This month the French Winophiles are looking at women who are working in the French sustainable wine industry. Yes, that's a lot of things rolled into one event! For some clarity, visit host Gwendolyn Alley of Wine Predator and read her invitation.
As I clicked through different articles about French women in the industry and toggled back and forth between online wine vendors, I almost didn't participate. It was easy enough to find the women, but it was much more challenging to find the wines available to ship to me in California. Ugh. Then I re-read her invitation and focused on this part:
Any region, any role, but showcase their work that’s good for the Earth.
All of the posts will be live between Friday, March 17th and Saturday, March 18th. And feel free to jump in our live Twitter chat the morning of the 18th at 8am Pacific. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to add it to anything that you tweet so we can see it. Here's the line-up of articles...
7 Generations of Women providing Grand Vin De Bordeaux by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Letting nature decide: Three women of Alsace and their biodynamic vineyards by My Full Wine Glass
Mas de Libian: The Commonality Between a Muslim Persian Poet, a Game of Boules, and a Wine Warning by Culinary Cam (you're here!)
Women Working Sustainably in Bordeaux + the Greedy Bats of Château Puyanché by Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley
Mas de Libian and the Thibon Family
Located in Saint Marcel d’Ardèche on the western side of the Rhône river, at the very end of the gorge of the Ardèche, Mas de Libian was purchased by the Thibon family in 1670. At the time it was a gentleman's hunting lodge and manor house. Gustave Thibon, who died near the turn of the millennium began working as a farmer when his father was away fighting in World War I. Gustave's third child, Jean-Pierre Thibon completely shifted the focus of the estate to wine. He built a wine cellar in 1970 and expanded it in 1982. He married Jacqueline who left her career as a cardiologist to work in the vines. They have three daughters - Hélène, Catherine, and Cécile - who all chose wine as their path.
Since the beginning, the vines were all farmed organically. Soils were plowed manually, then hoed by hand in the Spring. The vines were treated with copper, sulfur, and other non-chemical interventions. Then, in 2005, the domaine was certified biodynamic.
Hélène and her husband, Alain, joined the family domaine in 1995. Cécile does oenology research at the ISVV (Institute of the Science of the Vine and Wine) in Bordeaux. And, in 2006, Catherine also joined the business She brought with her a workhorse from Franche-Comté named Nestor. Together they plowed the five hectares of vines with a different rhythm than if you were plow by machine. A decade later another horse, Bambi, joined the duo.
Throughout the years the estate has grown to twenty-five hectares of vineyards and eight hectares of what they characterize as nourishing land. It's planted with olive trees, grains, hay, fruits and vegetables. They also keep bees for pollination and honey.
This is an impressive family winery that has been handed down from generation to generation and will, eventually, be handed over to the three Thibon daughters.
The title of my post refers to the three different wines I poured from Mas de Libian. Since there are multiple bottles and multiple pairings, I will share the recipes for the food separately so this post doesn't venture into epic lengths. To visit the recipes, click on recipe names.
Khayyâm. This wine's name is in homage to Omar Khayyâm, a Muslim Persian poet and mathematician from the 11th century. Khayyâm wrote hundreds of quatrains that celebrated wine and women. He celebrated a philosophy of carpe diem.
The wine is a blend of 75% Grenache, 15% Mourvèdre, and 10% Syrah. All are certified organic and biodynamic, grown on round river rocks on red clay, then harvested by hand. They are completely destemmed before being lightly crushed and macerated for just over two weeks. After pressing, the wine is aged for nine months in large oak foudres.
The Grenache in this blend makes the wine is warm and spicy while the Mourvèdre lends a weighty earthiness to the wine. And the Syrah gives the wine even more spice and texture.
To go with the warmth and earthiness of the wine, I paired the Khayyâm with Duck Confit. Recipe coming soon!
Vin de Pétanque 2019
Vin de Pétanque. Are you familiar with Pétanque? It's a French game of boules, very similar to Italian bocce. So, this is a red wine that the makers suggest can be served lightly chilled while playing a summer game of Pétanque. I love that image!
Like the Khayyâm, this is also comprised of 75% Grenache with the remaining 25% a blend of Syrah, Mourvèdre, Counoise, and Vaccarèse. All of the grapes - certified organic and biodynamic - come from vines that are less than 25 years old. The grapes are harvested by hand, completely destemmed, and lightly crushed. They macerate in a tank for less than a week before being pressed and allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation in the tank.
I paired the Vin de Pétanque with a Creole Gumbo.
Cave Vinum 2019
"Cave Vinum." Inspired by the "cave canem" (beware the dog) sign discovered in the ruins of Pompeii, this warns of the wine. I'm not totally sure what about the wine merits a warning, but I love the reference.
Cave Vinum is made from certified organic and biodynamic grapes all harvested by hand. The blend is 40% Viognier, 40% Roussanne, and 20% Clairette. Viognier produces a full-bodied white wine that with rich perfumed aromas of peach and tangerine. Roussanne is usually equally aromatic with notes that lean more floral. And the Clariette lends the wine a more herbaceous layer of fennel.
The result is a white wine with a fresh, crisp flavor, I opted to pour this with a platter of amuse-bouche. 'Amuse-bouche' from the French words amuser - "amuse" - and bouche - "mouth"). An amusing mouthful. One mouthful. Only one bite. Okay, so depending on your bite, some of these are more like two bites! Best of all, most of these can be done ahead of time.
The smoked salmon rosettes are simply smoked salmon sliced about 3/4-inch wide and rolled into a flower shape. I added a dollop of caviar to the center of the flower. Maybe they are more like poppies than roses!
The dried apricots have a small mound of crumbled blue cheese pressed into them. Then I sprinkled them with black pepper. That's it.
Savory Goat Cheese Truffles
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh herbs, washed and dried
Place cream cheese and goat cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Add in lemon zest. Use a hand blender, or just a fork, to combine the cheeses. If the cheese is too soft, you can refrigerate it until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
In a small mixing bowl, stir together the pecans, cranberries, and herbs. Use a scoop or a spoon to portion out the cheese. Roll the cheese in the topping and set on a serving platter. Makes approximately 12 savory truffles.