Winery: Arnoux et Fils
Cuvée: Vieux Clocher
Grape Varieties: Grenache 70%, Syrah 25%, Mourvèdre 5%
Average Retail Price: U.S. $18-20
When faced with a recipe that is very spice-forward, I am sometimes at a loss for the wine selection. Spice, in this case, is all spice and no heat. The hottest spice within the recipe is the dried mustard powder. Ancho chile (sweet, not hot), cumin, coriander, and mustard are the other ingredients in the rub. Without the chile, one would take this for Moroccan or Middle Eastern. Does the addition of the chile make it a Mexican or South American? Or is it just a fusion of complementary flavors? Whatever the case, there is a lot of flavor going on here and the wine needed to be just right.
I called in the pros for a little advice. Susan said that she definitely thought a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) blend would be good, and I knew she was right. In addition to the spices, it is a good blend to accompany duck, which was the vehicle for all the above mentioned spice. And the sauce was dark and fruity. For the Spiced Duck with Blackberry-Balsamic Reduction, head over to Cocoa & Lavender.
Although I had several possibilities from which to choose for the pairing, I (with counsel from Susan) chose the 2016 Vieux Clocher Vacqueyras.
The intense purple color of the wine aligns perfectly with its robust fruity nose layered with holiday spices — cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg — and a touch of leather. While soft on the palate, it is a powerhouse of flavors — ripe dark berries, plum, and spice, finishing long with black pepper.
The spice in the wine paired perfectly with the spice rib for the duck, and especially with the blackberry-balsamic sauce. I get nervous around vinegar pairing with wine but this was flawless.
The wine alone is stellar — especially for the price point — but with the duck it was out of this world.