When I think back to the early days of my journey into wine, I find it funny to recall that I didn’t realize that Châteauneuf-du-Pape was in any way related to the Grenacha of Spain I was tasting. If you put the two together, you’ll see what I mean. Châteauneuf-du-Pape tends more toward concentrated dark fruits with earthy and herbal tones (and is usually a blend). In recent years, these wines have gotten bigger and richer. They are certainly worth seeking, but I find it very important to experiment and find the style/producer you like.
A Cassoulet may be one of the largest projects you’ve ever tackled in your kitchen, but it’s worth every second. As for the perfect pairing with Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a Cassoulet of White Beans with Braised Pork, Sausage, and Duck Confit fits the bill to a tee. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making this, then you at least owe it to yourself to seek it out at a local French restaurant. If you are the adventurous sort, you can save some time by buying Duck Confit from a specialty butcher.
2009 Vignobles Mayard Châteauneuf-du-Pape Clos du Calvaire - The nose showed dusty black cherries, blueberry and citrus rind with wild herbs and savory meaty notes. On the palate, I found blackberry fruit and spice with violet candies and bitters. This wine showed great structure and wonderful balance as it was bitter, then sweet and acidic, then rich on the palate. The alcohol showed slightly on the long finish but still showed enough fruit and structure to forgive it.