This month we celebrate Wine Pairing Weekend (#wineWP) with a declaration of our indulgence on Open That Bottle Night (#OTBN), an evening set aside to encourage wine lovers to pop open a bottle that’s been considered “too special” to drink on a regular night. The founders of Open That Bottle Night are Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall St. Journal. The event was first celebrated in the year 2000, and the practice continued this year on February 27, 2016, taking place traditionally on the last Saturday in February.
Everyone has their own outlook on this honorary holiday and in my house that means opening a few bottles from a special location. To me, wine is the place from which it comes (terroir and memories both being powerful) and so we opened bottles from one of our favorite places on earth: Provence.
Lots of excellent wine is made Provence, and I have a long list of favorites which seems to expand with every new Provençal winemaker I meet. Provence is a spiritual home for me and my husband and we feel particularly soothed in the stony shadows of les Alpilles, a region made artfully immortal by the work of Vincent van Gogh. You’ve seen his work, the rough hills, the open sky, the tangled scrub brush, the flourished steeple. These are the physical surroundings of the region where our special wine is grown, nurtured and bottled.
The vignerons des Baux-de-Provence celebrated 2o years of formal collaboration of being French winemaking AOP. Last summer I had the opportunity to cover this milestone for Provence WineZine and here on L’occasion. For all the background on the AOP that birthed by special bottles, including pictures and a profile, please visit:
While Les Baux-de-Provence Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) is unmistakably Provençal in landscape (think stone, herbs, olives, sun, and wind), it is neighbors with the Rhône Valley, a wine region known for their rich, red blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Les Baux red wines have the heft and body of a Southern Rhône wine, baked with the garrigue and olive essence of Provence. (Les Baux is a designated appellation for olives and olive oil.) The marriage of the two flavor palates and the dedication to sustainable, organic practices was the primary impetus, over twenty years ago, to explore separating from the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence appellation.
Les Baux-de-Provence is located within the Bouches du Rhône department of Provence. Although the appellation is small and relatively new, the twelve winemaking estates have earned well-deserved praise for their predominantly organic and biodynamic practices. Not yet a legislative mandate, the men and women who make wine here employ earth-friendly practices as a matter of tradition and principle. As much as 85% of the area is devoted to an organic or biodynamic approach.
My husband and brought back some wine from a recent trip to the Alpilles region of Provence (in our suitcase, of course…the sometimes-only way to get local wine back to the US if no importer is involved). Because it is such an intense and pleasant reminder of our time there, Open That Bottle Night fosters satisfactory reason to get into the wines that take us back to the olive groves, gravel road, late night, culinary delight, hand holding, flâneur afternoons, big sky, never forget moments that we shared in Provence.
Since we love to indulge ourselves while in Provence, we indulge ourselves at home in honor of the light-hearted travelers we are, even on a cool February night in Illinois. The fire doesn’t die even though we are a continent away. It’s our fire, really, so we can light it whenever we want. We chose to light it with these gorgeous bottles:
Mas de Gourgonnier Reserve du Mas 2010: Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon
Mas de Gourgonnier Rouge 2012: Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre
This set is a lovely representation of the red wines of the region, a spot where rosé is queen, and I’m pleased to bring these rich bottles into the light of day for this Wine Paring Weekend. One of the most captivating flavor delights of the red wine of the region in general, and these estates in particular, is the influence of the olive groves that are nurtured on the property (the region is a dedicated appellation for olives and olive oil as well as wine). There is the essence of olives combined with the garrigue profile that I identify entirely with wines from this region. There aren’t many of these reds available in the US, so I’d certainly name them eligible and worthy for Open That Bottle Night!
As I always do when food is involved, I called upon my husband to prepare a meal to grace the evening along with these beauties. He chose one of his favorite French dishes (one of everyone’s favorite French dishes): Steak Frites. He’s written here to serve with rosé because that is one of his favorite meals when in Paris: rosé vin de table avec steak frites while watching le Tour Eiffel shimmy at sundown. And why not? That is a fantastic evening too, one that we love to share together.
This Wine Paring Weekend is in collaboration with Cooking Chat and other food and wine writers that celebrate the moments in life where perfect delights come together! We’d love to have you join us for a Twitter chat this Saturday, March 12th at 10:00 am Central time. Utilize the hashtags #winePW and #OTBN to connect to the conversation.
Be sure to check out all the tasty Open That Bottle Night Wine Pairings from #winePW:
Culinary Adventure with Camilla will post “Dracaena’s Cabernet Franc with Steak au Poivre et Thé”
Curious Cuisiniere is pairing “Teriyaki Salmon and Pinot Noir”
Dracaena Wines will share “When Will Some Day Be? Open That Bottle Now”
Tasting Pour is posting “Steak Diane and Bell Cab Sauvignon”
Rockin Red Blog is sharing “Open That Bottle Night with a Beautiful Italian”
Pull That Cork will blog about “Wine, Friends and Food: Our OTBN and #winePW Evening”
L’Occasion will share “Wines of Les Baux-de-Provence to Enjoy with Steak Frites” (you’re here!)
foodwineclick will post “Are You Kidding Me? Rosé for OTBN?”
The Armchair Sommelier will share “OTBN: A Pipe, a Port, and a Pudding”
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will be bringing us An Italian-Theme #OTBN
Cooking Chat will be posting “Pork Tenderloin with Mushroom Sauce and a Burgundy”
Don’t forget to join us for a live Twitter chat about Open That Bottle Night wine pairings, on Saturday, March 12, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time/10 a.m. Central Time. Just tune into the hashtag #winePW. You can also plan to join us next month’s event.
In April we will be talking about Spring Meal Pairings for Southern Rhone Wines, hosted by me, here at L’Occasion. You can get the full list of past and upcoming #winePW event here. If you are interested in participating please send me a note via the contact form here at L’occasion.