Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MRE Menu 19: Sloppy Joe

It scarcely seems fair to name this MRE “Sloppy Joe,” given that the contents of all 24 MREs could easily be called “sloppy.”  Nonetheless, the ground beef in sauce base of the dish lends itself to a red wine of some stature, with those of the southern Rhône being worthy contenders.  These are typically predominantly grenache, with mouvèdre and syrah being common in lesser amounts in the blend, although a host of varieties are authorized.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape is the well-known appellation here, but neighboring Gigondas and Vacqueyras offer a similar style, which is sometimes characterized as more rustic, but at greater value.  The climate achieves a warmth that produces high sugar levels, and thus high alcohol levels, which may be just the thing to help you forget how “sloppy” this MRE happens to be.

In lieu of a white wine for contrast, let’s look to a rosé.  We’ll head south from the Rhône to Provence, which is most well known for its rosé production over whites and reds.  The mix of varieties is similar to its northerly neighbors in the southern Rhône, except that mouvèdre must now comprise the majority of the blend.  It is a warm climate, and the vignerons must watch their grapes closely to ensure they do not become overripe.  In addition to flavors of various red berries, spicy and earthy notes are common.

Complementary Pairing:  Gigondas, Rhône, France
Try:  Domaine La Bouïssiere Gigondas ‘La Font du Tonin’
This is the tête de cuvée for this domaine, made almost entirely of grenache with just a bit of mouvèdre, and grown at their highest sites on the slopes of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  A non-interventionalist approach in the cellar seeks to highlight the fruit with the use of one and two year old barrels, and no fining or filtering.  This wine combines the typical dark fruit, earth, and spice of Gigondas with a bit of finesse from the higher elevation and cooler temperatures.

Contrasting Pairing:  Bandol Rosé, Provence, France
Try:  Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé
[]  This domaine was a pioneer in establishing Bandol as an official appellation, and led the way with replanting mouvèdre in their vineyards.  The blend for the rosé is half mouvèdre, with the balance coming from grenache, cinsault, and a bit of carignan, all grown on clay and limestone soils.