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 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!
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:
- Languedoc Wines on Facebook
- L’aventure Languedoc
- Languedoc Outsiders – a group of unconventional winegrowers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
October 17th we tour Cote due Rhone, we’d love to have you join us!