Jacques Cariot peruses the wine pairings on the truffle menu on a late morning in the Bleu Provence office. “I see my son’s signature here.”
Their 36-year-old son, Clement Cariot, is a certified sommelier and a manager at Bleu Provence. Their 31-year-old son, Kevin Cariot, is a manager there, too. Jacques, who owns and runs the restaurant with his wife and executive chef, Lysielle, takes a moment to review his son’s work before approving of the pairings. “The idea is to do one plus one equals more than two, and at least not minus something,” Jacques says. If they’re not paired correctly, it’s better to separate the wine and food; they fight.
Over the years, Bleu Provence’s food and wines have earned acclaim, including the Grand Award from Wine Spectator.
Jacques estimates about 30 percent of the wine they buy for the retail wine store and restaurant is influenced by customer opinion. “Seventy percent is my hard-headed opinionated mind. … We know what is good.”
They know that by visiting the wineries, learning how the grapes are grown and, of course, tasting the wine.
A glance at the truffle menu pairings:
Appetizer: Foie gras ravioli. Pairing: Clos Sainte-Magdeleine Cassis Blanc.
“Ravioli is very Italian Mediterranean,” he says. “The Cassis Blanc is grown facing the Mediterranean, a little salty with a Provencal flavor, salty of the mist from the Mediterranean. It stays in the same culture, same aroma and same style. And it’s pretty much the same culture. There’s no border with culture.”
Entrée: Pan seared scallops stuffed with truffle. Pairing: Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Premier Cru Montmain 2014 or Domaine Hauvette Rouge Cornaline Les Baux de Provence 2009.
Both of the wines offer brightness to refresh the palette from the richness of the truffle and the mashed potatoes, he said. “They’re going to create different bridges and play different ways, but they’re going to have the same success.”
Dessert: Truffle floating island. Pairing: Sauternes Roumieu-Lacoste.
The sweet wine is a finisher. The grapes are grown in grainy, limestone soil.
Over the years, the restaurant and store has amassed 3,800 different wines, some of which don’t rotate much from storage.
“He doesn’t want to sell it,” Lysielle adds. “He wants to keep it for himself.”
“Other than that,” Jacques grins, “we’re nice people.”