In France, joie de vivre permeates the culture, but nowhere is it more apparent than in the country’s love and appreciation for fine craftsmanship, great food, and a good time. Le Creuset, handcrafted in France since 1925, embodies that tradition by creating colorful cookware with a perfected design and everyday durability to allow food lovers to indulge in the art of cooking. The recent introduction of the curated, sumptuous burgundy hue “Rhône” goes a step further by paying homage to Le Creuset’s French heritage, and like the exceptional wines the valley produces, Le Creuset luxe cookware only improves with age.
Named after the river that emerges from the Alps and runs southward to the Mediterranean Sea, the Rhône Valley is divided by climate into two regions, northern and southern. The varied terroir and myriad of grape varietals of both yield one of the most diverse appellations in the world.
“Wines from northern and southern Rhône are worlds apart in style, characteristics, and sense of place but can easily come together with a plethora of food pairings that will aid you in traveling this ancient region dish by dish,” says VinePair’s Tastings Director Keith Beavers.
Here, Beaver pairs wines from the Rhône Valley with fall dishes from around the globe that are as savory as the new shade itself. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a world of cuisines while also reflecting the deep richness and elevated flavor of the region’s wine: Rhône by Le Creuset.
Wine: Crozes-Hermitage Red
Cookware: Le Creuset Signature Soup Pot
Syrah is king in the northern Rhône, and this particular red gets the royal treatment when blended with a touch of the white Marsanne or Roussanne grape that is also indigenous to the region. The cooler climate lends itself to the wine’s light, red-berry fruit flavors. Its full body, solid acidity, and elegant tannins pair well with the bold, rich flavors of this savory one-pot roast chicken, while the small addition of the blended whites combines nicely with the higher-toned citrus and herbs.
This roasted dish is the definition of celebration food, and the generous size and depth of the Le Creuset Signature Soup Pot can easily cater to a small dinner party. It’s a robust meal that escorts the palate to the Mediterranean with classic Greek spices like rosemary, oregano, and dill and is brightened with zesty slices of lemon. Artichoke hearts, black olives, and cherry tomatoes found in many traditional Greek dishes further elevate what is a divine gastronomical experience.
Wine: Côte Rôtie Red
Cookware: Le Creuset Deep Dutch Oven
Côte Rôtie, or “roasted slope,” is a prestigious red-wine appellation at the tip of northern Rhône named after the steep hillsides (“côtes”) that rise sharply from the Rhône River. This terrain is home to some of the oldest vines in the world that produce some of the most sought-after and expensive wines. This Syrah, which can include up to 20 percent Viognier, has a complex flavor with notes of raspberry, plum, violets, and green olive. Ruby red and highly fragrant, Côte Rôtie easily appeals to Burgundy fans.
Pairing best with full-bodied flavor, Côte Rôtie is an ideal partner for this spicy Italian soup made in the Le Creuset Deep Dutch Oven; the extra tall sides lock in flavor and reduce boilovers. The dish begins with an aromatic blend of Italian sausage, diced vegetables, garlic, sage, and fennel. Hot pepper flakes further invigorate, while the cheese tortellini give weight and roundness to the zesty, tomato-forward flavors. A dose of heavy cream softens the acidity, and a garnish of fresh basil and sharply flavored Pecorino cheese lends a delightful bite.
Wine: Saint-Joseph White
Cookware: Le Creuset Signature Braiser, Olive Branch Collection
In a region dominated by Syrah, Saint-Joseph white – typically a blend of Marsanne and Roussanne – is the second largest appellation in the northern Rhône Valley. Its balanced weight and acidity make it popular among many palates. The dry, full-bodied wine boasts round fruit flavors, touches of floral, and hints of nut and mineral flavors.
The bright Saint-Joseph white complements the strong flavors and intense aroma of this textured Middle Eastern-inspired dish befitting of the Le Creuset Signature Braiser from the Olive Branch Collection. Coconut milk and red curry serve as the creamy foundation for the vegetarian dish, but braised chickpeas and halloumi – a firm and briny sheep and goat milk cheese from Cyprus – make it a hearty main course that you can take from the oven straight to the table. Round out the culinary experience by garnishing with parsley, dill, and a dose of tzatziki, and serve alongside warm naan or pita.
Wine: Condrieu White
Cookware: Le Creuset Sheet Pan
Highly regarded by the Popes of Avignon, Condrieu is the most famous white wine-producing appellate in the northern Rhône Valley. The Viognier grape notoriously grows on vines planted in cobblestone soil, giving it a taste that is vibrant and mineral-driven. Showcasing ripe summer fruits with light honeysuckle or floral accents, the legendary aromatic wine pairs well with all seafood dishes, including richer ones like this robustly flavored roasted salmon.
This dish may look sophisticated, but it doesn’t get easier than placing lightly dressed salmon filets atop fresh fennel and sliced oranges, especially when using the Le Creuset Sheet Pan – the PFOA-free silicone coating allows for easy release and effortless cleanup. A honey chili yogurt sauce enlivened with fresh dill, mint, chives, and lemon juice puts a punctuation mark on this scrumptious no-fuss dinner.
Cookware: Le Creuset Signature Skillet
Gigondas is a rich, Grenache-based blend that yields from the southern Rhône Valley where the Mediterranean climate and red clay alluvial soils characterize the terroir. The addition of Mourvèdre and/or Syrah adds structure and color intensity, resulting in a bold wine with earthy and black fruit flavors. The wine also rates closest to the widely popular Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red.
Gigondas’ savory tones and herbal aromas make it a perfect pairing for a light and toothsome beef stir-fry using the versatile Le Creuset Signature Skillet that’s essential for searing, sauteing, and yes, stir-frying. Here, the combination of salty, sweet, and spicy flavors often found in Asian cooking blend seamlessly, lightly coating a host of colorful crisp vegetables. The incorporation of lemongrass and ginger gives the dish an additional kick of bright floral and earthy flavors.
Wine: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red
Cookware: Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven
France’s first wine appellation, created in the southernmost part of the Rhône Valley in 1936, also happens to be one of the most exclusive. Châteauneuf-du-Pape Red, or “Pope’s New Castle,” pays homage to the time when the seat of the Roman Catholic Church was in Avignon (from 1309 to 1377). Bursting with notes of plum and raspberry, this spicy, full-bodied red pairs well with rich, comforting foods.
Serving this exclusive wine alongside a creamy fettuccine Alfredo elevates an otherwise traditional pasta dish that’s even easier to create with store-bought sauce – and it can be easily assembled in the Le Creuset Round Dutch Oven, an indispensable favorite for almost a century. The addition of a few fresh ingredients like spinach, lemon zest, and lemon juice brings out the sauce’s grassy and floral notes and gives this classic a homemade touch. Finishing the dish off with ground nutmeg and lightly fried sage leaves amplifies its buttery, mellow flavor.
Cookware: Le Creuset Bread Oven
Technically a southern French rosé, Tavel has an identity all its own. Deeper color, greater weight, more structure, and firmer minerality makes Tavel a more serious rosé than others from the region. The blend – largely composed of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre – gained notoriety as a favorite of the Popes of Avignon, kings Philippe Le Bel and Louis XIV, and writers Honoré de Balzac and Ernest Hemingway.
The red wine lover’s rosé can do anything a red wine can do, including pairing it with a spicy triple pepper pizza. The Le Creuset enameled cast iron Bread Oven functions like a pizza stone, creating a crisp, golden crust that tastes as if it came straight from a traditional pizza oven. The puffed-up crust and rich layer of mozzarella serve as the foundation for a bevy of fiery flavors, including pepperoni, green bell pepper, and pickled pepperoncini peppers.
Wine: Hermitage White
Cookware: Le Creuset Fish Baker
Hermitage is the birthplace of the Syrah grape, but its small production of white wines is more than worth a try. It’s primarily made of Marsanne grapes but is sometimes blended with Roussanne. The wine is characterized by its pale golden color, minimal acidity, and dense texture, and its flavor profile exhibits notes of honeysuckle, earthy minerals, and oak.
A dry wine with minimal acidity, Hermitage White pairs well with delicate and flakey baked halibut prepared and served in the Le Creuset Fish Baker; the ridges on the bottom of the stoneware keep the fish elevated for even cooking. The wine also balances out the brightly flavored chimichurri and tangy citrus vinaigrette drizzled on top. Chopped toasted hazelnuts add texture and sweetness with a slightly earthy note.
This article is sponsored by Le Creuset.