Provençal Pairings: Wine with Food

Angels at My Table

by David Scott Allen

Winery: Caves d’Esclans
Cuvée: Whispering Angel
Appellation: Côtes de Provence
Type: Rosé
Vintage: 2016
Grape Varieties: Grenache, with Rolle (Vermentino) and Cinsault
Alcohol: 13%
Average Retail Price: France €15.00 U.S. $18.00

Winery: Château d’Esclans
Cuvée: Rock Angel
Appellation: Côtes de Provence
Type: Rosé
Vintage: 2016
Grape Varieties: Grenache and Rolle (Vermentino)
Alcohol: 13.5%
Average Retail Price: France €20.00 U.S. $36.00

When in the company of angels, you had better plan a decent meal. Right?

Disclosure: I was graciously given these two bottles of wine for the purpose of creating a food pairing. As always, all opinions are solely my own.

Whispering Angel and Rock Angel are the first two of four wines from Château d’Esclans. The next two up the ladder are Les Clans and Garrus. While I have yet to taste either of these latter two, I am excited to have a bottle of Garrus aging nicely and awaiting a special occasion… perhaps my 60th birthday later this year?

Taking advice from those who know (and you know who they are) I served the Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel as the wine of choice for apéritifs. I offered my guests some almonds and goat cheese tartlets flavored with mushrooms, shallots, and brandy. Stay tuned for this recipe on Cocoa & Lavender.

For our main course, paired with the Château d’Esclans Rock Angel, I opted for the simple and elegant Boullettes de Poisson à la Marseillaise. The recipe for the Boullettes is on Cocoa & Lavender this week.

This tasting wasn’t a contest between the two wines, but I will say and say that I – and my guests – found the Rock Angel to be a real winner. While slightly lighter in color than the Whispering Angel, this wine is about strength. We all agreed that the nose was full, complex, and enticing. Hints of grapefruit zest and deep red fruits had us hurriedly tipping our glasses to taste. The Rock is very full bodied, with intense minerality, and a pleasant – if surprising – acidity.

All this adds up to being an excellent pairing for the soup of boulettes. We played with our food and wine a bit, tasting the wine with the broth, the wine with the boulettes, and the wine with both together. It is part of the fun of tasting and pairing, discovering that different flavors in the wine were accentuated by what was on the spoon. For me, I was happiest with I had some broth and some of the boulettes in one bite. The preserved lemon and North African spices in the boulettes with the fennel and saffron on the broth made the wine sing.  No whispering here – it’s a pure “shout it from the mountaintops” kind of wine. This wine is drinkable right now, but could easily be aged in your cave for a bit.

Backing up a wee bit, the Whispering Angel was delightful for our apéritifs. The nose is light, offering the aroma of strawberry, green apple, and citrus – and the alcohol, while low at 13%, was evident in the bouquet. This Angel is light – one guest described it as the perfect picnic wine, while another said it was her choice for a hot summer’s day. (An aside: it was February 1st when we tasted this, and the mercury in the Sonoran Desert hit 81°F/27°C… thus, the refreshing flavors of Whispering Angel were much appreciated!) It paired very well with the goat cheese tartlets, and especially well with the raw almonds. The time to drink this Angel is now, although no harm will come from a bit of time on the shelf.

I am sincerely grateful to Patricia Allen Lornell, Brand Ambassador for Château d’Esclans, New England, for providing the wines for today’s tasting and pairing.

4 Comments

  1. I know the wines are heavenly and the soup looks delicious. I will try your recipe. Thanks.

  2. This recipe looks delicious and I am sure it will pair well with any Provence rosé. I will try this on the next snowy day to transport me back to warmer Provence!

  3. I know these wines well–I have a few in waiting right now–but don’t know your soup. it looks like a great combo!

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