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A Summer Pairing: Salade Niçoise + Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2017 #Winophiles

Lynn of Savor the Harvest is hosting the French Winophiles as we turn our eyes towards the white wines of Rousillon. You can read Lynn's invitation here.

It was an opportunity for me to do some digging and reading because Roussillon has long been combined with the Languedoc wine region in my mind, as in the Languedoc-Roussillon. But it can definitely stand on its own! Here are some fun facts to know...

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Roussillon purports to be the oldest home the Grenache varietal in France. And, even more fascinating, is that they cultivate three colors of Grenache: Noir, Blanc, and Gris, producing dry, sweet, red, white, and  rosé wines. The wine I poured is a blend made with Grenache Blanc. More on that down below.

Speaking of long-standing history, vineyards have been cultivated in Roussillon for nearly two millennia. Archaeological finds show that the Phoenicians brought grapes to Roussillon in 624 BC!

Roussillon claims the highest percentage of organic and biodynamic vineyards in France by acreage. In January 2019, the French Winophiles group - with Gwendolyn of Wine Predator at the lead - looked at biodynamic French wines. You can read my post from that event here: Learning about Biodynamic Wines + M.Chapoutier Wines with Some Cross-Cultural Pairings.

Lastly, the region's name is derived from two sources: ruscino and red soil. The former are prehistoric homes, called ruscinos, that were found in Perpignan. The latter is the color of the soil in many vineyards. It's comprised of red clay, schist, and limestone. 'Rousse' is a shade of red in French and 'sillion' means a furrow, a a long narrow trench made in the ground by a plow, especially for planting seeds or for irrigation.

If you are reading this soon enough, feel free to join us for a live Twitter chat on Saturday, July 18th at 8am Pacific time. Follow hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to add that to your tweets so we can see your posts. Otherwise, here's what the group has planned. All of these will be be going live on Friday, July 17th until early Saturday morning... 
In the Glass

I have lost track of how many weeks we've been sheltered in place. Sixteen? Eighteen?!? I don't even know right now. All I know is that I've had to order most of my wines online in recent months. For this event I was able to track down a bottle of Bila-Haut Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2017 at It appears that might have been an easy bottle to find because I think that both Gwendolyn and Linda may have opened the same one. It'll be interesting to compare how we all paired it.

A blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Macabeu, Vermentino and Marsanne, the Côtes du Roussillon Blanc 2017 retails (at for just under $18. Domaine Bila-Haut is owned by Michel Chapoutier and its name refers to an old farm villa situated high on the mountain in some old vines. All 75 hectares of land are farmed with biodynamic techniques though I'm unsure if they hold the Demeter certification or not.

This wine is the quintessential summer sipper. It's light yet vibrant with notes of lemon and honeydew. But it was the underlying briny notes that really sold me on it. That salinity added a welcome complexity to this breezy wine.

On the Plate

With our temperate summer evenings, we eat on the patio often. For this dinner, I knew that I wanted to make a composed salad with all of my favorite components of a Salade Niçoise - hard boiled eggs, anchovies, haricots verts, potatoes, olives, and a mustard vinaigrette. Beyond that, I was definitely winging it. I added in avocado from a local farmer, roasted beets from the farm on which D is working this summer, and some oven-roasted trout that I had from a friend. So this is what resulted...

My boys bemoaned the "hairy fish." There is so many other things from which to choose, just don't grab them.

I served it all with some Ten-Percent Rye Sourdough Boules, olive oil, aged balsamic, and the wine.

Salade Niçoise

  • Salad greens
  • steamed fingerling potatoes, quartered lengthwise
  • steamed green beans
  • olives (I went with green olives instead of the traditional Niçoise)
  • roasted beets, sliced
  • avocado, peeled and sliced
  • hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved 
  • anchovies
  • leftover roasted fish or other protein, if desired
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Mustard Vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar (I used an apple cider vinegar for this batch)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons walnut oil (or you can use 5 Tablespoons olive oil if you don't have any walnut oil)
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mustard Vinaigrette
Whisk the mustard and vinegar together. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Salade Niçoise
Toss your salad greens with as much or as little vinaigrette as you like. Set aside.

On a platter - or two - arrange your potatoes, beans, olives, beets, avocado, eggs, fish, and anchovies however you like.

Serve with salt, pepper, and more vinaigrette for everyone to use as they wish.

That's a wrap for the French Winophiles' white wines of Roussillon event. We'll be back next month with Jill of L'Occasion at the lead. I heard buzzings that we'll be looking at Loire wines, but I'm not sure. Stay tuned.


  1. Bila-haut is a staple wine in our house. Great quality at a great price and you've found a terrific pairing we need to "borrow"!

    1. Yes! Thanks for stopping by. I hope you do try the pairing.

  2. I adore Salad Niçoise and this looks like a delicious version. I went with some anchovies myself. Michael bemoaned them also. I like those "hairy little fish". What a perfect summer pairing!

  3. So summery and inviting! I opened an earlier vintage Bila-Haut consisting of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu. Good value for price.

  4. This looks like such a perfect summer meal. I've been craving nicoise -- you're looks so beautiful and definitely has me inspired!

  5. Hairy fish... love it! lol! Love your presentation and the dish itself. What a lovely summer meal.

  6. I would have to pass on the hairy fish but the salad looks absolutely beautiful and I'll be the pairing was awesome. I think it is interesting how diverse our palates are when tasting the same bottle of wine. I got more straw and hay notes than you and the others.

  7. Very pretty! and since I had a vintage of this wine as well I can imagine how well it went!

  8. I love the California twist with the avocado in the salad. I'd take a little portion of beets, though. They're good for me.

  9. The ruscinos... wouldn't you love to visit an old site in Roussillon and see some of them up close?!? I haven't tried this wine but based on three #winophiles thumb's up, need to find it. Beautiful plating Cam!

  10. The ruscinos... wouldn't you love to visit an old site in Roussillon and see some of them up close?!? I haven't tried this wine but based on three #winophiles thumb's up, need to find it. Beautiful plating Cam!

  11. I so enjoy this line of wines from Chapoutier. Great QOR and they never disappoint.

  12. Now that's exactly what I want for dinner tonight - a beautiful Salade Niçoise. And bring on the hairy fish! Extra points for baking your own French boule.

  13. Salade Nicoise is one of my favorite dishes - and that Bila Haut is a fabulous pairing. Brilliant!


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