I invite you to join me in tasting and enjoying the wines from the South of France, full of the warmth of the sun in which the grapes ripen. All vintages from this area are enjoyable and indeed, wine is the guiding spirit of the region. Join me, round the table and I’ll take you on a relaxed journey from Cahors to Banyuls, relishing a variety of wines and recipes from these sun-blessed areas of France.
South of France Wine Tasting outlook
Olive’s cake & Muscat
Muscat is a Vin Doux Naturel and should be served icy cold with an aperitif such as olives or tapenade. Because it has such a lightness, it also lends itself perfectly to be drunk as a dessert wine divine, for example, with plum pie. In France there is a certification – controlled designation of origin (AOC) which is granted to specific geographical locations for wines, and certain other agricultural products. The area of Herault for example is where you’ll find wines made from the Muscat grape: Muscat de Frontignan, Lunel or Rivesaltes.
Olive Cake is a traditional savoury cake made with olives and gruyere cheese but the recipe is an easily adaptable one – just as delicious utilizing walnuts, blue cheese and goats cheese. I make mine around a cup-cake size, but back home in France they usually make a full sized cake, which is then portioned and shared out.
Navarin d’agneau & Cahors
Malbec is a dark, inky color, purple grape used in making robust red wine in the South West Of France, primarily in the town of Cahors, although it is increasingly being grown successfully elsewhere. Confusingly, the wine is also called Auxerrois or Cot Noir in Cahors whilst known as Malbec in Bordeaux, and Pressac in other places. This black wine is a perfect match for meat, game, strong cheeses and surprisingly, chocolate. As an accompaniment for this robust wine, I have chosen to suggest a Navarin d’Agneau, partly for selfish reasons, because it’s one of my very favorite stews and partly because the UK has such wonderful lamb. This stew is a lovely easy dish to make, incorporating carrots and turnips which perfectly complements the lamb.
Chocolate mousse & Banyuls
Banyuls is a little village in the very South of France, near to Spain. The dessert wine of the same name is very similar to port in the richness of its colour and it slides down your throat, evoking chocolate and black cherries almost like a liquid black forest gateaux! With a lower alcohol content than Port, you can always indulge in a pleasurable second glass, perhaps this time with a slice of Stilton. The Chocolate mousse is a popular and traditional dessert, more or less loved by everyone. I make it with dark chocolate, but you can always use white, milk, or caramel chocolate, whichever way your tastes run!