Five Love that Cabardes Wine Pairings Courtesy of Ryan O'Connell

After 3 weeks of piling up the recipes on you, I thought it was time to make some wine pairing suggestions.

I sent a few enlightened wine minds a list of 5 recipes and asked them to offer 5 pairings. 

Each of these wine minds gets a different list of course.

We start with young dynamo, Ryan O'Connell, of Love that Languedoc who just added to his panoply an e-book Wines of Carcassonne . Makes sense since his family's property O' Vineyards in Cabardes is located minutes from the city of Carcassonne.

Here are 5 wines Ryan paired with 5 recipes I gave him, all from Cabardes area:

For Cauliflower Bacon Gratin from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (HMH Books), Ryan goes for Domaine de Cabrol - Vent d'Est 2007 (60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Cabernet)

"The trick here is to pick a wine that will accompany the bacon, potato, creams, eggs, butter and cheese of a gratin without amplifying these ingredients so much that you lose the cauliflower. The last thing you want is to bog the meal down in alternating rounds of excessive tannin and excessive cream.  Also, people tend to serve this as a side to another rich dish like a roast, so I'm going to try for a wine that will pair well with the entire meal.

That's why I chose Vent d'Est from Cabrol.  It is an exquisitely structured wine that is still fresh with a touch of austerity.  It exemplifies the Cabardes appellation of France which offers deep, flavorful wines that benefit from the Mediterranean sun while maintaining a cool temper thanks to the Atlantic influence in our climate."


Number 2, Buttermilk Leg of Lamb from Salted by Mark Bitterman (Ten Speed Press) he offers  Proprietor's Reserve 2005 from his family Domaine O' Vineyards without hesitation.

"Mmm, a nicely spiced leg of lamb.  I paired it with one of my own wines, a deep, rich wine with so much structure it can lift this hefty leg without a hitch.  Every bite of food and every sip of wine can last a full minute as different flavors of amazing depth roll around your tongue. Featuring the sun-drenched flavors of the Mediterranean and a sumptuously meat offering, this pairing is intense and hedonistic, not for the light of heart."

Third, a comforting White Bean Soup by The Crabby Cook aka Jessica Harper meets Chateau de Brau - Cuvée Chateau- (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah)...

"Now we're on a lighter dish with a lot of great herbs like rosemary, thyme, and garlic which all grow wild in this region of France.  These wild herbs of the underbrush are referred to communally as "la garrigue".  I'm pairing this soup with a younger organic Cabardes that will offer dark fruit (think blackberries and currant) and a sort of liquorice quality that are a natural fit with the flavors of the garrigue."

In fourth, vegetarian Middle Eastern Chickpea Burgers by Rebecca Katz (and Mat Edelson) from The Cancer- Fighting Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2009) finds its match with Chateau Salitis Viognier 2008

"Chickpea paddies like this tend to be much lighter than street food such as falafel. These particular chickpea burgers depend on their amazing herbal flavours and you don't want a wine so heavy or sharp that it will crush the food.  I think a dry, crisp Viognier from Chateau Salitis would be a perfect pairing.  It's bright, and will underline the aromatic qualities of the burgers."


Let's finish on sweet side of things with Vanilla Sugar Drops from Heilala Vanilla and an experiment in dessert wines Font Juvenal - ? 2004 - "Les vendanges passerillées" (Viognier and Muscat Blanc Petit Grains)

"So the enigmatically named "?" cuvée is not strictly Cabardes because our appellation only has red and rosé wines.  Instead I chose the ? which is an experimental dessert wine from one of the Cabardes' best producers.  A late harvest sweet wine made from Viognier and Muscat blanc petits grains.  If you're not into sweet on sweet, I might recommend you stray a bit south of my appellation to the sparkling Blanquette de Limoux which will offer a lighter and more uplifting pairing for these vanilla sugar drops."

I hope this piqued your interest in the Cabardes area offerings. Want to know more, Try your Luck at Winning a Free Copy of Wines of Carcassonne.


Hopefully more wine pairings from different areas will follow if other wine minds are not too wrapped up in the holidays to find time to contribute.

(* illustrations top to bottom, vineyards at Domaine de Cabrol, Tuiles rooftops of Font Juvenal, Ryan ready to conquer Carcassonne)

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