I was invited to a “cassoulet cook-off” dinner party recently, so I brought my version of this traditional bean stew from southwest France and paired it with a hearty Madiran, from the same region.
Cassoulet is one of those dishes, like bouillabaisse, where no one agrees on the “correct” recipe and everyone personalizes their own based on taste and tradition. I took a short cut: I ordered the “cassoulet kit” from D’Artagnan, the American company that specializes in food products from the southwest of France. It included the crucial Tarbais white beans, plus duck confit, garlic sausage, duck sausage, ventreche, veal demi-glace and duck fat. Some assembly was required; it took me nearly three hours to put it all together. But it turned out great.
The Madiran, from the producer Montus Bouscassé, was new to most of the guests, but this smooth, powerful blend of the local Tannat variety with some Cabernet Sauvignon had the depth and structure to hold up to the rich dish. A core of lovely black cherry fruit kept the combination fresh and lively. I rated the wine 92 points, non-blind, and wished I had brought a magnum.
WineSpectator.com: Read the original blind-tasting review of Montus Bouscassé Madiran Château Montus 2006 (91, $38).
• Plus, get our quick list of Easy Finds among French reds.
Cassoulet ingredients from D'Artagnan