There is one grape variety that has the capacity to make Meridional Rhône wines unique : Grenache.
Brought from Spain where it is also named Garnatxa in Priorat, it has this unique capacity to reach high alcohol levels without bringing too much tannins. Young, it expresses red fruits aromas spicy aromas which evolve to spices, especially black pepper. With its hight alcohol level, it permits the wines to age, especially where it is vinified with its stem that brings additional acidity.
Apart from the wines from Collioures and Banyuls where it is the only grappe, it is commun to blend it in Provence with Syrah and Mourvèdre.
The best Rhône wines I had with pure Grenache is Château Rayas in Chateauneuf du Pape (and especially the 2002 - See M. Parker, 2002 is not only water), La Roche Buissière "Le Claux" near Vaison La Romaine, Domaine de Gramenon "Le Gramenon" in Vinsobres and Domaine Rabasse Charavin "Estevenas" in Cairanne which are all made with old vines and which will pair very well with this typical Provençal Daube de Boeuf recipe* made by Leslie or by Laura.
And you can understand now why I fell in love with the property we are in the process of buying and where there is a 8 acres parcel of 51 years olf Grenache contenplenting Mont Ventoux !
Any comments, edits are very welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Provencal "Daube de Boeuf" recipe for 6-8 people
2 pounds stew meat
3 yellow onions
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 1/2-inch lengths
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2-3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs
5 peppercorns, lightly crushed
4 whole cloves
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 bouquet garni of bay leaves and thyme
1 bottle of red wine, such as Bandol or Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 orange zest strips, about 1/2-inch wide
3-4 thick slices of bacon, chopped (we get small packages of lardons here, which make this part really easy!)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped.
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cut beef into roughly equal pieces. Place the beef in a large dish and add 1 of the onions and the carrots, garlic, parsley, celery peppercorns, cloves, nutmeg and bouquet garni. Add wine and vinegar, cover, and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
The next day, remove the beef from the refrigerator. Pass the marinade mixture through a sieve placed over a bowl to capture the liquid. Remove the onion and carrots from the sieve. Pat the beef and vegetables dry on paper towels. Pick out the bouquet garni and spices from the sieve, placing the peppercorns and cloves into a mesh tea ball, cheesecloth OR muslin bag and add the orange zest strips to whatever you are using to contain these ingredients. This parcel of spices will be dropped into the daube pot before it goes into the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). In a large, heavy Dutch oven or sauté pan, add the bacon and brown to render the fat. Add the olive oil and the onion from the marinade. Working the meat in batches, add the beef and brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes. Return all the beef to the pan. Add the reserved liquid and carrots from the marinade, the remaining onion wedges, the tomatoes, and the parcel of herbs. Add the bouquet garni and the "bag" of spices to the pot. Pour in enough water just to reach the top of the meat, then cover the pot with foil, sealing it tightly, before securing the lid onto the pot. (Traditionally, a daube pot is sealed with a paste made of flour and water. Happily, I found the foil seal worked very well.)
Place covered pot into a 350ºF oven and cook for one hour. Lower the temperature to 250º F (120ºC) and cook an additional 3 to 4 hours (this is very flexible after the 4 hour mark), until the meat falls apart easily. (During the last hour of cooking, I take the foil off and determine to continue "covered or uncovered" from this point based on the consistency of the sauce.)
Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the bouquet garni and spice bag from the pot. Adjust the seasonings and serve immediately.
Serve with steamed or oven roasted potatoes, gnocchi or pasta. (Give them all a try and you decide which will star alongside your daube!)
Update on our vineyard project....
I continue to prune our vines with the help of Xavier who owns vines in Cairanne. Since I have the chance to get lots of information from an experienced vine grower, I try then to think about the future "bio" fights against summer diseases (Oidium and "Vers de la Grappe"). Any ideas ?
This week was very warm for a winter day (I was in tee shirt the afternoon) and hopefully this won't continue because vines need to rest at this, time period and certainly not bloom. My days were sometimes distracted by the shows of the "Patrouille de France" (1 MB vidéo) which was practising with their jets just above our vines !
In the meantime, I still consult to buy the concrete tanks in order to get the best deal, having in mind that we have space limits. And we have bought from the previous owner the tractor and all the material to work the vines.