For this hearty fall stew you’ll need a nice medium-bodied red wine with robust, chewy flavors that have a strong accents of herbs and fruit.
There is a special area in France’s southern Rhone Valley called Gigondas that we think you absolutely have to try with this dish. Wines from this region are great to have with harvest stews of any kind, no matter if they are heavy with vegetables like Ann Vogel’s “Vegged Out” Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup or a soup with a little game, lamb or beef.
The vineyards of Gigondas lie at the base of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small chain of mountains in France’s Provence region. The vineyards were first planted by the Romans and the name, translated from its Latin roots means “pleasure and enjoyment.” A visit to the region, with its sprawling vineyards connected by tiny Provençal towns filled with cobblestone streets, quaint restaurants and scenic views of the surrounding mountains, easily explains how they came up with this description.
There are many great wines that come from this region of the Southern Rhone Valley, each with their own characteristics tied to the soil and surrounding terroir of where they are grown. The vineyard farmers — many who are following a family history of growing grapes — can taste a grape and pinpoint exactly what vineyard it came from, sometimes even what row.
The various wine regions of the Rhone have specific requirements for what types of grapes can be used. In Gigondas, which became an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in 1971, its robust, chewy reds can’t exceed 80 percent Grenache and must contain a minimum of 15 percent syrah and mourvedre.
The best of the wines from this region can easily be stored away for 10 years or more, and typically need at least three years in the cellar before they’re ready to drink. Also of note, wines from Gigondas are considered a cheaper alternative to those of the nearby Châteauneuf du Pape region, which come with a higher price tag because of their origin.
Gigondas wines include flavors of black cherry, plum licorice and sweet herb aromas. These flavors align well with hearty stews, which are also characteristic of the Provence region.
Since such a small amount is produced, we’ll recommend several producers to look for: Vidal-Fleury, Guigal, or Chateau du Trignon. These likely won’t be available at your local grocer, so look to specialty wine shops to see what treasures you might uncover. Don’t be afraid to ask the wine shop owner if you can’t find what you’re looking for.