickpea flour batter and cooked on a big metal tray in a very hot oven, the ‘pancake’ is served fresh from the oven with salt and pepper.