Which Languedoc Wine with Cassoulet? #Winophiles

French #Winophiles Visit Languedoc-Roussillon
This month, our French #Winophiles group visits the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Where is it? It’s in the south of France, west of Provence, along the coast all the way to the Spanish border. As a wine region, it has long been in the shadow of the Southern Rhone and Provence and only recently has it emerged as the “next big thing” in French wine.  A little more attention brings more sales which allows winegrowers to invest more time, money and effort into their wines.  The cycle continues until the region really is the next big thing. As you might expect, the climate is Mediterranean, with lots of hot, dry days all summer long. You can expect the wines to reflect that warmth.

The Languedoc-Roussillon (image courtesy of

The Languedoc-Roussillon (image courtesy of DalGobboM¿!i? (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons)

The Languedoc-Roussillon region begins at Arles/Nimes, right on the edge of the Southern Rhone and Provence. You might even visit the edge of the Languedoc without even knowing it!

Pont du Gard Aquaduct

We didn’t realize it, but we were in the Languedoc when we picnic’d at the Pont du Gard Aquaduct

Wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon
A wide variety of wines are made in the region.  The reds bear a lot of similarity to the reds of the southern Rhone.  Many are made from the familiar combination of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre as well as many other less known varieties.  The  reds will generally taste of rich, ripe fruit.

The story is quite different for white wines. The Picpoul grape is one of the key varieties here, which produces a zesty, lively acidic white wine, not so much like the Rhone whites. The whites are most often unoaked, to retain that brightly acidic, fresh appeal. You can also find sparkling wines (Cremant de Limoux) and sweet dessert wines (Banyuls).

Interested in a bit more information on the wines of the region? Take a look:

Mas Belles Eaux is a blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre

Mas Belles Eaux is a blend of Syrah, Grenache & Mourvedre

Mas Belles Eaux Languedoc les Coteaux ($20 from Sunfish Cellars)
Eye: Deep red but still barely translucent.  Edge is tending to brick, no longer bluish but not brown.
Nose: Clean nose from the very beginning, abundant fruit. Ripe strawberries and pepper. Just a bit of clean earth in the background
Mouth: Deep red fruit, smooth, refined tannins.
Fruity, this wine would likely be enjoyed by new and old world fans alike. Not oaky at all. Aged in oak, but not obviously so. For me, the acidity was a bit low, but someone who enjoys a “smooth” wine would be very happy.

Picpoul de Pinet - Picpoul means "Lip Stinger"

Picpoul de Pinet – Picpoul means “Lip Stinger”

Chateau Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet 2012 ($12 from Sunfish Cellars)
The grapes at Chateau Petit Roubié are all farmed organically and have been since 1986.  Additionally, they are fined using bentonite, which means they are vegan-friendly as well. Do they taste good? Yes!

Eye: Clear, deepest intense yellow.
Nose: Rich, ripe, waxy, ripe pears,
Mouth: Medium body, not tart but super mouthwatering finish.
This Picpoul de Pinet was a bit different from typical, in that it had a richer, more waxy nose than expected. It wasn’t super tart, but it had an exciting, mouthwatering finish.

A lighter version of Cassoulet

A lighter version of Cassoulet

Cassoulet
Cassoulet is one of the most famous dishes claimed by the Languedoc-Roussillon. A famous slow braised stew of white beans, duck confit and sausage, it’s a stick-to-your ribs kind of meal perfect as the evenings get cool.  I love cassoulet, but all that rich (delicious!) fat in the duck confit and sausage makes it difficult to eat a dinner size portion without extending one’s belt by a notch or three!  At home, we try to find lighter preparations that retain at least some of the spirit of the original.

Today we tried Eating Well’s lighter take on cassoulet. The recipe retains the white beans and pork, and substitutes chicken thighs for the duck and a lower fat alternative for the sausage. Overall, I found the recipe to produce an OK rendition, although I did add some chicken broth later on in the cooking as I thought it was lacking a little something.  Also, I added a dash of white wine vinegar just before serving to brighten the flavors. Overall, not bad and the lighter approach meant I could enjoy a full size bowl without feeling too guilty. A purist would certainly complain, and I would agree, this wasn’t authentic.  It did, however, taste pretty good.

Neither wine was wrong, but one was better

Neither wine was wrong, but one was better

Wine Pairing Results with Cassoulet
The Mas Belle Eaux was a nice enough wine, and it was fine with the cassoulet, but the combination did not improve the impression of either one. The red fruit found little to pair with in the dish.  It was fine, no conflict, but it didn’t shine.

The Chateau Petit Roubié was a different story. It had sufficient body to stand up to the cassoulet, and the mouthwatering finish was so refreshing with the food. It reminded me of a white rhone, but with an extra mouthwatering finish.

Picpoul de Pinet takes the competition!

Picpoul de Pinet takes the competition!

#Winophiles Discussion

Take a look at all the wine and food ideas posted by my fellow French Winophiles. If you see this early enough, come join our live Twitter Chat on Saturday Sept. 19 at  10am CDT  at #Winophiles.

Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs “Anchoïade + Gerard Bertrand Tautavel”

David from Cooking Chat Food pairs “Salmon with Shiitake Mushrooms Sauce and a Languedoc Red Wine”

Michelle from Rockin Red Blog shares “Discover the Patchwork Wines of Languedoc”

Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere pairs “Languedoc Style Olive Tapanade and Côté Mas Wine Pairing”

Wendy from A Day in the Life on a Farm shares “Wine and Cola Braised Beef Shanks with Diamante Des Karantes”

Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva shares “Ribs Languedoc Style with Le p’tit Barriot”

 

October 17th we tour Cote due Rhone, we’d love to have you join us!

winophiles_languedoc_cassoulet 20150913 49

 

Comments
18 Responses to “Which Languedoc Wine with Cassoulet? #Winophiles”
  1. culinarycam says:

    I love your side by side! Chateau Petit Roubié Picpoul de Pinet 2012 looks like a winner. I will track down a bottle. Thanks for sharing, Jeff.

  2. Cooking Chat says:

    I like cassoulet but have yet to make it…maybe I should try the lighter version! There’s a Picpoul de Pinet from St. Peyre that is one of our go-to every day whites. I haven’t seen the one you tried but it sounds good!

  3. I have never made a cassoulet but I am intrigued by this “lighter” recipe and having never tried it I won’t be comparing it as a purist might.

    • I would do a couple things different the next time I make it. I’d get bone-in chicken thighs, and I’d leave bigger pieces of pork. Nice to have a contrast in the size of the bites in the dish. Go for it! Thanks for visiting Wendy!

  4. lindaravello says:

    I have a recipe for ‘Whimps’ Cassoulet (A Taste of Two Cities) that goes down well with both my French and English family.
    I like the wine from the Rousillon, but Marc is still very set in his Bordeaux ways – have you ever tried Chardonnay from this region? (not the usual region, I know) I do not generally like Chardonnay, but I had a wonderful earthy one that was produced locally when I was staying in the Limoux region, full of lavender and herby undertones (not sure if that is the right word)

  5. Very nice Jeff. Your cassoulet looks delicious. Also your map of the Languedoc area is wonderful.

  6. Cassoulet is on my culinary bucket list – it generally seems to hearty for our warm desert temps so this lighter version might be the ideal bridge to my desire to make cassoulet. I found the wine pairings very interesting and was surprised the Picpoul was the best pairing.

    Great pairing – everything looks and sounds fantastic!

  7. Bevin says:

    One of those articles that makes your soul crave for a glass of fine wine! Should get hold of one of those wines you mentioned without much delay. Brilliant article!

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