It just wouldn’t be Rosé Month without Paul Chevalier. And by that I mean it literally wouldn’t be! It’s quite possible that without Paul’s efforts over the past decade, none of us would have ever heard of a little rosé named Whispering Angel, the pink juggernaut that rocked the wine world and essentially become the poster-wine for the #RoseRevolution.
As National Fine Wine Director for Shaw-Ross Imports, Paul’s collaboration with Sacha Lichine, son of Bordeaux legend Alexis Lichine and owner of Chateau D’Esclans, launched this brand and rosé in general into the stratosphere of popularity and changed how rosé wine was viewed around the world.
In our timely interview, Paul explains first and foremost what makes Provencal rosé so unique. He also shares his thoughts on the rise of rosé over the past ten years and speculates as to where it’s headed in the future. He also shares exciting information on Chateau D’Esclans’ latest project which involves a partnership with the glamorous Fontainebleau Hotel in South Beach.
I’m so excited for you to hear my interview with Paul Chevalier so please kick back, pour yourself a glass of something Provencal and pink, and press play for all the details!
RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
1.) Our amazing visit to Chateau D’Esclans in Provence.
2.) “The Truth About Rosé” – my Fox News article with more on the Chateau D’Esclans story.
3.) “Wines of the Week” on Facebook LIVE: “The Rosés of Provence”
4.) A glamorous Chateau D’Esclans Rosé Brunch Hosted by Martha Stewart and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the South Beach Wine + Food Festival.
As I swirled the hot pan, the generous knob of butter sizzled and skated across its surface. Just before it browned, I ladled in two beaten eggs which sizzled and spat as they hit the butter.
According to Julia, my timing was spot on.
“You should hear the eggs sizzle as they hit the pan,” her distinctive, melodious voice instructed in the vintage French Chef video. Seconds later, after vigorously shaking the pan to fold the mixture over, the omelette was done.
“Then flip the pan upside down and onto the plate.” As I turned my omelette out onto the green ceramic plate that looked suspiciously similar to those in her iconic TV series, a sense of wonderment washed over me.
Here I was in the South of France, in Julia Child’s former kitchen learning her favorite way to make an omelette. For a life long foodie, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Our culinary mecca had taken us across the pond to La Pitchoune, Julia and Paul Child’s home in the South of France where they spent many a blissful Summer sipping rosé and cooking “à la Provençale.”
They built the modest home, complete with stucco walls and a red tiled roof, in 1964 on the property of Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking co-author and dear friend, Simone Beck. The handshake deal between the friends specified that once the Childs were done using it, the home would revert back to Beck’s husband’s family.
The Childs decided to call their home La Pitchoune, or “The Little Thing” (also affectionately called “La Peetch”) and it was a dream come true for both of them. Standing there in that hallowed kitchen, I certainly shared their sentiment.
While used for cooking classes over the years, La Pitchoune is currently under new ownership and home to The Courageous Cooking School where we were enrolled in its first official, week-long cooking retreat. The six of us students resided at La Peetch during that time (the house has three bedrooms, all with en suite bathrooms) and all of our cooking classes took place in its wonderful kitchen, still adorned with outlined pegboards, an array of copper pots and pans and other reminders of its past.
Our fearless leader for the week was the property’s new owner and founder of The Courageous Cooking School, Makenna Held. A statuesque six feet tall, Held has a lot more in common with Child than just her height. Like Child, she is also an American-born Francophile and Smith alumna with a passion for the culinary arts and a dynamic drive.
Held did a remarkable job planning and executing our week long curriculum despite a few minor curve balls, including the unexpected, holiday weekend closure of the local épicerie and boulangerie which provides the ingredients for our cooking classes. Well accustomed to the nuances of life in rural France, Held made the experience feel more like an adventure than an inconvenience.
Held greeted us on a sunny, Sunday afternoon as we arrived at La Peetch. With a glass of Champagne in hand, we all toured the beautiful property and got acquainted with our classmates for the week, a fabulous group of Canadian gals.
When finished, we eagerly feasted on a mouthwatering meal including succulent, freshly shucked oysters; a trio of French cheeses; a divine charcuterie board featuring prosciutto, saucisson, French pepperoni, cornichons and tangy Dijon mustard; a duo of savory tapenades served with bright green, crunchy endive leaves; plump green and black olives marinated in olive oil and herbs; a delightful mixed green salad, and a loaf of crusty, country bread with oodles of heavenly French butter.
We washed the deliciousness down with a seemingly endless supply of Champagne and rosé. Needless to say, La Pitchoune had a certain je ne sais quoi that made The Miskews feel right at home!
Our cooking classes began bright and early each morning around 8:30am. In between our classes, we were treated to yoga classes, field trips to local purveyors and winemakers and, on our last full day, a fabulous, multi-course lunch at a local Michelin 2-star restaurant.
Day one began with the mastery of the aforementioned omelette which turned out deliciously well, although not the most perfect thing I’ve ever made.
But that’s what Julia was all about, after all – NO apologies, NO excuses!
And when finished with some additional butter and a generous sprinkle of chopped thyme, marjoram and parsley plucked straight from La Peetch’s garden, it was so delicious it didn’t matter that it didn’t look perfect.
Our omelette lesson was followed by a lesson on knife skills taught by our two resident Chefs for the week, Dominie and Sandrine. We each took turns thinly slicing potatoes and layering them in a deep baking dish, seasoning generously between each layer with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The layered potatoes were then drenched in a fragrant, garlic-infused cream before being baked in the oven until golden brown and bubbly. The end result? Heavenly Potatoes Dauphinoise!
Next, we tackled a duo of tartares: salmon and steak to be exact. We continued to hone our knife skills by chopping each protein into small, lustrous cubes, although, that’s essentially where the instruction ended.
You see, The Courageous Cooking School doesn’t focus on individual recipes per se. Rather, it promotes the mastery of techniques which can have many useful applications, as well as learning to trust your own taste.
The ingredients for both the salmon and steak tartares were set out for us to experiment with and guidance was readily available from our resident Chefs. In addition to knife skills, this exercise focused on layering flavors and textures and learning how they synergize with one another.
In the end, we each had a slightly different, yet delicious incarnation of these classic dishes which represented our own unique, individual styles. As someone who didn’t like salmon prior to the trip, I was pretty much hooked after this class! I’ve already made our version of Salmon Tartare twice since we’ve been home (please see recipe below!).
A mid-afternoon yoga session was the perfect remedy for our weary, jet-lagged bodies after a long morning in the kitchen. Held, who’s also a certified yoga instructor, led us on a 30 minute, non-intimidating session focused on relaxation, stretching and breathing. With my pre-existing orthopedic conditions, I was reluctant to participate but ultimately, VERY glad I did. It left me relaxed and back spasm free for the rest of the day!
And what better way to end one’s day than with a trip to the local confiserie (aka candy shop)? The beautiful drive through the back country of Grasse to the small town of Gorges du Loup where the confiserie was located was a welcomed chance to bask in the sheer beauty of the day. The brilliant sun, verdant scenery and heavenly temperatures were true sensory ambrosia.
Located at the foot of a towering viaduct along the banks of a roaring river, Confiserie Florian was nothing short of enchanting. Founded in 1949, the confectionery welcomed us with charming, creamsicle colored walls and intricate wrought iron gates. The interior was also elegantly decorated with 17th and 18th century French antiques and beautifully patina-ed candy making equipment.
As the perfume capital of the world, Grasse is home to many fabulous fruits and flowers such as violets, roses, lemon verbena and clementines. Confiserie Florian transforms this bucolic bounty into its signature candied clementines, floral and fruit jams, as well as crystallized verbena leaves, violets and rose petals.
Our guided tour led us through the traditional, time intensive processes used to make many of these specialties. Our wonderful tour guide also allowed us to sample some of their offerings including the citrusy, minty crystallized verbena leaves; sweet, perfumey candied violets; and lightly sugared, fruit flavored bon bons.
That night back at La Pitchoune we happily enjoyed the fruits of the day’s cooking classes as our dinner before falling into bed with visions of candied clementines dancing in our heads.
Stay tuned for Postcards from La Pitchoune: Day 2!
The post Postcards from La Pitchoune: Day 1 of The Courageous Cooking School appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
With rosé season upon us, I thought it appropriate to feature the word saignée as our latest Wine Word of the Week. This French term, which literally means “to bleed,” refers to bleeding off juice during the early stages of red wine fermentation. This is done primarily for two reasons: (1) to concentrate the aromas and flavors of the finished... Read More
In the last installment of Glamorous Getaways featuring the L’Auberge Carmel hotel, I promised details of the “Provence to Carmel” dinner held in honor of Relais & Chateaux’s 60th Anniversary and I’m back to keep my promise! This special dinner featured the delightful duo of Aubergine Chef de Cuisine Justin Cogley (pictured, above right) and Chef Jacques Chibois (above left) of Relais & Chateaux’s La Bastide Saint Antoine... Read More
The post Relais & Chateaux Celebrates 60 Years with “Provence to Carmel” Truffle Dinner at Aubergine appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
One of my favorite food and wine pairings during the Summer months is a Tuna Niçoise Salad paired with a dry, Provençal rosé – sheer deliciousness! But why limit the wonderful Niçoise flavors to just one dish? When a friend kindly offered us some fresh swordfish steaks over the weekend, these delicious flavors immediately sprang to mind as we happily accepted his generous offer. Niçoise (pronounced nee-SWAZ) essentially means “in... Read More
The post Perfect Pairings: Swordfish Niçoise & a Provençal Rosé! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
I hope your Fourth of July festivities were nothing short of fabulous and that your month is off to a great start! I hope you enjoyed exploring our wine recommendations for the holiday weekend and it is with distinct pleasure I present to you our latest Wines of the Week, the rosés of Château D’Esclans. Provence is widely considered the birthplace... Read More
The post Wines of the Week: The Provençal Rosés of Château D’Esclans! appeared first on The Glamorous Gourmet.
I hope your Fourth of July festivities were nothing short of fabulous and that your month is off to a great start! I hope you enjoyed exploring our wine recommendations for the holiday weekend and it is with distinct pleasure I present to you our latest Wines of the Week, the rosés of Château D’Esclans.
Before I introduce this fabulous producer from the South of France, a little more on the topic of rosé wine. As a (self-appointed) Ambassador of this most enjoyable vinous genre, I recently included a dry rosé in my monthly wine club shipment and to my surprise, I heard from a few clients asking why I would include a “pink” wine in the monthly shipment. It was then, my fellow wine lovers, I realized my job as rosé Ambassador was not done! Not only are pink wines “acceptable,” but a dry, Provençal-style rosé is the quintessential Summer wine and should have its place in every wine lover’s repertoire. But in case you’re not convinced, let me clarify even further.
Provence is widely considered the birthplace of dry rosé and continues to be the benchmark against which all quality rosé is measured. These wines have a few key distinguishing characteristics, in addition to being (1) pretty affordable they are generally (2) light pink in color with (3) delightful aromas of red berries. On the palate, (4) they are delightfully crisp, refreshing and fruity but this style of rosé has (5) a distinctly dry finish (dry meaning not sweet). Rosé wines are perfect for slaking your thirst on a hot Summer day at the beach or cruising the Cote d’Azur on your mega yacht – depending on how you roll! These wines are not to be confused with the dark pink, cloyingly sweet, pink or “blush” wines you (or I) may have been a fan of in college. The two are stylistically and theoretically very different. As a function of where they’re from, Provençal rosés also seem to have an inherent “Glamour Factor” and are typically consumed in tony resort locations around the world including the Hamptons, Nantucket and, of course, the South of France!
While Provençal rosé is generally considered an affordable, uncomplicated yet enjoyable wine, the rosés of Château D’Esclans are unique in the sense that they offer that experience…and much, much more. The wines of this Château represent a paradigm shift in the way rosé is made and enjoyed, offering four distinctly different wines at four distinctly different price points. It took a unique man with an inspired vision to accomplish this feat. Owner Sacha Lichine (pictured above right), son of Bordeaux legend Alexis Lichine, acquired Château d’Esclans in 2006. His roots had been firmly established in Bordeaux but following his father’s passing and subsequent sale of the family’s fourth growth Bordeaux estate, Château Prieuré Lichine, Sacha decided to make the leap from Bordeaux to rosé, a decision that definitely surprised some. To accomplish his goal of crafting a rosé like no other, Sacha knew he needed a winemaker that had spent his career on the forefront of vinous innovation, a winemaker just like Patrick Léon.
Patrick Léon (pictured above) is a Bordeaux native with an extensive education in Oenology. Even if you’re not familiar with his name, you’re probably familiar with his work. In addition to working with Sacha’s father, Patrick spent the majority of his career as Managing Director for Baron Phillipe de Rothschild. This position required him to oversee technical departments including the company’s vineyards and winemaking facilities for such well-known names as Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux, Opus One in California, Almaviva in Chile, as well as other wines in the company portfolio. Needless to say, Patrick Léon was just the man for the job!
Château D’Esclans is located in the Department of the Var, approximately fifteen miles northwest of the ancient Roman city of Frejus on the Mediterranean coast. The first traces of the chateau’s site date back to Gaullist times during which its location served as a lookout point to spot intruders coming by boat into the Gulf of Frejus. The chateau’s cellar structure or foundation (known today as the oldest in the region) housed an original Chateau that was given by the Comte de Provence to Gérard De Villeneuve, in 1201. The current chateau, inspired by Tuscan Villa design, was built during the mid 19th century. The Château has 108 acres of vineyards while the total property consists of 659 acres. The primary grape grown here is Grenache followed by Vermentino (aka Rolle). Other grapes include Cinsault, Merlot, Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Tibouren. The château is known for its old Grenache vines which produce grapes that offer greater concentration of flavor than younger vines. As the elevation of the vineyards increases, so do the age of the vines and the highest elevated lot consists of 90 year old vines.
We had the opportunity to visit Château D’Esclans on a gloriously sunny day during harvest last September. As you might expect, the property is beautiful and in addition to the vineyards and winemaking facility, features a stately Tuscan Villa surrounded by a rolling green lawn studded with oak trees. As we arrived for our visit the sun was filtering through the canopy of trees while Golden retrievers frolicked in the fountains chasing koi – truly a storybook setting! As we toured the state of the art winemaking facility it was clear harvest was in full swing – the excitement in the air was palpable! Crates of freshly-picked grapes were lining up to be processed while the thrum of the sorting table was like caffeine for the ears. The temperature-controlled facility had all the latest technology including an optical sorter, state of the art lab and oodles of oak barrels for the more expensive cuvées. Achieving the Château’s 1.5 million bottle annual production is no easy feat and since the inaugural 2006 vintage, when total production consisted of 100,000 bottles, Château D’Esclans has certainly come a long way! After the tour we enjoyed a comparative tasting of the Chateau’s 2009, 2011 and 2012 Les Clans and Garrus rosés from Jeroboam (3L bottles). Historically, rosés have been intended for immediate gratification and haven’t really been considered worthy of aging. The Les Clans and Garrus however were crafted with the intention of aging with grace. The 2009 vintage of both wines held up beautifully and while the fruit was not as intense as the younger wines, they had rewarded the wait with more complexity, refinement and depth of flavor. As we wrapped up the tasting we were invited to stay for the Harvest Lunch which we immediately accepted. Needless to say we were pleased to learn Sacha Lichine, Patrick Léon and those bottles of Les Clans and Garrus would be joining us for lunch!
2013 Château D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé ($22): the entry level Château D’Esclans rosé is a blend of grapes grown from some of the most choice land in the surrounding region of La Motte en Provence. It consists primarily of Grenache, Rolle (aka Vermentino), Cinsault, Syrah and Tibouren. Both free run and pressed juices are vinified entirely in stainless steel and bâtonnage, or lees stirring, is performed twice weekly.
This wine is a crystalline pink in color with delicate aromas and flavors of bright citrus and red berries. It is crisp and refreshing on the palate with a snappy, clean finish – delightful!
2013 Château D’Esclans Cotes de Provence Rosé ($40): the second wine in the Château’s portfolio is made from grapes grown in the Château d’Esclans vineyard, consisting primarily of Grenache and Rolle. It is made entirely from free run juice which is partially vinified in demi-muids (600 L barrels) as well as stainless steel with a temperature controlled maceration.
This wine has a pale pink color and mineral-tinged aromas of white peach and red berries. On the palate a creamy texture accompanies pleasant cherry and strawberry flavors with a hint of lavender and spice. This wine most closely approximates a true Provencal rose and is a wonderful accompaniment to food such as charcuterie, salads and shellfish.
2012 Château D’Esclans Les Clans Rosé ($75): This is where the departure from traditional rosé really begins! The grapes for Les Clans are selected from old vines consisting primarily of Grenache and Rolle. This wine is made from 90% free run juice and 10% first slight pressing. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in new and second year demi-muids. Burgundian style bâtonnage occurs twice weekly for ten months to enhance creaminess and complexity.
This wine has fragrant aromas of red berries, white peach and spice and dazzles on the palate with layers of strawberry, cherry, spice and hint of lavender. The lovely complexity accompanies a luxuriously creamy mouthfeel followed by a long, lingering finish. This wine would pair beautifully with everything from rich seafood dishes to roasted chicken!
2012 Château D’Esclans Garrus Rosé ($99): the grapes for Garrus, the jewel in the Château‘s crown, are selected from vines grown from parcels bearing old vines consisting of Grenache and Rolle. This wine is made from 90% free run juice, and the alcoholic fermentation takes place in both new and second year demi-muids. For 10 months Burgundian style bâtonnage occurs twice weekly.
A beautiful rose petal pink color, this wine has heady aromas of raspberry, ginger and herbs. On the palate this full-bodied rosé exhibits flavors of red berries, vanilla and spice framed by tannins and acidity which synergize beautifully as the wine opens up. This wine is dynamic in the glass and very food-friendly with the potential to stand up to dishes with some heft including beef, lamb or other grilled meats.