Cooking to the Wine: Clos de Trias Ventoux with Bacon-Cheddar-Teriyaki Burgers

Clos de Trias Ventoux with Bacon-Cheddar-Teriyaki Burger. Recipe by Nicole Ruiz Hudson. Photo by Greg Hudson.

Earlier this year I headed up to Napa for the Global Garnacha Summit—a daylong exploration of the many facets of Grenache in the many regions it grows. I must say it was a good reminder of this grape’s full range; from light and fruity to deep and dark. There were a lot of really fun wines, but the Clos de Trias Ventoux 2010 really stood out for it’s QPR (quality to price ratio). It was really tasty,  and when they revealed the price, impressed murmurs rippled through the audience.

A few months later we got the 2012 in at Bay Grape. We poured it at a tasting and it got rave reviews from our guests. I definitely thought it was worth sharing this one.

Although this is a French wine, the winemaker is American. Even Bakke was born in Colorado, and later spent 14 years working in wineries in California. However, when it came to make his own wines, France beckoned. His wife is Champenoise and he loved the French relationship to terroir. They searched for the perfect spot for almost three years before finding their vineyard in Ventoux in the Southern Rhône. 


The 20 hectare vineyard they ultimately purchased has 80+ year old vines, at 300-500 meters above sea level with soils that date back to the Triassic period (starting about 252 million years ago), hence the name. (I wasn’t able to reconfirm it on their site, but I believe the shell on the label alludes to fossilized shells found in the vineyard’s soil.)

They bought the vineyard in 2007 and began converting the vineyard to organic with some biodynamic principles. They completed organic conversion in 2012 and are now certified under the European Organic label. Grapes are handpicked and hand-sorted. Fermentation is spontaneous and the wines are bottled using minimal sulfur. A lot of artisanal care is shown in this winery in a region that is still largely dominated by cooperatives. It’s paid off as they quickly received a lot of acclaim.




Here's an aerial video of the vineyards they shared on You Tube.

You might recognize the name Ventoux if you’re a cycling fan as the Tour de France winds around Mt. Ventoux. It’s a fairly large region in the SE corner of Southern Rhône bordering Provence. The vineyards run along the western and southern sides of the mountain for which it is named. In general, vineyards here enjoy higher altitudes than in other areas of the Southern Rhône.

Like with other wine regions of the Southern Rhône, you’ll find the GSM grapes for the reds of this region. Carignan and Cinsault also join Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre to a lesser extent.

(Quick aside: I shared one of my other favorite finds from the Global Garnacha Summit in Trekking Out with Canned Wines.)

 

THE WINE & PAIRING


Clos de Trias Ventoux with Bacon-Cheddar-Teriyaki Burger. Recipe by Nicole Ruiz Hudson. Photo by Greg Hudson.

I was excited to bring this one home. 

On the day I opened up the Clos de Trias Ventoux 2012 with Greg, the bottle was showing a little earthy funk on the nose, but beneath that there was lots of fruit. (I personally don’t mind a little funk as long as there’s nice fruit to go with it.) There were black cherries, raspberries, sweet plums, a touch of balsamic savoriness,
a bit of stoniness, and a touch of smoke and pepper. On the palate, the fruit was ripe and a little candied like dark maraschino cherries–the good, artisanal kind, not the crappy bright red ones that look and taste like they belong in an industrially made fruit cake.

To tell the truth, Greg wasn’t as excited about this one as I was—the fruit quality was a touch too candied for his taste. Screw him, what does he know?!  . . . TOTALLY just kidding.

I was in the mood for a burger. I knew that much. A big juicy burger, but I’d let the wine dictate the toppings. Since the wine had a combo of sweet and savory notes, we figured it could handle a sauce that had a similar mix. To decide which direction to take things, Greg and I grabbed a BBQ sauce and a teriyaki sauce. The BBQ sauce wasn’t half bad, but we both agreed the teriyaki sauce worked better. Aged cheddar, onions lightly caramelized in balsamic vinegar, and bacon would complete the package. I think a blue cheese would also work quite well, but I had the cheddar on hand.

Since there were so many other big flavors at work here, I kept the seasoning in meat to simple salt and pepper.  Taking a recommendation from Serious Eats, we salted the meat just before cooking. I haven’t done the side by side (although you can see their results), but there is plenty of flavor going on here otherwise so I didn’t miss the extra salt at all, and the burgers were indeed very juicy.

A quarter pound burger seemed a little small, a half pound too big, so 1/3-pound was just right. This leaves you with a slightly awkward 3 burgers per pound, but just double it all if you’re concerned with even numbers. In our case, this left one burger for Greg to have for dinner while I was working the next night. I really don’t think it’s hard to find a home for an extra burger.

I have to admit that the bacon got away from me on this occasion. I was trying to go low and slow to nicely render the fat to use it to cook the burgers afterwards. I got impatient though and cranked up the heat to high. Of course, I ended up charring the bacon a bit. I’m prone to this problem, which is why I usually prefer to cook bacon in the oven. It all worked out, but it’s just a good reminder to try and be patient and pay attention to what you’re doing.

To accompany the burger, I decided on some simply roasted potatoes and zucchini. Altogether, this meal felt like a bistro night at home. The burger was just what I was in the mood for—juicy and just the right amount of messy. The wine worked perfectly. Greg, who had been less enthusiastic about the wine, definitely enjoyed it more with the food. I was already a fan and was a super happy camper. We were both licking our fingers and taking big swigs.

 

THE GEEKY DETAILS


Taken from the tech sheet on the winery's website.

Alcohol Content:  13.5 - 15 Vol % (14% on the bottle)
Grape Varieties:   At least 80% Grenache noir, 5-10% Syrah, 2-6% Cincault, 2-6% Carignan
Average vine age:  46 years
Fermentation:   Approx. 40% fermentation with stems, 60 % destemmed. Maceration around 3 weeks
Finishing:  20-30 % aged in demi-muid
Decanting:  Recommended
Drinking temperature:  16-18 degree
Spontaneous fermentation:  Yes
Handpicking:  Yes
Average Yield per ha:  25 hl/ha
Yearly production:  45,000 bottles
Type of soils:  Argilaceous shell Limestone, quartz sand and marl from ancient Trias

 

MONEY TALK


A search online shows US prices in the range of $17 to $25 and I think this wine delivers a lot of QPR in that price range, making it an Overachiever in my book.

You can currently also find this on Wine.com.



OTHER POSSIBILITIES


I see this wine as a particularly good version of a bistro wine and I think it would go well with a lot of dishes in that camp. Steak-frites, cassoulet, a hearty bean stew –– bring ‘em on! That hint of funk should definitely work with mushrooms as well.

If you’re looking for other wines to pair with this, look for medium to full reds with moderately ripe fruit notes balanced with hints of smoke and earth.



For more pairings for the Rhône, Southern France, and Grenache see these posts:
And here's one for a white Rhône:

 Bacon-Cheddar-Teriyaki Burger. Recipe by Nicole Ruiz Hudson. Photo by Greg Hudson.

Bacon-Cheddar-Teriyaki Burger

Serves 3. Total time for prep and cooking for both this and the veggies that follow was about an hour.

INGREDIENTS

1 very large onion, thinly sliced
Balsamic vinegar, about ¼ cup or as needed
1 lb ground meat
6 slices of bacon
Teriyaki sauce
3 buns
Sharp cheddar cheese, 3 slices or ½ -¾ cup shredded
Salt
Pepper
Cooking oil

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Put the onions in a lightly greased baking dish, toss with a little salt and pepper and generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Place in the oven. Stir occasionally and add additional balsamic or water to deglaze the pan. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly caramelized. Time will depend partly on how sweet and caramelized you’d like your onions. Reserve until ready to use.

(Note: You might end up with more onions than you need for this use. It’s great for a sandwich topping, eggs, or on meat, pork, or chicken. I’d actually recommend cutting up more onions than needed so that you have leftovers to use in lots of different ways.)

3. Mix together the ground meat and season with pepper. Form into meat into 3 patties. (⅓-lb each.) Salt just before cooking.

4. Start the rest of the cooking when the onions have been in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Put the bacon slices in a cold pan and then heat over medium/medium-high heat. Cook bacon until lightly brown and crisp on one side, then flip and cook on second side. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

(Note: I usually prefer cooking bacon in the oven as it cooks evenly and prevents burning–which I am prone to do on the stove top, as noted in the write up above. I decided to prepare it in a pan this time since I wanted to use the rendered fat to cook the burgers. You could certainly still cook the bacon in the oven and reserve a bit of the fat for cooking.)

5. Cook the burger in the rendered bacon fat over medium-high heat until browned and slightly charred on each size, about 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Allow the burgers to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

6. While the burgers finish cooking and resting, place cheese on one half of each bun, then place buns in an oven or toaster oven to warm the buns and melt the cheese.

7. Once all the components are ready, remove the onions from the oven and line up the buns. Place a burger on each bun and top with teriyaki sauce followed up by a heaping spoonful of the caramelized onion and a couple of pieces of bacon. Top the second half of the bun and serve.

 

Oven Roasted Potatoes and Hardy Veggies


Cut up potatoes and veggies (I used zucchini here) into bite sized chunks. Put on greased baking sheet or a large baking dish. Toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in the oven and cook until nicely browned, tossing occasionally. Starting checking at about 20 minutes and pull when everything is browned to a point you like. Serve with the burgers.

If you’re making these to accompany the burgers, throw them in the oven at the same time as the onions.



 Bacon-Cheddar-Teriyaki Burger. Recipe by Nicole Ruiz Hudson. Photo by Greg Hudson.


*****


The rest of the French Winophiles group is also exploring the Southern Rhône this month as well. Be sure to check out their posts as well: 



Other sources used for this post:
Oxford Companion to Wine via Jancis Robinson.com
WineSearcher.com
The World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition

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10 comments

  1. Your burgers look like a great Southern Rhone pairing!

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  2. What a fantastic sounding wine! I will be looking for this. And your burger pairing sounds heavenly. I will be keeping this recipe handy 'cause I feel a burger day coming on!

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  3. Southern Rhone seems to be an area worth spending some time. Love the burger.

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  4. The burger looks superb!! I do agree about bistrot fare pairings!

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  5. Looks like a great pairing Nicole. And I bet this wine would be great at the Thanksgiving table as well!

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    1. Good call, Martin -- I definitely think it would be!

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