The Rhône Valley offers an incredibly broad range of wine styles and flavours ranging from fragrant sparkling wines to complex, savoury and spicy reds. The diversity of selection makes it possible for the wines of the Rhône Valley to pair with almost any menu. Six of Canada’s best sommeliers have recommended dishes that reflect the culture and food of their region matched with wines from the Rhône Valley. This year when planning a meal be sure to ‘bring home a Rhône.’
Appellation: Crémant de Die and Saint-Péray
Recipe: East Coast, West Coast Oysters
The Sommelier: Mark DeWolf, National President Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers
About the Pairing: Crémant de Die and the sparkling wines of Saint-Péray are two pre-dinner treats I can always get excited about. These wines, with their white flower-like aromas smell like summer to me. In Nova Scotia, where I live, summertime entertaining equates to evenings with platters of local shellfish. For this pairing I am combining my love of local Nova Scotia oysters with the Asian influence found on Canada’s West Coast.
Oysters with Cucumber Ginger Relish
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup white sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of pickled ginger, minced
1 cucumber, finely chopped
1/8 cup finely minced red onion
12 Sober Island (Nova Scotia) oysters
1/2 cup flour
Egg wash (2 eggs whisked with 1 tablespoon water)
3/4 cup panko
Put the vinegar, water and sugar in a pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to ensure sugar dissolves and remove immediately. Once cool, add garlic, ginger, and red onion. Set aside. Wash the oysters in cool running water and scrub the shell with a soft brush. Shuck the oysters, removing the muscle attaching oyster to shell. Dip oysters in flour, then egg wash and finally panko. Heat oil in deep pot until 375 F. Fry oysters in hot oil until golden brown. To serve top each oyster with a tablespoon of cucumber, ginger relish. Enjoy with a glass of Crémant de Die or sparkling Saint-Péray.
Appellation(s): Luberon & Ventoux
Recipe: Maritime Lobster Rolls
The Sommelier: Lesley Quinn, Best Sommelier of Atlantic Canada, Independent Wine Consultant
About the Pairing: My favourite local dish for the white wines of Luberon and Ventoux is a Prince Edward Island lobster roll done in a toasted hot dog bun smothered in butter. The weight of these wines is perfect for rich buttery lobster but there is a tropical fruit freshness that makes these wines a great match for the celery and dill used to season the lobster meat.
4 cups lobster meat*, chopped
1/4 cup lemon aioli**
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 large hot dog buns, toasted
1/4 fresh dill
Place lobster meat, aioli and celery in a bowl. Mix well. Fill hot dog buns with lobster mixture. Brush buns with melted butter. Top with fresh dill.
* No self-respecting Maritimer would use anything but freshly boiled lobster.
** To make the aioli place 2 cloves minced garlic, pinch salt, 1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard in a bowl. Drop by drop, whisk in 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Be careful not to add the oil too quickly as the aioli won’t emulsify. The aioli should be rich and creamy.
Appellation: Crozes-Hermitage Rouge
Recipe: Roasted Pork
The Sommelier: Pier-Alexis Soulière, Master Sommelier, Best Sommelier of the Americas, Sommelier La Chronique
About the Pairing: This recipe for roast pork and potatoes is an authentic French-Canadian tradition. Sunday roasts are a big part of Québec’s culture, as they are a great occasion to share time with family and loved ones. For this pairing to be perfect you must use the shoulder with bone-in as I think the smooth buttery texture of the meat with a light seasoning pairs perfectly with a Crozes-Hermitage that showcase blue fruit, earthiness and cracked Tellicherry peppercorn notes. Let the quality of the meat do the work but somehow, you’ll also need acidity to cut through the richness. Syrah is your go to here.
Roasted Pork with New Potatoes
5 lb pork shoulder bone-in
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp savory
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
2 cups of water
15 new (or small) potatoes
Preheat your oven at 325 °F. Insert garlic slices randomly in the meat. Mix the mustard and savory and rub over the meat. Season with salt and pepper generously. Roast for 3 hours. After the first hour put the water and potatoes in the roasting pan with the meat. This recipe tastes best when cooked in a Creuset. The smell of this dish as it finishes roasting will fill your house and is a welcoming aroma as guests enter your home. This is truly part of the experience. Finally serve the roast pork with homemade ketchup, marinated beetroot, a simple country loaf and butter. When in season use new potatoes and serve with a Salade à la Crème made with summer lettuces, summer tomatoes, summer scallions, salt and pepper and 35% cream.
Appellation: Côtes du Rhône Villages Visan
Recipe: Ontario Beef Daube
The Sommelier: Sara d'Amato, consultant, feature critic at WineAlign.com
About the Pairing: Relatively cool for the Southern Rhône Valley, the wines of Visan subject to the cooling summer effects of the Mistral as they scale the clay-limestone outcrops of surrounding the village. Aromatically generous, “garrrigue” is a particularly notable aroma in these wines and thus perfect for pairing with a perfumed Provençal stew known as Daube. Often this dish is made with local red wine, thyme as well as a little brandy, but substitute in some Pastis for a lighter effect and use pink peppercorns to make this a heavenly match. To keep the dish Canadian inspired use organic Ontario beef.
Ontario Beef Daube
4 to 6 Servings
1 tbsp olive oil
2 lb stewing beef
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Cotes du Rhone Rouge
2 tbsp brand
2 carrots, peeled, diced
1 bay leaf
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 sprig thyme
Pink peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste
Salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 325 F. Set Dutch oven over medium-heat. Add olive oil. When oil is hot. Dust beef with flour and season with salt and pepper. Sear beef until browned on all sides. Remove beef and set aside. Lower heat to medium-low. Add onion and butter. Sauté until soft. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add red wine and brandy. Use a wooden spoon to scrape bottom of Dutch oven to release browned bits. Add carrots, bay leaf, tomatoes and thyme. Bring to a boil. Cover and place in oven. Roast for 2 hours. Season with salt and freshly ground pink peppercorns.
Appellations: Vacqueyras and Gigondas
Recipe: Bacon Wrapped Bison
The Sommelier: Domer Rafael, Best Sommelier of Manitoba, Food and Beverage Director The Manitoba Club
About the Pairing: To me, Vacqueyras and Gigondas scream late spring in Manitoba. After a long cold winter of drinking heavy tooth stainers and eating rich stews, we transition to foraging morels and consuming more complex wines. With the wines of Vacqueyras and Gigondas I think about a bacon wrapped bison tenderloin grilled to perfection and topped with a rich, herbaceous morel cream sauce. The wines of Gigondas and Vacqueyras are spicy, earthy, and display beautiful baked red fruit. They are a perfect weight for this dish. Big enough but not too big to overpower the dish. Their live acidity helps cut through the sauce, and the dish’s subtle smokiness enhances the flavours making this a magical pairing.
Bacon Wrapped Bison with Morel Cream Sauce
4 6-ounce bison tenderloin steaks, room temperature
4 pieces bacon, partially cooked
Pinch cracked pepper
1/6 cup butter
1 shallots, minced
8 fresh morel mushrooms, halved lengthwise
1 sprig thyme, leaves removed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/6 cup Parmesan, grated
Wrap tenderloins with partially cooked slices of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. Season steaks with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Melt butter in pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots. Sauté until soft (5 to 6 minutes). Add morels and thyme. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add cream. Raise heat to medium. Reduce until half its volume (about 7 minutes). Whisk in cheese to finish. Season sauce to taste. Serve and enjoy.
Appellation: Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise
Recipe: Grilled Okanagan Peaches
The Sommelier: Matthew Landry, Best Sommelier of British Columbia 2019, Wine Director STable House Bistro
About the Pairing: To pair with Muscat de Beames-de-Venise Vin Doux Naturel I would recommend grilled Okanagan peaches topped Hives for Humanity Honey, candied pine nuts and rosemary. Hives for Humanity is a non-profit organization that supports marginalized communities through urban apiculture.
Grilled Okanagan Peaches
1 stick butter
2 tbsp honey
1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed, finely chopped
6 peaches, halved, pitted
1/2 cup pine nuts
Place butter and honey in a pot set over medium-low heat. Melt. When butter is melted add rosemary and pine nuts. Brush peaches lightly vegetable oil. Place on barbecue set to medium-heat. Grill flesh side down for 4 minutes. Turn peaches over. Brush with melted butter and honey. Grill for another 2 to 3 minutes. Place on peaches on platter. Return pot of butter and honey on stove. Add the pine nuts to the pot. When the pine nuts are golden brown remove pot from heat. Spoon pine nuts over peaches.