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
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
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.
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.
Jane from Always Ravenous writes about “Flavors of Provence Paired with Rhône Rasteau Wines”
Kat from The Corkscrew Concierge explains how she is “Expanding My Rhône Valley Palate with Rasteau Wine”
Lynn here at Savor the Harvest writes about “Rhone Valley Rasteau Cru – A New Generation Wine with Duck Confit”
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”
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!