Tuesday, April 13, 2010

#59 - Red-Spiced Wine Can Chicken & '06 Ponzi Pinot Noir

Initial thoughts were that we were trying to force-fit a pairing here.

Not that chicken and pinot noir is necessarily bad, just that it can feel a bit uninspired. We were craving both, though, so Mrs. Ney did everything she could to lubricate the pairing, resulting in some pretty inspired results.

Wine: Cinnamon and sumac rubbed wine can chicken with cherry-rosewater jam, mâche salad and baguette with butter and explorateur cheese

Mrs. Ney pinot noired up the chicken! Rubbing it with cinnamon and sumac made for a great skin and much more spicy-earthy quality than previous wine can chickens. But the star was the cherry-rosewater jam. Cherry jam mixed with rosewater and black pepper. It brought some acid and really let the wine open up.

Good eats and juicy chicken made better by the wine.

Wine: 2006 Ponzi Pinot Noir ($30 - Binny's)

What used to be a graceful, straightforward, fruity pinot noir that made us love Oregon pinot noir has started to become more complex. We had this one back in January and saw that it had started to become more dark and deep but had maybe lacked the leafy quality that made us love it.

It's back and, most likely, it was brought out by lubricating the food in the direction of the wine more than pistachio-crusted lamb could. Instead of relying on lamb itself to carry the day, Mrs. Ney played up many pinot noir-ish secondary flavors to ease things along, letting the wine sort of do its thing with a ton of support along the way.

Popped and poured. A touch darker and brownish in the glass than I remember. Alcohol right away but it blew out quickly. The previously immediate and pronounced straight cherry note is gone, giving way to a slightly more tart black cherry. Even before the chicken skin, cinnamon and a bit of spice box. The dry autumn leaf quality has changed to a wet bundle of leaves and earth quality. Sort of forest floor-ish without the mossy quality.

About 30 minutes in, a deep and dominating cola note showed up for me and hung around for about another 30 minutes. Great stuff. I thought about decanting but this made me glad I didn't. Some sort of pie filling note showed up as well that was not so much syrupy, like a traditional pie filling note is, but more like a faint viscosity mixed with fruit.

Still some gracefully fading acidity here that retained its balance to the last drop of the two hour meal. Could easily have drunk another bottle. The finish was medium to short, going away a tad quickly only to kick back up a few seconds later and show some nice heat while continuing to linger for longer than expected.

The 2006 continues to impress us and should drink well enough for another three years or so.

Pairing: 90 Nothing wrong with that

Great with the cherry-rosewater jam, made to pair with the rose petal note we found specifically in the Ponzi on previous occasions. We put it on the chicken and on the bread and it was consistently the star. The cinnamon and sumac on the chicken with the jam and the wine was some great stuff.

Not good with the mâche, making us a little too aware that we were eating greens, and not in a good way. Surprisingly not terrible with the funky Explorateur.

Mostly though, it was the constant changes and constant surprises that drew this pairing out of the uninspired realm and into a nice, unexpectedly good little meal.

It never quite got into the "great" realm. I can't say that Ponzi would ever get there. It's not a wine that ever approaches knock-your-socks-off spectacular. We like it because it's shocking how comfortable Ponzi is in its own skin, never aspiring to be something it's not, always delivering what it promises on the first sip, evolving gracefully and bordering on elegant. There's an integrity about it, I guess, and that's what keeps us coming back.

The meal without the wine would have been fine and good. With the wine, it was utterly delicious.

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