A conversation with acclaimed Chef Robert Connoley about selecting sustainable wines for his zero-food waste restaurant.
New York, NY. – Sustainability has long been a theme for Wines of Provence, with 100% of vineyards set to be certified organic or HVE (High Environmental Value) by 2030. The region has found itself at the forefront of the fight against using chemicals and herbicides in the vineyard as well as preserving the environment and conserving natural resources. This is achieved through local vignerons’ efforts, which go far beyond simple certifications. From pioneering biodynamics to forming strategies around water conservation, Provençal producers continue to find solutions that move the world towards a more sustainable future.
Wines of Provence spoke with Chef Robert Connoley of Bulrush, a zero-food waste restaurant that recently made headlines as one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 50 Restaurants of 2022, to discuss the importance of sustainability in his food and wine ideologies.
At Bulrush, the sustainability initiatives are top-of-line. The team implements numerous ways to avoid food and wine waste, from strategic planning in the kitchen to creating aminos, misos, kombuchas, and more. In the effort to be most sustainable, an essential factor at Bulrush is the focus on where the products that enter the restaurant are sourced, since the team is strict about only putting forth food and wine that match their stringent sustainability values.
When seeking sustainable wine, Connoley advocates for boutique producers investing long- term in their soil and community, meaning anything from exploring the concepts of permaculture to alternative energy and efficiency in transportation. Given these indispensable sustainability requirements, it is no surprise that Provence Wines are a consistent presence on Bulrush’s ever-evolving menu.
Historically, Provençal winemakers have been aware of their fragile environment and the responsibility they must shoulder. The region has adopted new ways to protect its environment, specifically intending to preserve water, maintain the region’s biodiversity, and improve its ecological footprint.
In the viticultural realm, many producers aim to preserve water by utilizing agroforestry practices, mulching, and grassing. Further, some local Provençal producers have gone beyond organic certification and have furthered holistic efforts in the vineyard to encourage biodiversity and maintain a natural ecosystem. For example, bats are brought in to keep vineyard moths and other pests at bay, natural teas are used to strengthen the bond between the vines and the earth, and a mixture of ground cover dwarf clovers have been introduced to reduce water stress in the vineyard.
Wines of Provence in the Food and Wine Pairing Sector
For sustainable, food-friendly wines with a deep, regionally rich history, Connoley reaches for Wines of Provence to serve at Bulrush. “The Midwest is a land of sustainability […] and Provence Rosés allow us to celebrate, knowing these values are represented both on our plates and in our glasses”, Connoley explains. “The historical significance of rosé in Provence assures us that the winemakers have the knowledge and experience to produce consistently great wines.”
Chef Connoley shares one of his favorite zero-waste recipes, to pair with a crisp glass of thirst- quenching Wines of Provence Rosé. Santé!
Bulrush Beet Salad Recipe to Pair with Wines of Provence
6 Medium sized beets 2 Lemons (zest)
1 Cup Lemon juice
1 Stick of Butter
1 Cup Sugar
6 oz Goat Cheese
2 Tablespoons Honey 2 Tablespoons Sugar 2 oz Cream Cheese 1/2 Cup Sour Cream 1 1/2 Cup Cream
1. Roast the beets at 350oF (skin on and wrapped in foil) until tender all the way through, for about 45 minutes. Use a toothpick to poke into the center of the beet to check doneness. When tender, cool the beets to room temperature. Rub the skin off the beet, then use a melon
baller to hollow out the inside of the beet entering from the top (the cut end). Hollow leaving 1⁄4- inch thick walls on the beet.
2. Combine the lemon zest, juice, and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. While the juice mixture is heating, gently whisk the eggs, yolks, and sugar in a mixing bowl. When the juice just starts to simmer, pour 1/3 into the eggs, whisking constantly, then pour the hot egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining juice. Gently whisk nonstop until the mixture thickens. When the first bubbles appear in the saucepan, remove the pan from the heat and pour the lemon curd through a mesh strainer to remove the zest and any egg solids. Cool the curd until chilled.
3. In a double boiler, warm/melt the goat cheese, honey, sugar, and cream cheese until the mixture is soft and smooth. Remove from heat and add the sour cream to the cheese mixture whisking until thoroughly combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the goat cheese mixture into the cream creating a light goat cheese mousse.
4. Spoon 1 Tablespoon of the lemon curd into hollowed beet, followed by the goat cheese filling until the whole cavity is filled. Enjoy immediately with a lightly dressed salad.
About Wines of Provence
Wines of Provence, known in France as the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), is an organization representing over 641 wineries and trade companies from the Provence region. Its mission is to promote and advance the wines of the organization’s 3 appellations, Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence and Coteaux Varois en Provence. Members together produce 96% of Provence’s Appellation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) wines, 166M bottles in 2020 Wines of Provence is the global leader for premium rosé wine, accounting for 38% domestic and 4.2% of global rosé production. The U.S. is Wines of Provence’s first export market, with 34% in volume of its exports last year.
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