There's been a general feeling in the Ney house recently that we've hit a bit of a lull when it comes to pairings that approach great.
We've had good, borderline great food. And we've had some good, if not great wines. The two just never seemed to come together for a great food and wine pairing.
In fact, before this meal, the best pairing we probably had in the last month was seafood sausage, rice cakes and bok choy with the 2009 Crios Torrontes. Nothing against that pairing. It was glorious. But given everything, we seem to have been in a bit of a pairing rut lately. Tons of "perfectly fine" pairings, a few "that'll work"s and a lot of "take or leave"s.
Until tonight. Until...Tonight!
Food: Curry Can Chicken with a raita, chicken glaze on the side and spinach pie
Chicken prepped the night before using twice the recommended salt along with pepper and baking soda rubbed all over it and stuck in the refrigerator overnight. Soda can stuffed with the crappy Alois Gross Muskateller from Monday with ginger and garlic and stuck up its rump.
Chicken glazed with butter, orange marmalade, "hot" curry powder, lemon zest and sambal oelek, a sort of hot pepper paste popular in Southeast Asia, then thrown in the oven.
Came out Beaut-i-ful! The extra salt intensified the curry, sambal oelek and marmalade to such a degree that every flavor continued to linger in such a glorious way long after we swallowed. Wasn't hot. Came off more like a deep honeyed char with orange hints and a perfectly-pitched curry with oodles of depth. Best wine can chicken yet. With the glaze on the side to remoisten everything, there really was no contest. Best ever.
Chicken was over a raita, an yogurt-based Indian condiment usually used as a cooling agent for the heat that comes with things like a curry. This one was yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, onions, mint, fennel fronds and toasted coriander and white pepper. This was probably the glue to the meal. While the chicken glaze wasn't hot enough to need a cooling agent, it served as something to cut any richness that the glaze offered while serving as a bridge to the feta in the spinach pie.
It's just frozen Trader Joe's spinach pie but Mrs. Ney really didn't feel like cooking after the last two days and the thought of another green salad or prepping another starch seemed like way too much work. Didn't need anything else in the least. I've said it before and I'll say it again, best frozen product along with seafood sausage at Trader Joe's by far. Flaky, fresh, not too feta-y, not salty in the least and just all around freakin' weirdly delicious.
So we had wine can chicken with frozen spinach pie. On paper, before eating it, it would have seemed like a fine enough meal, tasty and good. Perfect with a catalogue wine. Easy-peasy and we would have moved on, happy enough.
In reality, it was the best meal we've had here in a few months.
And the wine played as big of a part.
Wine: 2005 Domaine Huët Clos Du Bourg Demi-Sec Vouvray ($30-ish - WDC?)
Grape: 100% Chenin Blanc (biodynamic)
Vineyard: Clos Du Bourg (Le Haut Lieu and Le Mont being Huët's other regular vineyards)
Vintage: 93 - warm, dry season and ideal weather at harvest; low yields led to concentrated, balanced wines (WS)
It's been sitting in the cellar, laid on its side right in the front, staring at me for over a year. I constantly thought, "Just drink the damn thing. It's probably only marginally cellar-worthy anyway."
Straw yellow in the glass. Lightly honeyed nose. On the palate, white peach to peach with honeysuckle, a bit of minerality and a glorious underlying floral note that wasn't overly pronounced but served as a beautiful base throughout and made everything seamless. Just kept giving with great precision. Straight-up off-dry. Vacillated between being almost rich and being lifting and light, walking a great line. Faint secondary and indistinguishable tropical fruit notes. A graceful acidity that wasn't bracing or overt but was enough to allow everything to play nice and come through. Medium to slightly short finish propped up mostly by the acid, keeping it from being a ridiculously good wine and maybe the best white wine I've ever had. If longer, it would have made the wine almost perfect. Long life to this one. By golly, this is pretty!
We'll be doggedly following this vineyard of the Huët line. Maybe not this exact vintage, but more will be bought and soon.
Pairing: 94 Simply great
All the soldiers lined up and saluted. This would have been a pretty great meal without wine. With this wine, it approached perfect. It made us think if the finish to the wine was a wee bit longer, it would have been. And would have sat right alongside the Asian beef filet with Yalumba and dry-aged beef with '94 Heredia pairing. For now, it slides right below those since I started this blog.
The white peach and honeysuckle in the wine danced with the feta and raita with the graceful touch of acidity frolicking beautifully with the chicken glaze.
The meal itself had some great bridges that surprisingly stayed right in the same range of weight and spice and the wine filled in any gaps that weren't bridged. Everything was so fluid, flowing and effortless.
It was a thrown-together Wednesday night meal for the most part and it ended up feeling like something quite unique and pretty remarkable.