Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#118 - Cassoulet With '07 Pallières Terrasse De Diable Plus A Couple Notes

We just don't have these flavors in our house.

Extremely subtle, balanced, delicate flavors.

Balanced but subtle. Subtle but delicate. Balanced but delicate.

Subtle and balanced and delicate...with a lot of 'buts' instead of 'ands,' though.

Elements teetered on the verge of evaporating into other flavors but never quite did.

It was the kind of meal that left us...not necessarily wanting...but left us feeling like we just eat a meal at a very solid restaurant, dropped a decent amount of money, left feeling good and full but also left feeling...on the precipice of...bored.

And that's even with a pairing that wandered frequently into great.

Food: Pork Shoulder and Weisswurst Cassoulet with a mâche salad

Cook's Illustrated cassoulet, numero tres, since the inception of this here blog. First time was a meat-fest with Argyle sparkling rosé. Second time, the meat extravaganza was cut in half with the herbs amped up and served with a Loire rosé for the Super Bowl.

Both of those versions came out much lighter than we expected. It's a good freakin' recipe. This one came off light as well. But possibly too light...or too subtle. With less meat again, it may have needed more herbal punch. Or maybe the mustard drench used on asparagus and Brussels sprouts in the previous preparations. Utterly enjoyable, though. It was a pretty bowl o' cassoulet that got better as the elements congealed together over the hour or so we ate it.

More meat, less meat, more herbs, mustard? Who knows.

We liked this one. Just didn't love it.

Great northern beans, pork shoulder, "weisswurst with parsley" from Gene's in Lincoln Square, onion, shallot, carrots, san marzano tomatoes, roasted garlic, duck stock, muscadet, herbes de provence and bread crumbs with parsley.

Could have been the pairing. Again...even though the pairing was pretty great at times.

Wine: 2007 Domaine Les Pallières Terrasse De Diable Gigondas ($30 - WDC)

Grape: 90% Grenache and 5% each of Mouvèdre and Clairette
Region: Gigondas
Vintage (WS): 95 - Drink or hold - Ripe, rich, powerful reds thanks to long Indian summer at harvesttime. Grenache is heady and rich, so Mourvèdre and Cinsault key for balance. Best wines are classic hedonistic delights, though some are over-the-top

The other wine from Domaine Les Pallières. I've blathered on about the first one, Les Racines, on more than a few occasions. That wine with the corn and pepper salad at Ad Hoc in July wins the 2010 Best Food and Wine Pairing Award for me. It's a benchmark of ridiculous foody-winey goodness.

This is the brother of that one and the first time Domaine Les Pallières, now owned by Kermit Lynch and the guys behind Vieux Télégraphe, split the vintage into two bottles. With the success of these two, it looks like that's going to be a permanent thing going forward.

Neither is considered to be better than the other and each sells for roughly the same price, but the Terrasse De Diable is generally considered to be taken from better vines.

Macerated dark raspberry on the nose right now. Tart and juicy raspberry and cherry with some tar on the palate before decanting for one hour.

After an hour at the start of the meal, we hit what was probably a window of the wine closing down. Came off soft. Very grenache-like but lacking a more delineated flavor structure. Small hits of earth (we wanted more), tiny hits of licorice (more, please) but a nice punch of pepper mixed with the raspberry notes that gradually (and gracefully) turned to a solid black cherry.

Then it started to come out of its shell after about two hours with the fruit becoming more expressive and the body and mouthfeel starting to distinguish itself, but seemed to need the food to get there. The acid woke up and the tannins started to do its job.

Turned into something at times delicious. 2+ hour decant seems to be the way to go. Gotta like grenache and want to deal with its occasional finicky nature. I do for the most part.

I like the "Les Racines" better for its huge bright licorice core but this one is technically more balanced once it gets going.

Pairing: 91 Tasted like love as a pairing

Two elements that separately weren't completely our bag, but together, they were helpful, nice and full of nuance.

Both were delicate and touchy, like two sensitive friends that, when together, have the nuts to actually say what they feel. They need each other to make up for the lack of aggressiveness and personality they project to the rest of the world separately.

But overall, with the pairing positively pleasing from a potent potable point of view, everything was too understated. More than usual at a time when we wanted the opposite.

Previously, we stuck to the rosé world with cassoulet. This time, we went for red.

But that's not to say that rosé didn't make an appearance.

Two quick notes: At times, I can be a bit snobby when it comes to the crap wine that people blow their money on. Yellow Tail certainly fits the bill when it comes to that. Don't get the love and never will.

BUT!!! Yellow Tail Sparkling Rosé ($6 - Trader Joe's), drank last night before dinner, made me eat every arrogant word I've ever said about the Yellow Tail line (the chardonnay can still eat me, though - that's terrible). Tasted like raspberry/strawberry Crush soda and a touch of cream soda were mixed together with nearly all the sugar drained out. Not dry, not sweet, it's as if they accidentally fell into something that tastes almost graceful and intentional.

Not saying it's anything great, there's just nothing wrong with it. If served at a party or event, I'd be completely fine with drinking it all night. Most likely nothing to recommend with food but as a sipper...yes, please. I'll take it.

And at some point, I'd like to do a "Wine Under $10 With Food To Match" feature here on this blog. One pairing in that feature will be Gino's Frozen Sausage Pizza with 2008 Chariot Gypsy ($5 - Trader Joe's). Served for Frozen Food Sunday this week, the Chariot Gypsy by itself isn't anything noteworthy. Kinda fruit-bomby and borderline dull. Introduce some fennel sausage and tomato into the equation and the herbal notes explode in the wine. Tons of creamy sage came forth and mix beautifully with the food. The fruit in the wine settles down into something much less sweet/brawny, becoming more balanced with the herbal elements and begins to alternate nicely between a brighter and darker berry blend of fruit goodness. I couldn't stop reaching for the glass after every bite. With a 2-for-1 deal on the pizzas, the entire meal for the both of us combined came to about $17. And we loved it.

Even better than the 2004 Chariot Sangiovese pairing with pizza from March. We'll be following Chariot wines until they stop making such things. They're tasty.

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