Tuesday, May 25, 2010

#78 - Moroccan Chicken & Modified Quinoa With '07 Savennières

A lot of screaming came from the kitchen last night.

The chicken fell over four times in the oven, the quinoa didn't fluff up and a general sense of frustration from all angles in Mrs. Ney's cooking world oozed from the kitchen.

Throw that on top of the first 90 degree day and it wasn't fun for her.

The result, though, had none of that frustration. It was good eats.

Eric Asimov did a Savennières tasting report just two days ago in the New York Times, which prompted the Moroccan direction of last night's meal to go with the wine, and we had a Savennières that is just adored by our favorite wine person at WDC. Mr. Asimov steered us wrong on this one, though. Not a pairing we would do again.

But Savennières...you're weird and mysteriously lovely. And that's why we're starting to love you. You're the Polish Poster Shop of wine.

Food: Moroccan-spiced wine can chicken with modified quinoa, mâche and baguette

Honey, bee pollen, lemon, garlic and wine in a can and shoved up the rump of the chicken. Rubbed with paprika and cumin and roasted. Turned out magically delicious. Good chicken for a hot day.

A sauce on the side made from a spoonful of tahini, chicken stock, lemon thyme and wine from the wine can. Goopy good.

After the quinoa didn't fluff up, Mrs. Ney improvised by adding wild rice to the golden raisin, walnut, parsley, shallots, lemon juice and olive oil mixture. Not only was it salvaged but became something quite good.

A Moroccan-influenced, Pan-Arab meal was the intention and the result. The chicken brought the right hint of spice along with crispy skin and the tahini sauce, especially drizzled over the mâche at the end of the meal, served as a solid accompaniment to everything. We liked the plate of food and were happy.

Baguette and butter rounded everything out and, unfortunately, was the item that worked best with the wine.

Wine: 2007 Mathieu Tijou Croix Picot Chateau de l'Eperonniere Savennières ($24 - WDC)

Grape: 100% Chenin Blanc
Vintage: 90 Drink or hold, A warm, dry September helped save the vintage for Chenin Blanc

Four-hour decant on recommendation from our favorite wine person at WDC. Darker gold in the glass. Soft, closed nose. On the palate, anything that resembles honey and the honey-making process showed up. Honey, beeswax, bee pollen, you get it with a hint of cinnamon pear, especially as it came closer to room temperature. Not big. A bit of wax and dry, dry, dry. An oily texture without the oil note and the right amount of alcohol that brought about a nice, slow burn on the finish. Good length, not too long, but beautiful nonetheless with a light honeyed oil coating everything on the way down.

This is maybe our eighth Savennières and they keep getting more interesting with each passing bottle. Chenin blanc, you win. You're my favorite white grape with splashes of viura mixed in.

A pretty, seamless wine by itself. Not so much with the food.

Pairing: 84 It broke up with the food and didn't enhance the overall meal

This wasn't a big, burly Savennières. It was missing that overarching nuttiness that comes with the bigger ones. With the Moroccan chicken, it turned slightly bitter and broke up a bit, throwing all the honeyed notes to the front of the line and leaving a hint of bitterness on the mid-palate while leaving the food to fall a bit flat.

Not much better with the quinoa-rice salad but pretty spectacular with the baguette and butter. And that's unfortunate. The Mathieu Tijou is a borderline great wine that's light on its feet while at the same time bringing the goods.

Moroccan-inspired spice and preparation is not this wine's bag, though. Even with the copious amounts of bee-honey foodstuffs added to help it along. With the baguette and butter performing the best, something lighter and more subtle would have served it much better.

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