Fall for French Cuisine

My niece was born this month and I have been preparing meals for the new little family. Thankfully, it is harvest time (even for grapes too)! Admittedly, I am excited for fall (beyond my beautiful niece’s presence).  I can’t say that I love one season more than another.  Yet when it comes to cooking, the transition from summer to fall sparks the creative in me.

Our tomato plants are ripening.  We are harvesting sweet peas as well as plotting the potential new garden for the fall. For those of you that support our local CSA’s, this is the time of year that we scratch our heads a bit and wonder what… what is this thing and what do I do with it? Well, as we saunter towards the fall season, here are some classic French cuisine recipes to guide us (maybe with a few pairings too…)

Endive, Curly (Fresée), Arugula or Dandelion GreensSalade Lyonnaise  Pair with a Patrick Clerget Mâcon (Burgundy, France)

Kale and Greens– Hamhock Stew and Veggies | Garbure  This is a thick rich stew, yet something savory and lighter bodied pairs fantastic!  Domaine Allégret Laudun Côtes du Rhône Villages (Southern Rhône, France)

TomatoesDaube de Boeuf Provencal with Vignerons Propriétés Associés Première Réserve (Languedoc, France) or try out this Tarte Tartin with Château du Grand Caumont “Impatience” (Corbières, France)

PeppersPoulet Basquaise Roasted chicken with peppers… oh yes please: Domaine de Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Classique (Southern Rhône, France)

TurnipNavarin d’Agneau  Savory and rich lamb cooked with potatoes and turnips- Enjoy with Domaine Le Mourre Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Côtes du Rhône, France) 100% Grenache that will knock your socks off!

Herbs and PotatoesBaeckeoffe  A meat stew slow cooked with potatoes and juniper berries.  Pair with Les Couventines Gigondas (Côtes du Rhône, France)

Artichoke HeartsRed Snapper en Papillote Couscous with freshly baked Red Snapper in artichoke hearts and tomatoes would pair nicely with Domaine Jacky Marteau Touraine Gamay (Loire Valley, France)

LeeksVichyssoise  AKA  Potato, Leek soup = Domaine Perraud Crémant de Bourgogne “Le Grand Sorbier” (Burgundy, France)

Zucchini– Soupe au Pistou  Summer Vegetable Soup with Pesto- enjoy with Domaine Haut de Mourier (Languedoc, France)

SquashButternut Bisque –Robust cream based soup with a touch of carrot to boot- Enjoy with a slightly oaked Burgundian Chardonnay: Domaine Claude Nouveau Santenay “Le Chainey” (Burgundy, France)

Because it is delicious…  Cassoulet  Since it is cooked with duck confit, enjoy this recipe with Château Franc Grâce-Dieu St-Emilion Grand Cru (Bordeaux, France).

Pan Bagnat  Also  is a killer tuna based sandwich with peppers and capers.  Enjoy with La Colline aux Princes Sancerre (Loire Valley, France)

Salad Mix (Mesclun*) – Nicoise  One of my FAVORITE salads- fresh tuna, nicoise olives, capers, egg… mmmm… Enjoy this with Domaine de Herbauges Muscadet Côte du Granlieu Sur Lie (Loire Valley, France)

Pumpkin–  Pumpkin Pot This is a traditional French country soup.  Nothing better than to enjoy with a rich and dry Alsatian wine!  Domaine Moltès Pinot Blanc Réserve (Alsace, France)

CauliflowerRoasted  with the elegant and subtly oily Chateau des Eyssards Bergerac Sec Cuvée Prestige (Bergerac, France) or as a Souffle with Paul Reitz Santenay (Burgundy, France)

Sweet PotatoSouffle Another Souffle?  Yes please!  This is a dynamic recipe with a bit of Gruyere.  Go Bordeaux!  Château Le Caillou Pomerol (Bordeaux, France) or even La Croix Dillanges Saint-Julien (Bordeaux, France) for an extra kick.

CeleryCéleri-Rav Rémoulade– Oh yes, yes we can not ignore the rémoulade…  Château Martinot Entre-Deux-Mers (Bordeaux, France)

I hope that you are as entertained by these as I have been!  Please stop by with your fall recipes to pair- regardless of France!

Cheers!  Jaci

Bordeaux Illuminated

How is it that the marshy, maritime region of Bordeaux came to fruition? Cold wet winters and springs with the Atlantic to the west, autumn humidity and spring time frost- does not seem too appealing as a viticultural area.  Yet the evidence of wine making is found in the area dating back to 4th century AD!  The Dutch play a huge role in irrigation channels and trade for Claret.  The latter enticing England to establish its dominance in the region- and actually rule that area for almost 300 years!

The influx of wealth and investment lead to negociants and brokers.  With vested interest in the area, old wealth held strong to the properties even to this day!  Over the last few decades we see investment in Bordeaux from China as well.  Once the en primeur sales (annual open house of Bordeaux wine as futures) are released, Bordeaux is on fire.

With the Gironde Estuary from the Atlantic Ocean, the region is split by the Garronne and Dordogne Rivers as one proceeds east.  On the southern end, the banks of the Garronne River hosts the Left Bank of Bordeaux (as well as the city of Bordeaux).  Left Bank hosts two regions (Medoc/Haut Medoc and Graves) and 8 AOP villages (listed below).  On the northern end of these rivers is the Dordogne which hosts the Right Bank and the Côte du Blaye and Côte du Borg.  As the rivers split, they leave the area Entre Deux Mers (in between the seas), which is 100% white wine.  Each area has its own claim to fame.  So let’s break it down:
Left Bank Bordeaux … Medoc/Haut Medoc
1. Located on the left bank of the Gironde estuary and Garonne river
2. The Médoc soil consists of gravel topsoil with Margaux showing increased layers of limestone, sand and clay.
3. 100% red wine.  This gravely soil structure is vital for the maturation of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère
4. Médoc – the northern region with three sub regions (Haut, Médoc, Bas)
5. Notable villages:  Médoc AOP, Haut-Médoc AOP, Saint-Estèphe AOP, Pauillac AOP, Saint-Julien AOP, Listrac-Médoc AOP, Moulis/Moulis-en-Médoc AOP, Margaux AOP
6. All first growths except one are located in the Médoc area.  What’s First Growth and 1855 Classification of Bordeaux?

Left Bank Médoc Bordeaux wines are structured, tannic and expressive!

Currently in stock for Left Bank | Médoc:

  • Château Lalande de Gravelong (Medoc) Reg. $21.99 *Nov 1st
  • Château La Valière (Medoc) Reg. $23.99 *Nov 1st
  • Fleur du Grand Port (Pauillac)  Reg.$45.99
  • Josephine de Boyd (Margaux) Reg. $61.99 *Nov 1st
  • La Croix Dillanges (Saint-Julien) Reg. $40.99
  • Les Chevaliers de Dauprat (Pauillac) Reg. $32.99

Left Bank Bordeaux … Graves
1. Located on the left bank of the Gironde estuary and Garonne river, the original wine making area
2. Graves, similar to Médoc, shows a sandier mixture with gravel and light clay (known as boulbenes) especially in the southern areas.
3. Mix of reds and whites, similar to Médoc with gravely soil structure and Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenère red varietals; whites similar to Entre Deux Mers- Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.
4. Graves – the southern region which produces white, reds and dessert wines
5. Notable villages: three smaller sweet wine appellations— (Cérons, Barsac, and Sauternes); Pessac-Léognan AOP (red and white)
6. Of all the first growth designations from the 1855, Château Haut-Brion is the only one located in Graves.  All others are in Medoc! Château d’Yquem is a first growth superior (Premier Cru Supérieur) in the Sauternes AOP.

Left Bank Graves Bordeaux red wines are structured, tannic and expressive; whites are dry, crisp and refreshing; sweet wines are succulent with spicy undertones.

Currently in stock for Left Bank | Graves

  • Château Lafargue (Pessac-Leognon Blanc & Rouge) Reg. $38.99

Right Bank Bordeaux …
1. Located on the right bank of the Dordogne river
2. Soil consists of sand, clay and gravel with layers of limestone outside of Pomerol and iron rich clay (crasse de fer) in Pomerol.
3.  The varietals nurtured by this unique soil structure are Merlot, Cabernet Franc and moderate amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon
4. Pomerol is 70-80% Merlot and 20-25% Cabernet Franc, aka Bouchet
5. St. Émilion (and surrounding Pomerol areas) are 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec
6. The origin of the garagiste movement- Garage wines!

Right Bank Bordeaux wines are soft, elegant and plush on the palate!

Currently in stock for Right Bank

  • Belle Eleonore (Lussac St-Emilion Rouge) Reg. $19.99
  • Château Franc Grace-Diex (AOC Saint Emilion Grand Cru) Reg. $32.99
  • Château Guadet (AOC Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé) Reg. $97.99
  • Château Le Caillou (Pomerol) Reg. $53.99
  • Château Mazeyres Le Seuil de Mazeyres (Pomerol) Reg. $41.99 *Nov 1st
  • L’Adage  (Saint-Emilion) Reg. $23.99

1. Located in between the rivers Garonne and Dordogne
2. Though translation is “in between two seas”, some claim it is “marée” which is tide- in between two tides.
3. To be suspected- the soil is representative of the rivers upon which it banks: clay and limestone along the Dordogne next to a steep cliff; “boulbènes” very suitable to white grape varieties in the center and southern part of the plateau, with limestone and fine gravel on the southern slopes; in the north, clay and limestone with stretches of gravel and sandy zones; in the east, a majority of silty soils.
4. 100% white wine, dry.  Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadelle
5. Some sub-regions vinified sweet with botrytis.
Dry, crisp whites, meant to be consumed young, however some can age.

Currently in stock for Entre-Deux-Mers:

  • Château Martinot (Entre-Deux-Mers) Reg. $15.99

Blaye, Bourg, & Côtes de Bordeaux
1. Located west of Right Bank, is the Blaye, Côte de Blaye, Bourg and the Côte de Bourg.  The oldest vineyards in Bordeaux are located here.  (“Côte de” is a smaller sub region within the region noted.)
2. Côtes de Bordeaux is the surrounding areas outside all other designated areas mentioned above. This appellation merges together the outlying areas so that it is easier for the consumer to recognize the area, however it can be from either Left, Right or Bourg areas!
3. All three areas produce reds and whites similar to the surrounding areas, however Blaye and  Côte de Blaye produce whites of Ugni Blanc and Colombard.
4. Premières Côtes de Bordeaux AOP will only be sweet wines, and Côtes de Bordeaux-Saint-Macaire AOP produces sec (dry), moelleux (soft/lightly sweet), or liquereux (liquer/stronger and rich) styles

The wines from these areas vary!  Some are fantastic, some are what they are!  The whites from the Blaye are oily and rich- fantastic with poultry, oily fish, clams and savory foods.

Currently in stock for Blaye, Borg, Côte de Bordeaux

  • Château La Galante (Bordeaux Blanc) Reg. $14.99 *Nov 1st
  • La Fleur Chazal  (Bordeaux Blanc & Rouge) Reg. $15.99

We hope that you enjoyed the Bordeaux highlights here! There is always more to explore and learn!  Stop by soon to check out Jens’ new Bordeaux wines and taste!

Cheers-  Jaci

Manager|Sommelier|Food+Wine Writer