This is not any wine. Nope… nor a regular duck confit dish. Prepared with organic seasonal items and duck from a local Dordogne France producer, this dish and Rasteau wine combo could be one of our favorites.
It was one of those evenings you meet friends for an apero, someone orders a bottle you know nothing about and a sip stops you in your tracks. My exact reaction to the wine was more like ‘Whoooa, oh my gosh, what’s this?!?’
This happened to us a year ago at Le Flacon wine bar in Bordeaux. That wine from Domain Elodie Balme grabbed my attention again, this time for the French #winophiles November focus: Rasteau, a small town and appellation in southern France. Scroll down for a list and links to the #winophiles writing about Rasteau wines. And you can read Michelle’s invite post or Liz’s preview post to learn more about this group.
First Rasteau – From Valley to Mountain
Rasteau lies in the southern Rhone Valley. It’s a village and also an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) for two wines- a dry red and a fortified sweet wine.
This is where a more Mediterranean landscape starts; low, hardy shrubs referred to as scrub, mixed with lavender fields, olive trees and oak trees, inhabit plateaus, hills and terraces.
Rasteau itself sits on a hilltop with a view of the Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains.
Lyon, the gastronomic center of France, lies to the north. Avignon and the Provence region to the south.
Thank you to map source, Inter Rhone who is also a fantastic source of information on all things Rhone wine.
– From Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) to Dry Red Wine
Wineries in and around Rasteau produce dry red, white, rosé, and sweet wines. The fortified sweet wines called vin doux naturel secured AOC status in 1944. Dry red wines secured the same in 2010 and are one of nine southern Rhone cru designated villages.
Next Elodie Balme – From Traditional Roots to New Generation
In family wine businesses it’s fairly usual to see the next generation assume roles and responsibilities and finally inherit the grape growing and/or winemaking operation.
They often tend to be forward thinkers wanting to make their own mark while honoring tradition.
Elodie Balme exemplifies this new generation.
She eliminated pesticides and herbicides replacing them with organic enrichment. Her goal is to work the entire estate organically.
She keeps things as close to nature as possible believing wine is made in the vineyard.
Artificial yeasts don’t play a role in her cellar. The rule is minimal intervention letting nature take its course.
Her bottles are sold in upscale shops and on the tables of listed restaurants in various parts of the world.
Let’s Dig Into The Wine and Food!
Rasteau Dry Red
Whereas red wine in the northern Rhone is made from Syrah, Grenache plays the dominant role in the south. To it, many other grape varieties are permitted including Mourvèdre, Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault. Blends are the norm.
Domaine Elodie Balme – Rasteau AOC Rouge 2017 – 14€ in France
To a Grenache base (50%), Balme adds Carignan, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The wine starts with deep earthy underbrush aromas and a certain spearmint brightness that usher in black cherry, wild strawberry, fresh tobacco, cinnamon bark, and anise.
In the mouth it’s bright with medium silky tannins and medium acidity. It made me think of standing in a wild mixed berry patch where the ground is covered in fall-colored leaves and minty pine needles. Want to pull up a chair and join me?!?
I sum it up like this: a richness of flavor that lingers, somewhere between sassy and elegant.
The Pairing- Ou, la, la, un trés bon gout!
Mark and I love duck. We thank our friend Hank Shaw, the hunter, angler, gardener and amazing cook. While in almost every grocery store and market in France, I procure it directly from a local source. I’m sure Shaw would approve of that, and also landing in a duck-rich French city.
Duck can be prepared many ways including confit, which is cooking in fat, water or sugar slow with low temperature as a way of preservation. In France duck confit is actually the whole duck however it’s more commonly prepared from the legs of the bird.
The legs are first cured with a salt-spice mixture then cooked in their own delicious fat. If done correctly they don’t absorb much if any of fat but come out fall-off-the-bone delectably moist.
For this wine I chose Hachis Parmentier de Confit de Canard.
Parmentier is a French mashed potato and meat dish where the potatoes are spread on top of the meat, often with cheese, then baked. Instead of potatoes I used potimarron, a winter squash with a delicate chestnut flavor and subtle, earthy sweetness. In the US it’s known as Red Puri or Hokkhido squash. Do I dare share I don’t like potatoes?!?
The earthy sweetness of the squash, combined with the deeply savory duck played off the earthy, fruit and spice flavors in the wine, making them richer. With a few minor alterations, this might be our Thanksgiving main dish and wine! Scroll to the bottom for the recipe.
Wine #2: Elodie Balme – Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel – 15€ in France
100% Grenache baby! Aged in 600 liter older barrels for twelve months with no filtration when bottled. This wine is gently fortified with grape spirits to stop the yeast before completing fermentation, thus not all sugar is converted to alcohol. It’s produced in a ‘grenat’ style, meaning reductive or with no oxygen. An alternative style is ‘tuilé’ where the wine is exposed to oxygen which imparts oxidative characteristics.
It pours deep ruby, shares violet, dried strawberries, plum and licorice aromas that follow to the palate. It’s another elegant one with a contemplative, not so sweet side. We choose to sip this alone and let the chocolate dessert I made sit. In fact I can see sipping this solo while reading a book (or listening to your favorite wine podcast) on any weekend afternoon and having a second glass!
Find the wines in the US through Louis Dressner Selections.
~ #Winophiles have tasty Rasteau wines to share! ~
You can link to other articles below and join us on Twitter this Saturday, November 16th at 8am pacific, 17:00 in France. Find us chatting up Rasteau AOC wines using hashtag #winophiles. If curious minds want more information head over to Michelle’s invite post.
Cathie from Side Hustle Wino “Getting to Know the Wines of Rasteau”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “A Birthday Tradition + Side-by-Side Sips of Domaind de Verquière Rasteau”
David from Cooking Chat Food writes about “Chicken Lentil Stew and Rhône Wine from Rasteau”
Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells us how to “Become a Rasteau-farian”
Gwen the Wine Predator says “Go Grenache, Go Rasteau”
Jane from Always Ravenous writes about “Flavors of Provence Paired with Rhône Rasteau Wines”
Jeff at Food Wine Click explains “Rasteau and the Côtes du Rhône Quality Pyramid”
Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge explains how she is “Expanding My Rhône Valley Palate with Rasteau Wine”
Linda from My Full Wine Glass writes about “Basking in the Glow of Rasteau”
Liz from What’s in That Bottle says, “You Like Big Reds? Get to Know the Wines of Rasteau”
Lynn here at Savor the Harvest writes about “Rhone Valley Rasteau Cru – A New Generation Wine with Duck Confit”
Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is “Getting To Know Rasteau”
Nicole from Somm’s Table shares “Five Nights of Rasteau”
Payal from Keep the Peas discusses “Rasteau: Not So Rustic in the Southern Rhone”
Pinny from Chinese Food & Wine Pairings writes about “One Rabbit, Two Turkey Drumsticks and Four Rasteau Wines”
Robin from Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Fall, Thanksgiving and the Flavors of Rasteau”
Rupal the Syrah Queen writes, “Rasteau – Exploring The Gems of Southern Rhone”
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm whips up “A German-Style Shepherds Pie with French Rasteau”
- 1 medium sized (about 2 cups cooked) potimarron, Hokkaido or Red Kuri Squash
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter, optional
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 4 duck legs confit, pre-made
- ¼ cup Italian Parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Cut the squash in half, seed and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 20- to 30 minutes, or until very tender. Remove and cool.
- While the squash is baking, remove the skin and most the fat from the duck legs. Take the meat off the bone and tear the meat into smaller pieces.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh from the skin. Place in a food processor (or use an immersion blender) with the paprika, cinnamon, and butter if using. Pulse to create a rustically soft mixture. Mix in the fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the duck meat among four small casserole dishes (about a 1-cup capacity); dot the top of each with duck fat.
- Spoon squash on top of the duck to about ½- to ¾-inch thickness. Sprinkle parsley on top. Place on a baking sheet in a 325 F oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove and enjoy immediately. I served this with roasted romanesco broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and our favorite artisan bread but go with what speaks to you!
OMG. This dish! With these Rasteau wines! I think I know what I’m making this weekend! The whole thing – the duck, the squash situation – it sounds and looks amazing!
It was! And very easy if you grab those already made duck confit legs at Whole Foods or where ever. The hardest part will be seeing the price tag for them in Chicago. I paid 3.95€ from the producer!
Love your recipe for the confit – it’s been way too long since I made duck – and now it’s all I want. As for the wine, well, I’m on my way to the berry patch. Don’t give away my seat! 🙂
Ha, ha! Saving your seat Lauren! And a glass 😉
You had me at duck confit. This dish sounds amazing. While I like potatoes, I think your substitution of squash probably elevated the pairing! I was so sad not to get this wine, but I will search for it now. Your tasting notes are beautiful and the story behind the winemaker…Thanks for sharing this Lynn!
Thanks for your comment Robin! It’s funny, I don’t follow recipes much (unless pastry), tending to add a little of this and some of that… how the squash ended up in the dish. Hope you find the wine ;-D
I am definitely going to be on the look out for Elodie’s wines! This recipe looks fantastic. I too loooooove duck and I like the twist of using squash here. Yum!
I also can’t say enough about her VDN Nicole. A solo sipper next to a fire, on a deck, with friends!
So happy you are back on the blog! Elodie Balme has an interesting story for sure, producing her first vintage at 23 years old. I think the “new generation” will be one to watch, they are pushing the environmental envelop to a new awareness. AND, your pairing looks divine!!!! I love the idea of squash standing in for potatoes. The Wholefoods tip sealed the deal, I will make this?
I am too Jane, little by little as I support the hubby. Yes, Elodie is one to watch! See my reply to Deanna, the dish is also very nice with small dice sautéed veggies added.
I have had Red Kuri squash before. Love it, and love this Parmentier dish! Seems almost like a French lasagna of sorts, and I can see how it would be a wonderful match with the Rasteau. Now if I just lived in France….
I’ve made this a few times adding sautéed veggies to the duck which is always great, and always light on the cheese. Perhaps lasagna like without bechamel. There are definitely things that spoil us here!
Elodie seems like a winemaker to watch — and wines to watch for! This recipe sounds great also and we’ll have to try it! Sue grew a TON of squash this year!
Yes, she’s definitely finding her stride. The recipe is super easy if you buy the confit duck legs. Make ahead then pop in the oven.
A Whole Foods store recently opened here, so I’ll definitely be on the lookout for confit duck legs. Squash is such a great addition. I’m quite taken by Balme’s winemaking prowess. Someone to watch!
Just brace yourself with the price in the states, unfortunately. I’m hoping to visit the winery this spring as I feel the same as you. Thanks for your comment Linda!
I love your squash twist on Hachis Parmentier. I love potatoes, but I also enjoy mixing it up in the fall with a variety of squashes in lieu of the pomme-de-terre. Our faves are butternut, acorn, delicata, and kabocha (savory, not sweet at all).
I’ll take any of the squash you mention. Potimarron is definitely less sweet. Perhaps you’ll try it the next time you visit your son in Burgundy, depending on the season?!?
I’m not a huge duck fan – I’m sure I just haven’t had it prepared well – but this dish makes me think that I love duck and want some of this right now! It’s like a French Shepherd’s Pie! I’m so intrigued by the Vin Doux Naturel, I have never tried one but would love to.
You can always swap out the duck for something else… chicken, rabbit, leftover Thanksgiving turkey. This was a very nice VDN, hope you can find it or one 😉
O. M. G. I’m loving everything about this post! I’m a huge fan of duck confit and your recipe looks awesome. And I’m loving sounds of both of these wines! Do you know if, they’re available in the US. Would love to try!
Thanks Martin! I believe Louis Dressner brings in some of her wines but I didn’t see either of these. WineSearcher shows two shops in New York with her wine but again, not sure which. Hope you can find them, both Mark and I would purchase again.
Oh wow! This looks amazing! I’m a big fan of duck but have rarely tried to make it at home.
Thanks Kat, it was tasty. If you buy the pre-made confit legs it’s super easy!