It was a long time coming, but I finally committed to making Cassoulet with friends in town heading over for dinner. It was the work of several days, although admittedly most of that was deciding on a recipe. I'm glad to say it came out very well, as did the accompanying Rhone reds.
Domaine de la Pertuisane Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes 2005
Guigal and Chapoutier might need no introduction but Pertuisane might not ring too many bells. Established in 2003, the winery is trying to get the most out of some low-yielding old vines near the village of Maury. According to the label, the wine is 70% Grenache Noir and 30% Carignan Noir, and made in tiny quantities. It struck me as more Spanish than Rhone, but was very enjoyable, with loads of pure, ripe fruit and spice.
Chapoutier Monier de la Sizeranne Hermitage 2005
Chapoutier list "conviviality and hospitality" amongst their values, and a communal pot of cassoulet amongst friends from three continents is probably down that path. This classy, elegant wine of promise could do with being a bit more convivial, as it remains very tight in its youth. After some time it did start to open up, but I suspect this needs to be revisited later in the decade to allow the herb and meaty characters to fully develop.
Guigal Côte Rotie Brune et Blonde 2003
Easily my favourite on the night, this wine seems to have hit its peak, and makes me very desirous of the three LaLas from the same vintage. The Brune et Blonde is 96 % Syrah and 4% Viognier, with grapes grown on silicone limestone soil (Côte Blonde) and soil rich in iron oxide (Côte Brune). The 2003 is very rich, reflective of the hot vintage, but is not overdone, showing an enticing mix of bacon fat, leather and cassis. The bnest Bruine et Blonde I've had.