Pizza Pairing with Costières de Nîmes

By Lisa Elbert

By

Lisa Elbert
 Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s pastrami pie
Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s pastrami pie

Forget everything you’ve heard. Pizza pairs well with more than Italian juice. At the 11th Annual International Chefs Congress, Sommelier Yannick Benjamin paired wines from Costières de Nîmes with Chef Elizabeth Falkner’s pies, and the power-trio exceeded all expectations. Here’s why you should introduce Southern Rhône wines into your pizza-pairing repertoire.

Costières de Nîmes is the southern-most winemaking region in the Rhône, and receives more than 2,700 hours of sunshine every year, producing wines with assertive flavors, high acid, and complex textures on the palate. According to Benjamin, some of the most versatile, value-driven wines come out of the southern Rhône, and don’t get enough credit. And while these wines are characteristically food friendly, they’re also palate cleansers, and don’t need food to be appreciated. 

Benjamin’s pairings cut through the rich pies, thanks to the sunshine-induced high acidity. One such pairing was Michel Gassier’s Nostre Païs Blanc—a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussane, and Viognier—with Falkner’s Tarte Flambée, which was topped with melted leeks, crème fraîche, thin slices of potato, Gruyère, lardons, and frissé. “Grenache Blanc has a wonderful bouquet, a distinct texture, and is definitely a winemaker’s varietal,” said Benjamin. “It’s a true expression of the grape, so it speaks for itself.” But paired with the pie, Benjamin continued, “there’s an oiliness to the wine to stand up to the cheese, and the green apple on the wine is a distinct acidity that cuts through the fatty bacon. The vibrant acid also plays well with the sourness of the dough, but it also cleanses the palate.” 

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