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Last week I had the pleasure of taking my parents out for a dinner at Lucques Restaurant for their annual Rib Fest, replete with cowboy hats, strewn hay, leather boots (minus the spurs), plaid shirts and lots of ribs—the only thing missing was Robert Earl Keen Jr. or Steve Earle. Number 201 had some sauce on it.

I was thinking about the pairing all day, leaning towards a Zinfandel or something with hulking body and an extra bushel of fruit that would compliment the different variations on ribs—there were beef, lamb, pork ribs aplenty—and the other fare: spicy chicken wings, collard greens, cole slaw, baked beans, grilled cornbread, wonder bread, corn and a watermelon mint salad rounding out the bountiful spread.

When I combed over the menu I gravitated toward Southern Rhône, finding value and unexpected beauty much like seeing that neighbor girl in a different light, having my index finger stop at Domaine du Ferme. I would be lying if I said that I knew that producer, but what did catch my eye was Gigondas—another stellar outcrop of Grenache outside the grips of Chateauneuf-du-Pape—where I could remember an excellent meal and a great bottle when dining at Jar over a year ago. Those bottles stay with you and the memories of the people you ate with last forever (or until, the onset of dementia), needless to say that is one that will last indefinitely.

Gigondas is just south of the Dentelles de Montmirail, and is an area renowned for producing spicy red wines comprised of up to 80% Grenache and then blending different proportions of Syrah, Mourvèdre and an even lesser amount of Carignan into the mix. Gigondas also brings to mind exemplary rosés but those were far from my thoughts when I was playing matchmaker with barbeque.

Domaine du Terme arrived at the table wearing the proud crest of Gigondas, after it was poured; we sat staring at the beautiful and bright coloring in our Spiegelau glassware. The wine had a moderate odor—not quite leaping from the glass—redolent of dried herbs dashed over raspberries, some fresh cracks of pepper and a little pomegranate. The juice was full bodied, with good acidity and a long finish of spiced red fruit, earth and a light echo of cedar and it was no surprise that this wine would be a good fit with barbequed meats.

When it came time for the pair to meet, the Gigondas and California barbeque were perfect for each other like Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya, even the “too hot to handle” chicken wings were quelled by the acidity inherent in the wine. This was one of the best wine pairings I have ever had, much like the Clos la Coutale Malbec with the Louis III burger from Long Beach—divine.

The Rib Round Up was absolutely amazing, raising the bar from last year’s Lucques’ luster (with little room to improve!) and going down as one of my most successful pairings ever. I am growing my knowledge but sometimes I just get lucky and this time I was very happy to be so fortunate.

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