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Help me out of my rut

  • t

Nice little Côtes-du-Rhone, red Burgundies, the occasional Beaujolais for the reds, Mâconnais and Sancerre for the whites. It's a pleasant rut, and one that goes well with the food I tend to cook, but I'm feeling stuck in a rut.

I'd appreciate any suggestions (especially French ones, since that's the selection I have easily available) to go with all the spring vegetables we have in the markets (including leeks and spring onions, hurrah!), oily fishes, eggs, veal, green lentils, garbanzo white and coco beans, and the tail end of oyster and shellfish season; which tends to make up the bulk of my diet. I realize this is a terribly vague request but if anyone has brilliant ideas, I'd love to hear them.

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  1. From the list of wines and foods you enjoy, it sounds like it's time for you to explore the Loire...

    I never tire of the different expressions of soil and wine making through the wines of the Loire valley. And some of the world's greatest wines are within grasp because the pricing reflects demand, not quality.

    8 Replies
    1. re: chefdilettante

      Agree. Just a few to look out for; vouvray (dry and sparkling), savennières, pouilly fumé.

      Also, check out riesling, gewurtraminer and pinot gris from Alsace, aligote from Burgundy and semillion from Bordeaux.

      Last, roses are a refreshing and versatile food wine; I prefer them from France, but Italy and Spain also do a fine job.

      1. re: vinosnob

        Agree on the rose wines. Those are the first ones I thought of when I saw the food list, and of course, I've also never had a bad one from Provence (that could just be extreme luck on my part).

        1. re: Ali

          Yes the Provencal and Spanish styles are much more refreshing. The peachier coloured ones (more Cinsault).

          I find the darker pinker rosés have a weird sweet/acid balance that clashes (Northern Rhone and new world Shiraz Rosé or similar - I think due to the amount of Syrah/Shiraz).

          But that's just me.

        2. re: vinosnob

          Don't forget the Chenin Blanc, as well.

          1. re: ChefJune

            vouvray and savennieres are regions producing wine made from chenin blanc...

        3. re: chefdilettante


          Based on a previous thread ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6077... ) I recently tried some bottles from Thierry & Jean-Marie Puzelat:
          Cheverny Clos du Tue Boeuf Rouge Rouillon ($20)
          Cheverny Close du Tue Boeuf Blanc Brin de Chèvre ($15)
          Pétillant Naturel ($25)

          All highly recommended.
          Lucky you ( I mean, the OP ) being in France, prices much lower ( Euro in the single digit). More details in the link below:


          1. re: RicRios

            Loire is hot right now. Seek the wines of Clos Roche Blanche. They are relatively inexpensive and freaky delicious. The Sauvignon Blanc is like no wine I’ve ever had.

            As already mentioned, Tue Boeuf/Puzelat wines are excellent. I also like the wines of Chaussard and Lemasson.

            1. re: Tabrams

              I didn't realize you were actually *in* France. If so you should try this Bourgeuil (Loire certainly is hot). It's biodynamic too!

              Cuvée Binette Domaine de la Chevalerie:


        4. If you like Sancerre, try Quincy. I had a Domaine Mardon 07 recently and it was really delicious and expressive.

          And I second the other suggestions to try more Loire. For reds go for a Bourgueil, Saumur Champigny or Chinon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: oolah

            Along the lines of Quincy, try just a simple Touraine which can be a great value.

          2. How about Alsace?
            Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Riesling. All on the drier side of the spectrum would pair nicely with the foods you mention, and still have some of the same characteristics (minerality, acidity and tart fruit) that you like in your whites.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Aaron

              Riesling from Alsace so often leaves me disappointed, wishing that I was drinking a halbtrocken German Riesling that I have a tendency to forget about the other alsacian wines, (except when buying sauerkraut). I'll have to remember their lovely Pinot noir and the Gewurztraminer grape too, of course.

            2. Thank you all, that was really the kick in the butt that I needed. I picked up some Chinon, Chinon blanc and Borgeuil at a big-name shop. I think I'm going to enjoy searching out good Borgeuil, as the bottle I had was a pleasant combination of cassis, herbs and green pepper that just hit the spot. Now to find a good supplier, and try out some more of your suggestions.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tmso

                Check out Francois Chidaine's wines from Montlouis and Vouvray. Absolutely amazing.

              2. Two French appellations that are on my list to try are Jurancon and Cote Rotie (specifically the syrah/viognier combination).

                1. When I was stuck in rut, a French rut, I went Italian and discovered, and re-discovered, terrific food-friendly reds from the Piedmont.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RCC

                    This brings up another interesting point. At this point in my life, I am trying to experiment as much as I can. If I ever feel like I am in a rut, I try to find a new wine. The world has thousands of wine grapes. There is absolutely no reason to limit oneself to the same ten grapes as most people seem to do. If I see an unfamiliar offering on a wine list, I am probably going to try it. Why drink a usual white if verdejo is on the list and you haven't had it before? Why drink a usual red if there is a Portugese Dao red blend on the list? (Maybe many of you have tried these, but the idea is to mention grapes that most people haven't tried.) It really kills me to go to a restaurant and see the same old grapes on a list. The world is bigger than ten grapes, and I wish more places would recognize that.

                    1. re: bricap

                      90% of my cellar is comprised of Portuguese Reds and I try to encourage people to seek out these reds from the regions of Dão, Douro, Alentejo, Estremadura, and Ribatejo. One main reason why I advocate these wines is that all of DOC wines are comprised primarily of varietals that are indigenous to Portugal. Secondly, they are extremely affordable and food friendly. Even the regional wines - which cannot have DOC status because they contain non-indigenous varietals such as Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon (even 1% makes this a regional wine and not DOC) are usually stellar.

                      One major misconception is that Portuguese wine and cuisine is just like from neighboring Spain, yet there are certainly more differences than similarities.

                      I really agree with you that the world is bigger than ten grapes, and another problem of Portuguese wines is that the regions and varietals are not easily pronouncable to non-Portuguese speakers.

                      Somebody posted above that the Loire is the next big thing. I hope this is the case as the price point and terroir of these wines are spectacular. Still, it is really hard to find a merchant that carries a good variety of the reds. I guess I will have to go back to some of my favorite places in Tours....

                  2. Ah, so many choices. Many great ones already posted, but herewith a few more from France alone: whites, a zingy Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc, or an Abymes or Seyssel from Savoie, or a crisp Entre-deux-Mers or Bergerac blanc for a lovely sauvignon-semillon blend. For reds, Corbieres or Minervois or a Pic St Loup from the Languedoc. Gaillac, Fitou, Faugeres. A Mas de Gourgonnier from les Baux de Provence. A Corsican red (say, a Patrimonio aoc) built on nielluccio, the island's sangioivese. All for fruit and spice and warmth, and many roses from the same reds.