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Local Tradition

At Home and In the Winery

by Jane Berg

Local Tradition - Jane Berg
Local Tradition - Jane Berg

Alain Pascal is the first to admit that his winemaking has evolved over the years thanks to a friendship with his neighbor, Kermit. He says that the bottles Kermit has introduced him to have encouraged him to seek finesse and precision in his wines by picking earlier, experimenting with stems, and allowing his grapes to steep gently instead of punching them down. One day, while tasting Alain’s wines together, Kermit turned to him and said rejoicingly, “Ça, c’est du vin!” The 2011 vintage is one of the first wines in which we see this transformation take hold. Standoffish at first, this beastly Bandol may strike you as tough and untamable, but offer it a few deep breaths in a decanter, and its demeanor will soften, exhaling cool notes of eucalyptus and fresh fennel as it cozies up to you.
     Alain, a great chef and host, makes his wines for a crowded tabletop of homemade dishes. For lunch, he might pair his rouge with a pissaladière, whose caramelized onions and briny toppings of anchovies and black olives highlight the dark fruit and bitter licorice sides of this mostly Mourvèdre blend. For dinner, expect a wild, spit-roasted boar cooked until it’s so tender you can tear off hunks of it with your bare hands. Any gamey meat prepared in this spirit would make him proud. On warmer nights, when dining al fresco, he cools down older vintages like this 2011 to accompany whole fish, like a glittery sea bass from the nearby Sanary-sur-Mer market, carefully slit open and lined with herby branches and fronds. Baked with lemons until crisp, firmly textured fish draws attention to the saline side of his wines without feeling too delicate. If wines of place also reflect the character of the person who made them, then this nearly decade-old Bandol speaks volumes about Alain and his native Provence. Listen up, you may even pick up on the warm, Provençal twang in his voice when he says, “Bon app!”—letting you know the man, like the wine, is as local as they come.





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Warnings


Drinking distilled spirits, beer, coolers, wine and other alcoholic beverages may increase cancer risk, and, during pregnancy, can cause birth defects. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/alcohol


Many food and beverage cans have linings containing bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical known to cause harm to the female reproductive system. Jar lids and bottle caps may also contain BPA. You can be exposed to BPA when you consume foods or beverages packaged in these containers. For more information, go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/bpa