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Niçoise salad is a classic dish in France and all around the word. Most French eat this salad during the summer with a glass of wine, relaxing on their patio or terrace. It is a salad that reflects the flavors of the South of France: warmth and generous.
Recipes vary among families and localities, and there are many debates as to which ingredients should be in the salad. Even potatoes, green beans, and tuna, which are classicaly integrated in the salad, have been disputed ingredients, some won't put them in this traditional salad. For my part, I associate a Niçoise salad with these ingredients, but I don't add cucumber, beets or radish. The recipe below was inspired by one found on the Saveur website but I substantially modified it to reflect my views on the salad.
For the Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced;
1 shallot, minced;
1/3 cup olive oil;
2 tbsp of white vinegar;
2 tbsp of Dijon mustard;
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste.
For the Salad: (serves 4-6)
1 lb. small new potatoes, boiled until tender;
12 oz. haricot verts, blanched;
12 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved;
1/2 cup olives;
10 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and drained;
5 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise;
3 (4-oz.) cans high-quality oil-packed tuna, drained.
For the dressing, whisk the garlic and shallots in the oil and vinegar. Add the mustard and whisk more until the vinaigrette as a creamy texture. Add salt and pepper; as needed. For the salad: arrange all ingredients in a big salad bowl. Drizzle the dressing over all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper just before serving.
Niçoise salad is a wonderful dish to pair wines with. Because of the richness of the salad with the potatoes and anchovies, think of wines with character and complex bouquets. Red wines should have some notes of umami, earth or spice. Skin contact wines, Pet Nats and Island wines will be great too. My wine was Les Capriades 2016 Piège à Filles Rosé Pet Nat. The bright minerality, extended lees time, subtle fruit and pretty savory notes of the wine combined with the anchovies and olives on the salad made a perfect match. A great formula for the summer!
Below is a list of delicious wines that will be great companions to this Niçoise salad. I hope you will enjoy these pairings as much as I have. Caroline Coursant
A treat for lovers of Castellroig Cava, the Rosat is a refreshing rose Cava made from organically farmed Garnacha and Trepat grapes, fermented with native yeasts, and aged a minimum of 15 months on the lees before disgorgement. A lovely, rosy watermelon hue, dry and frothy, with deep and delicious flavors of raspberry, cranberry, orange rind, seas salt, and Mediterranean herbs. This rosat is always cold in our fridge at home, ready for smoked salmon brunch, a sardine snack, and fish from the grill. Ariana Rolich
Alvar de Dios Vagüera is a blend of Verdejo, Godello, Palomino, and Albillo, coming from a small parcel of 100-year-old vines, at about 950 meters of altitude on clay soils in El Maderal. Fermented whole-cluster with native yeast in old barrels, the wine is then aged on lees for 12 months without fining or filtering. On the nose, the bouquet is fresh and vibrant with tart citrus, white peach, white flowers, almond and saline notes. On the palate, the wine is crisp with bright acidity and a delicious creaminess that reveals on the mid-palate. A pretty special wine! Pair this wine with grilled fish, vegetarian fare, and light but flavorful meat such as duck and goose. Caroline Coursant
Vimbio, a small winery in O Rosal, the most southern sub-zone of Rías Baixas, has been practicing organic farming since 1985 on their 2.5 hectares of vines. Couple Martín Crusat and Patricia Elola believe in the vineyard's life cycle with animals thriving on the vineyards. No herbicide is used (except for minimal application against mildew). The 2015 Baenis is a 100% Albariño planted on clay, soft rocks, and alluvial boulders. An elegant wine, Baenis is vibrant and crisp with a superb minerality. On the nose, the wine displays notes of creamy citrus, herbs and salt. On the palate, the wine has a beautiful creamy texture with great tension and a pretty finish. Pair this wine with grilled fish, Asian-inspired dishes or fresh salads. Caroline Coursant
Oltretorrente has produced a wonderful Timorasso since they were founded in 2010 by Chiara Penati and Michele Conoscenti. The vines, planted in 1996, are tended organically with biodynamic practices and the grapes are vinified simply: the bunches are pressed whole-cluster and fermented with native yeasts in steel, resting on the lees for 8 months to lend texture and complexity. A touch golden in the glass, the wine shows strong aromas of ripe peach, honey, beeswax, and yellow flowers. The palate has some weight with a smooth texture, plenty of acidity, and rich stone fruit over a chalky mineral backbone. Simultaneously rich and crisp this wine would be a great match for more assertive dishes; try it with asparagus and hollandaise, cured cheese, risotto Milanese, honey-basted chicken, or white pizza. Andy Paynter
Winemaker Tiago Sampaio spent some time in Oregon, working in vineyards and studying oenology. Here, he developed a love for Pinot Noir, and upon his return to Portugal, he planted some Pinot Noir in his high altitude vineyards. This is a Pet Nat (Petillant Naturel aka Methode Ancestrale) from Tiago's Pinot Noir vines. It's a beautiful pale pink color in the glass, not overly aromatic, and delicate on the palate. A welcome addition to our sparkling wine section! P.S. Uivo Pet Nat Rose was recently featured in the New York Times 20 under 20! EL
This well-known family estate produces excellent Tavel from certified organic vineyards and includes Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Clairette, Picpoul, Bourboulenc and Mourvedre! The 2017 Lafond Tavel is a lovely wine - fairly full-bodied as Tavel Rosé tends to be, but with nice freshness and very pretty fruit. The aromas are tart cherry and raspberry with citrus peel, peach and rose. The palate is round and supple with cherry and strawberry fruit, with citrus and mineral notes that linger on the long finish with refreshing acidity. Sip this smooth and delicious rosé by itself or serve with Salade Nicoise and grilled foods. DL
Marcel Richaud is one of the great winemakers of the southern Rhône, an early convert to organic farming and a great champion of natural vinifications with minimal SO2. This is an exciting first for Chambers Street as we've never seen this scrumptious rose in the US before. Made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, its a beautiful, full-bodied wine that will accompany a wide variety of cuisines, even grilled meats this summer. The aromas are complex and pretty showing raspberry, peach and citrus peel with hints of melon and spice. The palate is ripe and supple with creamy wild-strawberry, raspberry, peach skin and citrus - just lovely! The finish is long and refreshing. Serve with a Salade Nicoise, chicken and pork dishes or a burger off the grill. This is highly recommended for those who like some flavor in their rosé! David Lillie
A fresh and pretty entrée into the world of RuBor Viticultores, our good friends Rubén Díaz and Orly Lumbreras, this is 100% Chasselas from two small plots of 70+ year-old vines on decomposed granite soils in Cebreros, the heart of the Sierra de Gredos. With 5-6 days of skin contact, then raised entirely in stainless steel with occasional batonnage, this is a new experience of Chasselas. Dry and minerally, textured and complex, with subtle flavors of crisp apple and pear, dewy green melon, orange pith, beeswax, and sea salt, with a tickle of tannin from time on the skins. An irresistible choice for adventurous apéritifs, poultry, and seafood! Ariana Rolich
Artifice Vidueño 2016 is a blend of local white grapes Marmajuelo, Listán Blanco, Albillo, Gual, and Foraster, from multiple parcels. Vinified in 500 liter French oak barrels and then racked in large foudre and is aged for about 11 months. On the palate, the wine displays a beautiful density and subtle creaminess, with ashy volcanic minerality and lively acidity. CSC
What a beautiful vibrant wine! This wine is a 100% Palomino from vines of various parcels in the Val do Bibei of Ribeira Sacra. Almost fully destemmed with a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are fermented and aged on the lees for 6 months in old barrels, with no fining or filtering, and with some small amount of sulfur added at bottling. The resulting wine is fantastic. Textural with great acidity and minerality, the savory bouquet of herbs, almond, citrus fruit, spice, and earth lingers deliciously in your mouth with a fresh energy. Pair this wine with fried calamari, shrimp scampi, ceviche, roasted chicken and summery salads. Caroline Coursant
Vermentino is one of the only varieties that is widely planted on both Sardinia and the mainland of Italy, though Sardinian examples tend to be more intense and full-bodied. The Vermentino from Cardedu is produced from dry-farmed vineyards, tended without herbicides or pesticides, and fermented with native yeasts, with a few hours of skin contact in steel tanks. It is an intense white wine showing tones of wild mint and rosemary on the nose over orange rind, ripe yellow peaches, and hot sea air. The palate is quite full and dry, with mouthwatering acidity, juicy stone fruit, and a salty finish. This is a Vermentino well suited to fatty fish like sardines, cured cheese, spinach pie, gyro pitas with tzatziki, or herbed chicken. Andy Paynter
Am Berg is back! Younger vines grown on loess soils closer to the village of Feuersbrunn. A fantastic entry-level Grüner, fresh and fruity, but not at all flabby; creamy but with a saline cut; with waves of white flowers, young ginger, lemon zest, mango and apricot. Cari Bernard
This 100% chenin blanc is sourced from Merritt Island in the Sacramento river delta, near Clarksburg. Natural fermentation occurred after six days on the skin, and continued for a month. Broad and inviting on the nose, this wine has fine citrus character that mixes with a broader, more textured elegance on the palate. Lemon curd and a delicate peach character intermix over light tannin from the extended skin contact, though it is softer and prettier than many more deeply hued orange wines. This wine will pair excellently with heavier seafood, like braised scallops, lobster, or monkfish, particularly if a cream sauce is involved. Light sulfur only at bottling. Andrew Farquhar
A curious and fascinating Blanc de Noirs (white from red) of Cabernet Sauvignon.
A curious and fascinating Blanc de Noirs (white from red) of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Viña Bonita is an aptly-named Garnacha from an 80+ year-old hilltop vineyard planted on granite in San Martin de Valdeiglesias. A swirl of heady aromas -- cherry blossoms, sweet berries, and rose -- primes the palate for supple and juicy flavors of sappy strawberry, ripe raspberry and bitter cranberry fruit, flecked with resinous Mediterranean herbs, precise minerality, lift, and length. Marc Isart of Bernabeleva was a founding member of Comando G, along with Dani Landi and Fernando García, and shares their talent for sustaining freshness, even in difficult, dry years like 2015. For fans of Bernabeleva's Camino de Navaherreros, Viña Bonita is a special treat! Ariana Rolich
Siete Fuentes is the village red wine of Suertés del Marques, coming from dozens of small parcels of various altitudes and terroirs in Valle de la Orotava. Mostly from Listàn Negro from vines ranging from 10- to 80-year of age, whole-cluster pressed, and fermented in concrete and stainless steel, the wine is then aged for about 10 months in concrete and neutral oak. This wine is fresh and vibrant, displaying bright savory aromas and complex bouquet of dark berry, herbal, olives, earth, smoke and ashy notes. On the palate, the wine showcases the beautiful volcanic minerality of the island with racy acidity. Pair it with grilled fish, light cheese and salade niçoise! Caroline Coursant
A burst of flamboyant flavors, Tío Uco is an exciting young wine from an exciting young winemaker! A native of southern Toro, Alvar de Dios honed his skills working with Fernando García at Bodegas Marañones (Sierra de Gredos) shuttling back and forth to Toro to farm family vineyards and acquire others. Tío Uco comes from 25 to 40 year-old, organically farmed vines of Tinta de Toro on a variety of terroirs (clay, limestone, sand, and gravel), destemmed and raised in neutral oak barrels. Aromas are exotic, floral and spicy, with bright and juicy flavors of wild rose, plum, stewed strawberry, hibiscus, cloves, sweet leather, and bitter earth. Substantial and spicy, but light on its feet, this is an offbeat and slightly wild foil to standard-issue Tempranillos. Ariana Rolich
This is a very special wine made under the guidance of the highly prestigious Comando G (only 1,300 bottles are produced each year). The grapes, a blend of Caíño, Brancellao, and Souson (about 20-year old vines) planted on granite soils in the D.O. of Ribeiro, are fermented with native yeast and aged for 10 months in old barrels with no filtering or fining. Dark berries, purple and rose florals, Moroccan spice, wild earth and hibiscus notes are prevalent on the nose, while a superb minerality and bright acidity shows off on the palate. The resulting wine is fresh and vibrant with plenty of tension and energy. Pair this wine with dishes such as grilled octopus and chorizo and blackened fish tacos, vegetable lasagna, and manchego cheese. Caroline Coursant
The wines of Sardinia sometimes seem a world apart from the rest of Italy, showcasing a unique stable of indigenous grapes not found on the mainland. One of the most interesting is Monica, a grape that shows much more freshness and lift than most Cannanou or Bovale, while still maintaining real intensity of flavor. Cardedu has produced a lovely Monica from dry-farmed vineyards, tended without herbicides or pesticides, and fermented with native yeasts, in stainless steel. The nose is intense with notes of rhubarb, strawberry, mint, wild sage, spice tones of black pepper, and a whiff of sea air. The palate is light (surprisingly so for its 13.5% abv) with fresh acidity and very little tannin, showing juicy red fruit and the same intense whirl of herbs and spices with a salty finish. "Praja" means “the beach” in the Sardinian dialect and it would be perfect for a beach side cookout. Try it slightly chilled this summer with grilled fish, or better yet fish tacos, lamb burgers, sausages, briney foods like olives or feta, or with salads inflected with green herbs. Andy Paynter
Pitch-perfect weeknight Nero d’Avola: light on its feet, with a vibrant acidity and ripe berry and juicy plum fruits. The bright, playful palate is balanced by just the right hint of dried herbs and spices to underscore any red sauce, pie or pasta. The Rossojbleo is dry farmed from about ten hectares of head-trained bush vines without the use of any chemicals or machines. Gulfi’s commitment to a manual harvest, along with organic practices in the vineyard and vinification using native yeasts, makes for a seriously satisfying young wine. And while this definitely holds up on day two, it’s pretty hard to resist finishing the bottle! Andy Paynter
Lledoner Pelut is a relatively unknown variety, related to Grenache (and known as Garnacha Peluda in Spain). Philippe Wies farms Lledoner Pelut and Grenache Noir in the Catalan hills of France, in a special part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region with soils of decomposed black schist. Philippe finds 2013 to be much like 2017, which was a warm year that didn't require long aging. The wine was ready after 8 months in large Alsatian barrels (Philippe is originally from Alsace) and was then moved to fiberglass tank for one month before bottling. Thanks to a very gentle vertical press (that Philippe built by hand), there is very little extraction here. It's 13.5%, with lovely finesse and a touch of funk. No SO2 added. (On Sale through June 9th Was $18.99) EL
"Gourmandise" is a beautiful Spring cuvée from Patrick Lambert, made from young Cabernet Franc vines grown on sandy gravel soils near the Vienne. The wine shows a bright black/red color with lush high-toned aromas of crushed strawberry and black raspberry, with hints of citrus and pepper. The palate is supple and bright with luscious black raspberry and red currant fruit, quite lush but light-bodied and refreshing, with bright acidity. Serve this lovely wine quite cool with charcuterie and grilled chicken, pork or burgers, it's a perfect light summer red! DL
A blend of Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch, and a touch of Merlot; the Biodynamically-grown grapes are harvested by hand and see only stainless steel, so although the wine is medium in body, it boasts an incredible freshness. The nose is vibrant with notes of cherries and plums, while the palate is bright with juicy blackberries, dark plums, smoke, red apple skin, and red raspberries. Works well with or without a slight chill. Cari Bernard
This biodynamically-grown Blaufränkisch is a year-round favorite. Aromas of exotic spices, ripe raspberries fill the nose, the palate is juicy and medium-bodied, with notes of salted red plums, black raspberries, black tea leaves, with a touch of earthy black pepper. Cari Bernard