My husband has a pair of jeans that he calls his painting jeans. He’s kept them around for painting projects, each one adding to the mess that makes them the perfect source of memories: here is the Ralph Lauren red from the upstairs hallway; here’s the Phillipsburg blue from the dining room; here’s the pink from the hummingbirds in the big-girl room… it goes on and on. We’ve been married for 15 years and lived in five houses, each one receiving our ‘handy’ work to make it just-right for our family.
And over the years, just-right has meant a lot of things. At one point, a nursery was a priority, that gave way to a room with bunk beds. A master near the kids was once important, not so much now that my son plays his own records at teenager volume. We once had a claw-foot bathtub, great for bathing toddlers but no shower with teenage football players? Not happening! In the rising and setting of family suns, things change.
And we didn’t always have Échezeaux in our cellar…in fact, we didn’t always have a cellar. In our first house the basement room that could have been a cellar was turned into my office. I started my novel there, and helped by oldest son learn to use a mouse on my PC computer…but no cellar. But that doesn’t mean no wine. In fact, we’ve always been wine lovers, since before we were married, but we just worked our way “up” as you do, through experience.
This is story about our Old Standby. The faithful bottle that is ‘sure to please without breaking the bank’. For us, that wine has been the under $10 lineup from La Vieille Ferme, made by Famille Perrin in the Southern Rhône Valley. Up front, I’ve never gotten a media sample or anything else from Famille Perrin, this relationship is totally organic. When we fell in love with Rhône wines, this bottle was very accessible, easy-to-get, priced-right and always a hit at parties. Even people with expensive Napa wine club memberships went for these bottles. They can be found easily, in wine shops and grocery stores in red, white and rosé. It always seemed simple enough, but on a recent trip to the Orange area – where La Vieille Ferme is located – I drove by the domaine. I’d expected something more industrial, something that looked like a place where accessible wine was made, but it is a little place, rustic and set just off the main road. Later, when I wrote about Mount Ventoux wines (an appellation in the area) I discovered something else about La Vieille Ferme…they made several other wines, a selection more robust than the selection I’d seen and bought over the years.
Southern Rhône Wine Classification
Famille Perrin La Vielle Ferme presents a lesson in how Southern Rhône wines are classified. The wines above are vins de France, a very general classification that means the grapes to make the wine were grown in France. This is a product of France, bottled by La Vieille Ferme. Likely the wine contains mostly local grapes, but ones that were grown out of appellation jurisdiction. However, the flavor profile and varietal selection are in line with the southern Rhône aesthetic, for example, the 2016 rosé contains Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah – traditional components of local rosé. So this is vin de France, but done under Southern Rhône guidance crafted for the proper flavors. Good stuff, price is controlled by allowing for some wiggle room in appellation confinement.
La Vieille Ferme also makes wines from two appellations: Luberon and Mount Ventoux. They also make a red wine labeled Côtes du Rhône Villages. So what does that mean? Let’s spend a moment understanding the local classification system:
Côtes du Rhône AOP: A broad classification, covering a variety of areas, soils and vineyards. Covers 71 communes in six departments. Lots of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Red, white and rosé wines.
Côtes du Rhône Villages: More specific classification for wines made in an designated area spread over 95 communes. Recognized by specific qualities of their vineyard area, 18 of these can be indicated on the label.
Côtes du Rhône Crus: There are eight of these in the Northern Rhône and eight in the Southern Rhône, particular areas designated as Cru because of features and characterists of the vineyards, with very distinct soil qualities. These are names such as Gigondas and Tavel…wines that stand on their own title.
Wine Pairing Weekend
This month our Wine Pairing Weekend group is covering our Old Standby, the wine that we turn to time and again. Join us for a twitter chat this morning, Saturday, April 8th at 10:00 am central under the hashtag #WinePW. We’ve got the following writers and bloggers sharing their stories of the wine you’ll find at their house:
15 Years, 3 Kids, 5 Houses and 1 Wine that’s seen it all. by L’Occasion
Azaleas, Rosé and Pizza: A Few of My Favorite Things by Pull That Cork
Crispy Bacon Cheddar Burgers with Rivallana Rioja Crianza by Palatable Pastime
Go-To Chardonnays (and recipes for pairing) by Grape Experiences
My Go-To Wine for Curry by Cooking Chat Food
Need a Go-To Wine? Go to Beaujolais! by The Swirling Dervish
Old Vine Zin is an Old Fave by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Pan Seared Rosemary Garlic Strip Steaks with Bogle Petite Syrah by A Day in the Life on the Farm. Thank you for hosting this week!
Standards: Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel for an easy midweek meal by Wine Predator
You Come Home, You Need Wine. What are you Grabbing To Make It Fine? by Lori’s Culinary Creations