I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You can savor delicious wines from Burgundy without the need to triple check your bank account balance this summer. Join me in discovering Domaine Roche des Bancs, a producer who brought the spotlight back to a forgotten wine region in the south of Burgundy called the Brionnais. A place where wine enthusiasts can delight in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, yet also explore the likes of Auxerrois, Gamay, Sauvignon Gris, and Pinot Gris.
Plus, summer is all about simple pleasures that bring maximum enjoyment. Thankfully, I’ve found the ultimate sparkling wine pairing to elevate your summer get-togethers. Have you seen the viral upside down puff pastry appetizer trend? If you’re on social media, I’m guessing that’s a yes. And if you haven’t seen it yet, then you’re in luck because this trend is oh so worth it and definitely here to stay!
The Brionnais – An Undiscovered Gem in Bourgogne
Nestled in the south of one of the wine world’s most revered regions, the village of Semur-en-Brionnais and the surrounding Brionnais region are situated in the Soane-et-Loire department of Burgundy. Although it’s a subregion of the wider Bourgogne, wines from Brionnais cannot be labeled as such due to France’s strict appellation laws. That’s good news for you because you’re getting wines from a similar Burgundian terroir at a fraction of the cost.
The first vineyard sites of this hilly wine region date back thousands of years to Roman times. By the late 1800s, wine production was booming with around 4,000 hectares of vines. However, phylloxera eventually devastated vineyards of the Brionnais. Then came the First World War, followed by the Second, both of which wiped out workforces and destroyed production. Unfortunately, the Brionnais wine industry did not recover. With vineyard sites abandoned, farmers turned to raising France’s prized Charolais cattle instead.
Thankfully, Thierry Hellin of Domain Roche des Bancs, along with his wife Sophie Barcella, recognized the long forgotten winemaking potential of the Brionnais region. Originally from Burgundy and Champagne, they had a clear vision for what could become of the Brionnais. They knew the region’s fossil-rich subsoil composed of limestone marls from the Toarcian period coupled with a similar cool Burgundian climate augmented by higher elevations and well-drained, southeast facing hillsides would produce authentic wines of quality and expressive character.
Domaine Roche des Bancs
Thierry and Sophie took ownership of Domaine Roche des Bancs in 2020 with a mission of crafting exceptional wines which bring people together. The estate was originally founded and owned by former sailor Jean-Claude Berhillot in 1990. Always family-owned, Domaine Roche des Bancs has implemented organic farming since 2011, working in alignment with the abundant biodiversity of the Brionnais wine region. Thierry and Sophie brought with them a passion for sustainable viticulture and continue to cultivate the land with methods that will serve generations to come.
Domaine Roche des Bancs’ commitment to preserving the natural biodiversity of the region means no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are permitted. Instead, the focus lies in developing a diverse and healthy ecosystem in which the vines thrive. The results are evident in the quality of the grapes and the layered complexity of Domaine Roche des Bancs’ vibrant wines. Today, the estate encompasses 8 hectares of vines grown in Mailly, in Fleury-la-Montagne, Iguerande, Oyé and Saint-Julien-de-Jonzy.
Domaine Roche des Bancs L’Effrontée 2020 Sparkling Wine
This traditional method sparkling wine is made from 100% Auxerrois, a grape variety widely grown in Alsace and often mistaken for Pinot Blanc. Brilliant yellow-gold color in the glass with fragrant aromas of honeysuckle, meyer lemon, and almond. Plus, a hint of toasted hazelnuts bursting from the airy mousse of this sparkling wine.
The Sparkling Wine Pairing
These upside down puff pastry tarts with asparagus and shallots are the ideal savory pairing for Domaine Roche des Bancs L’Effrontée 2020. The buttery puff pastry complements the fresh acidity and nutty flavors of the wine. While the vegetal, umami flavors of the asparagus marry well with the citrus, floral, and mineral notes of the sparkling Auxerrois.
Here’s how to make the puff pastry asparagus tarts:
These upside down puff pastry tarts with asparagus and shallots are the ultimate savory appetizer for easy entertaining.
- 1 sheet puff pastry (rectangular; cut into 6 equal smaller rectangles)
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed, cut in half or thirds, blanched)
- 1 egg
- 5-6 tbsp olive oil
- spices to taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, thyme
Blanch your asparagus 3-4 minutes in boiling water, then cool in an ice bath or bowl of cold water.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle 6 small puddles (1 tbsp or less each) of olive oil onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle seasonings into each puddle of olive oil.
Lay pieces of asparagus down on top of the seasoned olive oil. Then layer sliced shallots on top of the asparagus as flatly as possible.
Top with puff pastry pieces, making sure to press down around the edges.
Scramble the egg with a splash of water, then brush each piece of puff pastry with the egg wash.
Bake for around 15 minutes or until the puff pastry has risen and is golden brown.
Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 15-20 minutes before turning over and serving.
Check out this Instagram reel to see how easy it is to prepare these asparagus tarts perfect for summer entertaining.
Other Wine Pairing Recommendations for Asparagus Puff Pastry Appetizer
This upside down puff pastry asparagus appetizer is a mouthwatering wine pairing for other wines, too. Look for those with high acidity and fruit forward or aromatic flavors, perhaps with a hint of minerality. Try pairing this asparagus recipe with Franciacorta, sparkling rosé, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Arneis, or Pelaverga.
Learn more about different styles of wine from around the world in my guide: How to Taste Wine – The Complete Guide to Old vs. New World Wines.
Other Must-Try Domain Roche des Bancs Wines from the Brionnais
Domaine Roche des Bancs Font Grain Pinot Noir
A charming Pinot Noir brimming with cherry cola flavors and notes of tart red cherry and fern. Expect a light-bodied palate with crunch acidity and a fruity finish. A great pairing for grilled vegetables, tomato-based dishes, roasted eggplant, and spicy meats.
Domaine Roche des Bancs Demi-Sec Les Grandes Plantées
Straw yellow with golden reflections. this medium-sweet (17g/L of residual sugar) Auxerrois offers intense aromas of ripe peach, apricot, and quince with hints of rose and mango. The bountiful palate brings richness with a persistent finish ideal for pairing with fried seafood, dumplings, or strong cheeses. Also lovely with fruit-based desserts.
Are you curious to experience the distinctive terroir of the Brionnais region? The organic wines of Domaine Roche des Bancs are the ideal place to start. Learn more about this domain with Paris Wine Girl.