TN: Champagne, Cassoulet, Champigny, Chablis, Colombiere, Cowan, CdP, and non-C stuff

Betsy was swamped with work and practicing, and under the weather, so a week of me cooking:
With assorted leftovers, the 2009 Keller Trocken Riesling QbA. Clean, citrus, nice balance, B/B+
With sardines in a sweet/sour sauce with potatoes, as well as slivered snow peas, the 2004 Henri Bonnaire Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Light, crisp, decent length, a little sweet on finish. B
Sunday I made cassoulet from the D'Artagnan kit, we invited several couples to join us. Betsy was under the weather, but rallied enough to be a charming hostess. We started with a scallop/shrimp/avocado ceviche Nancy brought, with:
NV Pinon Vouvray Brut Non-Dose
Brisk, yeasty, nice fruit, long finish. B+
2007 Domaine and Selection "Blanchots" Chablis Grand Cru
Negociant wine, wine maker listed as Clotilde Davenne. Pears, chalk, clean and easy. Good example of Chardonnay, not a bad example of Chablis, but as an example of GC Chablis, shaky shaky ground. B
2007 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese (#12)- what a waste, totally shut down, just sweetness and little else. For drinking today C+/B-, but I look forward to some in 6 years.

Then to table for cassoulet and a fennel/lettuce salad with a citrus dressing. The wines:
1995 Edmunds St John "Durrell" Syrah
Double-decanted an hour or two in advance (lots of sediment). Still a bit of tannin, good acids, but strong fruit too. Dark berries, leather, a little animal funk. Long and balanced, best as end of night. A-
2003 Bois du Boursan Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Red fruit, earth, herb. Not as fat or hot (listed as 14.5%) as some 03 CdPs. Others liked it more than I, but I did enjoy. B
2007 Chateau de Colombiere Fronton Reserve
80% Negrette, 10 % Syrah, 10% "Cabernets"
Needs a little more spine. Red fruits, spice, a bit short with a bitter edge to finish, I prefer their base "vinum". B-/C+
2009 Filliatreau "La Grand Vignolle" Saumur-Champigny
Ripe, floral, ok but not my fave vintage of this. B-/B
I also cooked Monday, meatless isn't my speciality, but I was pretty content with results- I grilled (pressed) tofu, Japanese eggplant, and shiitakes, parsteamed some broccoli, put that all in a soy/chili oil marinade, made vegetable broth, cooked udon, then assembled all of that into one hot pot. Wine was the 2007 Domaine Carneros (by Taittinger), brought by guests previous night. Lemon and apple, just a touch of yeast, light, maybe a bit simple but clean. B-
On a beautifully last night of "June-uary" (60 degrees) , I grilled salmon with a soy/miso glaze, roasted some cauliflower, and served with the Cowan Cellar "Bennett Valley" Pinot Noir. I tried this both in a Burg glass and in a smaller glass (Zalto white wine, probably 12-13 oz) and much preferred in smaller. In big globe it seemed excessively primary, but much more refined in midsized glass. Black cherries, a touch of damp earth, fruit dominated but with a nice sense of balance. B+/B for now
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.
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How did the Cassoulet kit work out. I have been temped to try it as I have trouble purchasing some of the ingredients.
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Sorry to hear that Betsy's was ailing. I hope that she's recovered. That Pinon Brut is quite lovely, as are all the wines from Pinon recently (I still have one more bottle of his outstanding '08 Vouvray Tradition) and his pricing makes them fantastic QPR wines across the board. But you already knew that... ;-)
You were wise to keep the accompanying dish simple and light. Poisoning by cassoulet overdose ain't a pretty sight!
Ooh! Aah! Great sounding bottle. I'm jealous.
Now, knowing you for hardly the world's most avid fan of Grenache, WTF are you doing with an '03 in the cellar? Gift? Purchase under the influence? FWIW, as an avowed fan of CNdP, I have only one '03er... and it was a present from my students.
I'm glad to hear that this wine is doing so well as I've got some, too. From your experiences with it on the second day (as reported elsewhere) I'd say that there's no hurry on this one.
Thanks for the notes, Mark Lipton
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Mark Lipton
Trouble indeed! I made the Julia Child recipe from her _Mastering the Art of French Cooking_. It took days to find/gather the ingredients. Even then the confit d'oie was a no go, but she said pork works just as well. I am lucky to have some great ethnic markets in the area, which helped. I was tempted to just use the optional polish sausage rather than make my own sausage cakes, but it turned out to be one of the easier parts of the prep. Even then, the preparation took two days. I had to say it was worth it, but if there was an easier way....
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Bill O'Meally
Larry (and Bill)
Really quite good, though I screwed it up slightly. Someone had posted a link to a site (Blackboard eats) with a $30 off coupon, so $73.xx delivered for 6 confit legs, 2 packages of duck/armagnac sausage, a huge garlic sausage, 3 lbs of haricots Tarbais, a big hunk of ventreche, a container of demiglace, container of duck fat. Tarbais are really hard to find, and everyplace I see online is $20+/lb plus shipping. So great deal- I'd have easily spend more than a $100 going to a few markets to get ingredients, plus time to make confit. I know traditional to make one's own confit, but this was a huge time saver.
All that was a bit much for my 7 qt Le Creuset , so I set aside half the duck sausage, a 1/3 of the garlic sausage, and a pound of the beans (with 8 people still had tons of leftovers).So I dutifully broke crust several times, the pot held liquid well, but after uncovered I added some goose broth. But the screwup came because one couple had an issue (and were bringing the appetizer), and everything got pushed back 30+ minutes. I had plenty of liquid in, and thought if I turned off oven and covered, it would be fine. I was shocked at how much liquid the beans absorbed in that state. So a bit drier than I had hoped. But that was my fault, not recipe or klts.
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I think just "that's a good price" syndrome. My CdP buying is pretty much more producer oriented than vintage. Mostly I used to buy Beaucastel and Vieux Donjon, with a smattering of Bois du Boursan, P. Usseglio, Mont Redon. Then prices soared. I knew '03 was warm, but took chances on some BdB and Usseglio at $20ish prices. I have a few (non-wine geek) friends who love ripe CdP, so always good to have crowd pleasers. I think in last 4-5 vintages I have bought exactly one bottle, a mag of 08 VD for $68
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I don't really have any non-Hispanic ethnic markets here so to buy the ingredients for me takes a trip to Albuquerque and going online so getting all in one place would save a boatload. The last time I tried to make it correctly it cost nearly $175 for 8 people.
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I think unless you have easy access to the ingredients, this is a deal even at regular prices considering quality (though not sure what shipping would be to you-very cheap to NY since they are in NJ). I mean, roughly $100 plus the fresh stuff (herbs, carrot, onion, garlic). But recipe easily feeds 12 (I did 2/3s, fed 8 and then Betsy and I had leftovers for 2-3 lunches, plus my helpers at work got couple meals). Even if I went totally cheap version (great northerns instead of Tarbais, some kind of chicken sausage instead of duck/armagnac, kielbasa instead of garlic or Toulouse sausage, pancetta for the ventreche, etc) it would run $60+. And that's assuming you made the confit (probably using oil if you didn't have that much duck fat)
With the coupon deal all the more compelling. If I see another deal like that will post here.
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Any idea where to find the coupon deal? We have a CdP dinner coming up for which this would be perfect. Saving $25 wouldn't hurt.
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Unfortunately this was one of those "deal of the day" sites (Blackboard Eats). If I see anything similar again I'll post here immediately. Sorry!
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Go to
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. The cost for their kit is 104.99. Usually there is also a rather high air shipping charge, which would be over $30 to me about half way across the country and likely even more to the west coast. However for the month of February you get free shipping for orders of over US$100. I did not order it because I do not like duck grease :-), but for those who do not mind a very rich dish, it no doubt tastes very fine.
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I've used the kit many times and it does a pretty good job, fairly straightforward, and plenty of leftovers as Dale said. The garlic sausage is quite tasty.
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