A Legacy of Versatility: Pairing Provençal Rosé Wines with Diverse Local Flavors, pt. 1

Chef Levon Wallace of Gray & Dudley in Nashville, Tennessee

by: Lisa M. Airey

Photos by: Acacia Evans

To celebrate and display the diversity of the rosé from Provence, The Clever Root challenged four superstar chefs from across the country to develop signature dishes to pair with these pink sippers. From Cajun cooking in New Orleans, to celebrating the bounty of the Pacific Northwest, these chefs pushed their palates and pairing abilities to the max.

We will be sharing these incredible recipes with you all month, and our first stop brings us to Gray & Dudley in the Music City, Nashville, Tennessee, where Executive Chef Levon Wallace created succulent, summer squash gratin with lemon hollandaise served with Château Sainte Rosaline Perle Rosé, roasted drum with summer vegetable ratatouille and rice grits served with estandon vignerons lumière rosé, and thin-cut pork chops with stone fruit, arugula, peppers and parsley sauce served with maison saint aix aix rosé. 

The world has finally caught on to the rosé craze, but Provence has been perfecting pink for more than 2,600 years. A drink culture that treasured rosé prevailed in France well into the 19th century, but Provence is the only wine region in the entire world to focus primarily on the production of dry rosé in a nod to its history.

Due to the variations in the region’s appellations, many styles of rosé call Provence home. Côtes de Provence, the region’s largest appellation, covers approximately 50,000 acres; soils are not uniform, and the climate varies too. The appellation of Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence has the distinction of a remarkable landscape and dramatic climate. With 3,000 hours of sunlight a year and an aggressive wind, called the Mistral. The vineyards of Coteaux Varois en Provence are sheltered from the fierce aforementioned Mistral wind by hills and mountains. The appellation enjoys a climate with more continental influences. Vines grow at an average elevation of 1,200 feet, which results in a slower maturation of the grapes, delivering very structured wines with good phenolic development and a powerhouse of spiced fruit.

Levon Wallace, Executive Chef of Gray & Dudley in Nashville, TN.

“One of the most enjoyable aspects of rosé is its color palette,” says Levon Wallace, Executive Chef of Gray & Dudley in Nashville, Tennessee. “The nectarine, glorious salmons, rose golds . . . it’s both romantic and hypnotizing. I can drink rosé all day. But when I tasted the Provence rosé I said . . . ‘What is going on with that wine?’” The answer is, a lot. Provence rosé is traditionally made by picking and pressing whole clusters of grapes—a technique known as direct press. From start to finish, this takes roughly four hours and results in minimal skin contact, pale pigmentation and explosive aromatics. Direct press creates a tight core of acidity/minerality in the wines, but little by way of tannic grip and no residual sugar. Provence rosé is pure chiseled fruit. “The Provence rosés were asking for fat and salt to counterbalance their fruit,” adds Chef Wallace. “And these ingredients actually coaxed even more flavor out of the wines. Although the dishes we chose to pair with these wines vary in intensity . . . squash, drum and pork, there is a running theme. There is heft in the food, and the wines provide a nice cleansing, grounding foil.” “Rosé all day!” states Shane Batchelor with fervor. As Food and Beverage Manager for Gray & Dudley, he has put together an adventurous wine list that does more than look good on paper. “Rosé gives you the best of both worlds,” he adds. “There is perfume and refreshment on the ‘white’ side of things, yet rosé holds up to food and can be enjoyed with a meal just like a red wine.” “We chose three wines to match three dishes: Perle de Roseline from Côtes de Provence to pair with our summer squash gratin with lemon hollandaise, Estandon Vignerons Lumière rosé from Coteaux Varois en Provence to accompany our roasted drum with ratatouille and rice grits, and Maison Saint Aix AIX rosé from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence to complement our pork chops with stone fruit,” says Chef Wallace. “But, Provence rosés can be enjoyed without food.” “It is crushable,” adds Batchelor. “Something you can drink in hot weather and still take to table.”



Summer Squash Gratin with Lemon Hollandaise Served With Château Sainte Rosaline Perle Rosé
Created by Executive Chef Levon Wallace, Gray & Dudley, Nashville, TN

4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 lbs. summer squash, sliced ¼-inch thickness
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
Kosher salt and pepper
Freshly-grated nutmeg
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 dashes Tabasco hot sauce
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup warm clarified butter

To make the Hollandaise, warm clarified butter in a small sauce pot. Keep warm. Combine yolks, lemon juice, hot sauce and salt in blender. Puree on high for 1 minute. With blender still running, slowly (and carefully) drizzle clarified butter until mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with butter. Starting with squash, arrange alternate layers of squash, cream, cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Top with lemon hollandaise. Serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.


Roasted Drum with Summer Vegetable Ratatouille and Rice Grits Served With Estandon Vignerons Lumière Rosé
Created by Executive Chef Levon Wallace, Gray & Dudley, Nashville, TN

Rice grits:
2 cups water
1 cup milk
1 cup rice grits (if you cannot find rice grits, buzz your rice in a food processor for 1 minute; fragrant varieties such as jasmine or basmati work best)
1 bay leaf
4 Tbsp. softened butter
Bring liquids to a simmer and whisk in rice grits and bay leaf. Continue to whisk for 2 minutes; reduce heat to a low simmer until grits are tender. Stir in butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tomato/herb purée:
4 garlic cloves
2 anchovy filets
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped oregano
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 cup tomato purée

¼ cup olive oil
1 lb. assorted summer squash (zephyr, patty pan, gold bar) sliced ½-inch thick
1 lb. Japanese eggplant, sliced ½-inch thick
Tomato herb purée (from above)
¼ cup basil leaves, torn
1 pint cherry tomatoes

Pre-heat broiler on high. Place a large, oven-safe skillet on medium-high heat and heat olive oil until almost smoking. Add squash and eggplant and sauté until lightly browned. Add tomato purée and stir to coat. Cover mixture with cherry tomatoes and place in broiler for 3–4 minutes or until tomatoes are lightly charred. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and add basil leaves just before serving.

Roasted Drum:
4 6-oz. fish filets (in this case Drum, but whatever is freshest and most sustainable for your area is most important)
4 Tbsp. softened unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

Place fish filets in an oven-safe dish, like a cookie sheet. Brush with butter and season well with salt and pepper. Broil on high for 5–8 minutes or until medium. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon grits onto plate, top with broiled fish and top with ratatouille and a drizzle of olive oil. Serves 4.


Thin-Cut Pork Chops with Stone Fruit, Arugula, Peppers and Parsley Sauce Served With Maison Saint Aix AIX Rosé
Created by Executive Chef Levon Wallace, Gray & Dudley, Nashville, TN

8 4-oz. thin-cut, bone-in pork chops
Kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
3 cups baby arugula
1 cup sliced stone fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines, etc.)
¼ cup sliced sweet peppers (such as lipstick or nardello)
4 Tbsp. peppery olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup shaved parmesan curls

Parsley sauce:
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Juice of one lemon
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
½ cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse 10–12 times until smooth. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork chops liberally with salt and pepper. Add butter until fragrant and nutty then sear pork chops about 2 minutes per side. Allow to rest 2 minutes before serving.

In a mixing bowl, combine stone fruit, peppers, arugula, olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place two pork chops on a plate and top with stone fruit and arugula mix and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley sauce. Serves 4.


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