So part two of the Domaine Jones wine pairings concerns the Perle Carignan 2017. A fabulous wine made from 100% Carignan from 100 year old vines. Katie mixes Carignan from two vineyards, one in Tuchan and the other in neighbouring Paziols. Despite the vines advanced years it produces a wine that is vibrantly fresh and full of dark, crunchy red fruits with a hint of pepper and a pleasant herbal finish.
Carignan has traditionally rather a poor reputation, mainly thanks to its ability to produce high yields of rather dilute grapes. It was seen as the workhorse of the region and when I was teaching the WSET Diploma at Plumpton College I remember that a favourite exam question used to be ‘Carignan, can it make fine wine? Discuss’!!!!! And you know what, it can and frequently does! The key is yields, keep them low. Location, ensure that it is on a slope. And age, the older the better, and Carignan vines are some of the oldest vines anywhere.
Katie’s example is simply delicious, and on a hot day I served it on the cooler side around 14 – 15ºC which really brought out the vibrancy of the fruit. The dishes that I served it with were a roasted ratatouille, a lentil salad and merguez sausages. They all worked well but by far the best in my view was the ratatouille, the combination of acidity, sweetness and herbs just ticked all the boxes.
100g red onion
2 large garlic cloves
300g courgettes ( a mix of colours if you can)
200g red pepper
75g green pepper
4 – 6 ripe tomatoes, skinned and seeded
2 large handfuls of fresh herbs to include – rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
plenty of good quality olive oil
Preheat your oven to 175ºC.
Prep the vegetables and roughly dice to (approx) 3cm.
Place the onion, garlic and aubergines in an oven proof dish.
Add some salt and plenty of olive oil and mix well then pop into the oven to slowly roast for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. You may need to add more oil.
Now add the rest of the vegetables, except the tomatoes, more oil if needed, the herbs and season (watch the salt as you have already added it to the aubergines).
After about 40 minutes when the vegetables are beginning to soften, add the tomatoes and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.
Check the seasoning and herbs, adjust to your taste, and remove from the oven to rest.
Ratatouille can be served warm or cold, but it is best not actually piping hot as the flavours tend to be subdued when too hot.
250g Lauragais or Puy Lentils
2 bay leaves
2 large garlic cloves
2 red spring onions
200g lardons (for vegetarians replace with toasted walnuts)
1 handful of chopped parsley, rosemary and orgeano
a handful of cherry tomatoes chopped in half
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 heaped tsp of Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Start by cooking the lentils. Rinse thoroughly and check for stones. Put in a large pan with cold water, salt, one of the garlic cloves (peeled and whole) and the bay leaves.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes then turn off the heat and allow to sit for approximately five more minutes. Be careful not to overcook, you want the lentils to be just al dente. I actually used a mix of Lauragais and black caviar lentils, which looked good on the plate.
Drain. Pick out and discard the garlic and bay leaves. Rinse the lentils thoroughly under cold water.
In a frying pan cook the lardons until crispy. You probably won’t need to add any additional oil as they tend to be quite fatty.
Add the remaining garlic clove (finely chopped) to the pan for the last couple of minutes to just soften, but not brown.
Mix together the ingredients for the dressing, taste and put aside.
In a large salad bowl mix together the lentils, the spring onions, lardons and garlic, tomatoes (if using) and herbs.
Half an hour before serving add the dressing and mix well. Check for seasoning and leave to infuse.
The merguez I confess I bought! Our local farm shop makes delicious merguez with a combination of lamb and beef meat and just a hint of spice which is perfect for a wine pairing. Too much spice * is not a wines friend, which is why the chorizo that I also tried did not work!
*In A Taste of le Sud I explain about wine and spice and how to marry the two, and one of the more popular tastings that I host (especially with British guests!) is a Wine and Spice Tasting – spice dishes from across the globe partnered with Languedoc-Roussillon wines.