Cassoulet & Mostly French Wines

Fall has descended upon our area, and it was time to pull out the cassoulet pans and summon fellow Francophiles.

With a charcuterie platter, we started with

2003 Taittinger ‘Comtes de Champagne’ Rose [Champagne] This was thrown back quickly, and was my wife’s favorite. Inconveniently shaped bottle! 12% abv, and plenty of zip, with lots of life and no mushrooming on the cork. I don’t think the idea that hot years age poorly is an iron law of physics.

2012 Bollinger ‘La Grande Anne’ [Champagne] Juicy acid, lemon, bread notes. Classic vintage bubbly attributes. Disgorged in Jan 2020. 12% abv. Long finish.

2002 Chapoutier ‘Le Meal’ blanc [Hermitage] 20 years on…no fading nor oxidation. Full bodied with the texture of a big California Chardonnay but the flavors of straw, honey and beeswax. 14.5% abv which sneaks up on the taster. Again, a long finish.

And then a couple of Burgundies snuck in as we transitioned…

2005 Frederic Magnien ‘Beaux Monts’ 1er [Vosne Romanee] An NBI unfiltered example. 13% abv, structured, tannic still, some cherry flavors. Dark for a wines from this area. Nutmeg and sandalwood on the nose, and better on the second day so maybe decanting might have helped. It’s a powerful 2005 Cotes de Nuit.

2013 Leroy [Cotes de Nuits Villages] 13% abv. Compared to the above, this was fleshier, rounder. It was consumed quickly with pleasure, so I didn’t get detailed notes. Finding this producers’ wines takes some effort now.

The cassoulet platters were placed on a roaming buffet and we tucked into that, along with the next wave of reds.

2003 Yann Chave [Hermitage] Very dark, almost blackish, with lots of bright red berry fruit flavors. Smooth on the palate, but lots of chunky sediment in the bottle and last glass. 14% abv. Lovely acidic balance and lots of flavor depth. One of the best red Rhones I can recall in recent years.

2000 Giscours [Margaux] 13% abv, some sweet glycerin mouthfeel, with dark and rich full bodied texture, but still some structure and tannin, even at voting age. I thought it was more driven by its cab sauvignon character. A strong masculine kind of Margaux AOC.

1996 Pontet Canet [Pauilliac] 13% abv and medium bodied with lots of cedar and classic mature left bank notes. Still vigorous on day #3. The fruit leans toward the red end of the spectrum and there is still tannin; perhaps that will always be here.

A brace of California wines closed out the mains

2013 Barrett & Barrett Cabernet Sauvignon [Calistoga] Husky CS at 14.7% and chewy. Comes in a vanity bottle with a deep punt. Blueberry flavors, very smooth or refined tannins, which seems unlikely for something associated with the Montelena leadership. Big fruit.

2018 The Debate ‘Stagecoach Vyd’ Cabernet Franc [Napa] Dark, youthful, primary. Vanilla oak flavors, then plum fruit and almonds, along with other mixed nuts. I don’t get the herbal CF flavors that the varietal can show, but perhaps those might emerge over aging. Lots of grip and structure, keeping well over 5 days being opened.

We had a fruit tart, along with berries/cream to go with the sticky:

2001 Lafaurie Peyraguey [Sauternes] This improved with air, surprisingly. Tropical flavors on a dark gold viscous frame. Butterscotch, and very sweet. Outlier view, but consider decanting to get the most out of this.


The cassoulet looks absolutely delicious. And an impressive lineup of wines.


Nice! Life is good.

That looks wonderful! We did cassoulet this weekend too. Unfortunately it did not feel like cassoulet weather as the temps were in the 70’s, but it still tasted great.