If you’re into wines that pair well with “more difficult vegetables” or “have a pretty funky nose,” then the Culinary Vegetable Institute’s “Uncorked: Savoring the South of France” event should be right up your alley.

French Wine Taste Test and Interpretations

Of course, sampling the wines is integral to determining food pairings, so the Culinary Vegetable Institute team gathered to sip, swish and spit their way through the selection of whites and reds during a tasting led by Rachel Nasatir of Cutting Edge Selections. As she poured, she shared information about each wine’s respective location, soil, vineyard size, and years in operation.

While carefully taking written notes, Chefs Jamie, Tristan and Dario, along with Wine Steward Liz Studer, shared their individual thoughts and impressions of each wine’s qualities, including taste, body, nose, mouthfeel and potential food and wine pairings.

“It reminds me of the chewiest stretched dried apricot,” Chef Tristan said of a white variety, to which Chef Jamie suggested pairing it with a coriander-crusted carrot. “Your herb flowers would work very well here,” Studer added.

Concerning other selections, comments from the wine-wise were bandied about like beach balls:

  • “I hate olives, but I think they could work here.”
  • “I’m sure apple’s the answer.”
  • “That bottle has done wonderful things to the tannins.”
  • “You don’t want it too cold or it’ll shut down.”
  • “I put two cases of the ‘14 in time out.”
  • “Guinea fowl could be wonderful because it’s such a fatty bird.”

South of France Wine Gets its Due


In the past, serious wine drinkers didn’t much care for wines from the South of France. But, under the care of new generations of modern vintners, the tide is turning, and French wines are finally getting some love.

“2015 all over France was a good vintage,” said Nasatir.

Independent wine importer and guest lecturer Patrick Allen of Patrick Allen Selections will guide guests as they experience hand-crafted wines from six regions in the South of France. The wines have been chosen to inspire Chef Jamie Simpson as he develops an accompanying menu featuring select seasonal vegetables from The Chef’s Garden.

Terroir Makes the Wine

Nasatir also shared photos and information about the regions and terroir of each vineyard and grape variety.

A Cremant de Limoux rosé is grown in a soil comprised of clay, limestone and gravel in a microclimate particularly well suited to whites and sparkling whites. In the tiny hamlet of Barroubio, the soil is infused with limestone, and the white chalky rocks give the ground a convincingly snowed-on appearance. In the town of Cebazan, grapes grow on steep hillsides. Plow horses work the red clay, gravel and sandstone soil of Chateauneuf du Pape. Clay and limestone soil rests above an underground cellar at Verdauger’s Rivesaltes.  Marl (a lime-rich mudstone of clay and silt) and schist (metamorphic rock) comprise the soil at the Magalas vineyard.

Great Expectations

The convened group said they are confident that Culinary Vegetable Institute patrons will appreciate the nuances and unique qualities of each selection. “Our people who come to these dinners have a taste for wine,” Studer said. “Otherwise they wouldn’t come to them.”

Though Nasatir attended the wine taste test to share her expertise, she had some ideas for Chef Jamie, as well. “If you have any of that incredible coralflower you sent me last year around Thanksgiving, that would be wonderful. I’d never come across it before,” she said. “My sister still talks about the vegetables you sent us.”

For a complete list of the French wines being served at the event or to make a reservation visit Uncorked: Savoring the South of France.