Review + Pairing: Terre des Dames La Diva 2018 with Venison and Broccoli Purée

Review + Pairing: Terre des Dames La Diva 2018 with Venison and Broccoli Purée

Languedoc is a fascinating wine region. Located in southwest France, along the Mediterranean, its wine making history dates back to antiquity. In fact, it is the largest wine region in the country – producing nearly three times that of Bordeaux, or more than the whole of Australia – accounting for about a third of all French wine made. Mass production in the 80s and 90s gave Languedoc a bit of a bad rap, but new generations of winemakers are working to change this. It is the region to watch for daring blends, innovative techniques, and a strong commitment to the environment. With this in mind, I am pleased to share my review of Terre des Dames La Diva 2018 and share a perfect pairing that I enjoyed alongside it.

Terre des Dames La Diva 2018 Review

The Wine Maker

Terre des Dames is a relatively new estate with an inspiring story and highly regarded wines. Lidewij Van Wilgen, an advertising executive from Amsterdam, left her life in the Netherlands to pursue her passion for wine in the “new world of French wine”, Languedoc. While renovating the estate, she obtained a diploma in viticulture and oenology. Now, almost two decades later, she is known in France and internationally as one of the ‘Leading Ladies of Languedoc’ and is highly regarded by Jancis Robinson and many other wine critics.

Her passion for wine making goes beyond making high quality products. Certified organic principles are applied to both viticulture and vinification. She also co-founded Les Intrépides, a collective of female winemakers from the Languedoc region, intent on carrying the values of feminine solidarity. 

I was kindly sent a bottle of La Diva 2019. My partner and I liked it so much that we ordered another few bottles (although we mixed up the vintage and got the 2018, which is arguably as lovely). This review will be about the latter.

The Unique Blend

This wine is an interesting blend of Syrah, Grenache… and Alicante Bouschet. While the first two varieties are probably familiar to you (commonly part of Southern Rhône blends like Châteauneuf-du-Pape), Alicante is a rare and unusual grape. It had been carefully bred around the prohibition era to produce grapes with high colour intensity, productivity, and fruitiness. It was somewhat of a saviour during the phylloxera blight due to its hardiness and fast growth. Eventually, it lost favour to other grapes during the later 1900s, but it is definitely not to be dismissed. It offers powerful flavours with a natural complexity. Another cool fact: unlike other red grapes, the pulp is actually red and not white.

The Alicante grapes used in this wine come from a very old goblet-pruned vines, estimated age between 80 and 100 years. The Grenache from their oldest plot (1975), planted on a hill, surrounded by trees and wild scrubland. The grapes are picked first thing in the morning, by hand, and carried in small cartons to the estate. Large volume French oak Burgundy (Meursault) barrels of 500 and 600 L are used for ageing. Why am I saying all this? To help explain how this fruit-forward nectar is concentrated, elegant and supple with a nice complexity all at once.

Anyways, I think by now it is pretty obvious that I am a fan. It’s a nice big wine without being too tannic. Expect powerful notes of blackberry, blueberry, pepper, cinnamon, and chocolate. I also found notes of the local flora: rosemary and garrigues (the woody shrubs that grow in the region) which make it pair very well with bold flavours of game meat.

Pairing Suggestion

Speaking of game meat, this was paired with a slow roasted leg of venison. The venison had bubbled away for hours in my boyfriend’s mom’s secret porto-tomato sauce until the meat melted like butter. The acidity of the sauce brought out the delicate sweetness of the wine while the herbes de Provence highlighted the herbiness. The side was a purée that can convert any broccoli sceptic. Honestly a delightful pairing that I could enjoy again and again.

Overall, Terre des Dames La Diva 2018 is a beautiful wine that I would highly recommend to anyone with a taste for strong wines. It is an interesting addition to any cellar, especially since it can be enjoyed now or even aged for another 10 years. It has that something extra that sets it apart from classic Rhônes (in reference to the blend) or other Languedoc wines.

Bonus: If you are curious about the broccoli purée, here’s the recipe!

Recipe: Really Good Broccoli Purée

INGREDIENTS

1 head of broccoli, florets separated and stem peeled

1 onion, chopped

1 cube low sodium chicken bouillon

2 cups water

A few knobs of butter

1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence

1 tsp garlic powder

Freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Using medium heat, melt a knob of butter in a pot. Add chopped onion and cook under translucent.
  2. Add bouillon cube, water, broccoli, and all the herbs and spices. Bring water to a boil and let the broccoli steam until very soft.
  3. Add all ingredients from the pot to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Return to pot and add remaining butter. Let it heat on low heat and mix well.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

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