Saturday, July 24, 2010

#101 - Thomas Keller Chicken & Burgundian Cheese with a Burgundian White

Now over 100 posts!

Never would have guessed. It's served us well as a reference.

Thomas Keller chicken seemed appropriate after a Thomas Keller Ad Hoc visit four days before. He was at Ad Hoc the night we were there, sitting next to a guy who had the four-course Memphis BBQ dinner at 5pm and came back for it again at 9pm. Gotta say, it was that good. I'd do it.

And Burgundy was something we were going to delve deeper into instead of the recent surface play after we exhausted our love for other regions. I just never would have thought it would start with white Burgundy. But it has. And we love it.

We love Pinot Noir and have thought in the past that Chardonnay can rot on the vine (wine humor and recycled at that!) for all we cared. But something happened with the Viré Clessé from last month.

A place has been found for Chardonnay in our world rather quickly and nearly completely. So the retort from some was true. We just didn't have a good one. I expect our prejudice for California Chardonnay to linger for years but white Burgundy, welcome to our world. You're good stuff.

Food: Thomas Keller chicken with mâche and parsley salad and Burgundian cheese and baguette

It was a near identical match to the Chardonnay tasting last month. Same chicken, this time with a more dark chicken and a slightly higher salt level and definitely higher pepper level. Juicy with great skin with better dark meat than the breast this time. It's the best chicken on the planet. Here's the recipe.

The Burgundian cheese, delice de Bourgogne, nearly matched the chicken. Like brie without the brie-ness. Intensely creamy without choking you with its creaminess and just enough funkiness that knows when to go away. Served with LaBriola baguette. No baguette is better and it's not every close. If you don't agree, put 'em up, sport.

Mrs. Ney wasn't thrilled about the prospect of chicken. She craved it a few days before but wasn't as she was making it. But like tuna Niçoise, fish tacos, bahn mi and scores of other meals, it always turns into something delicious, absolutely wanted and always a meal that wildly exceeds every expectation. It was another "Hot Mother Damn, this is good!"

And the wine certainly helped.

Wine: 2006 Jean-Phillipe Fichet Auxey Duresses ($45 - Randolph Wine Cellars)

Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Auxey Duresses, just west of Meursault and seemingly carved out of the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune hillside
Vintage (WS): 91 - Drink or hold - Best are pure, elegant and balanced, with plenty of mineral character

the Auxey Duresses AOC has only been around since 1970. Before that, grapes grown there sold under the Meursault and Volnay appellation labels and some mixed Villages labels. Quality and distinction has steadily increased and vineyards are using the Auxey Duresses name on the bottle more frequently.

Jean-Phillipe Fichet is a strict winemaker using slow growing and mostly organic techniques, even studying the micro-climates of micro-climates to find the true expression of the grape from the true expression of the land. He has vines all over Burgundy. This is his Auxey Duresses vines.

Tons of smoky pear on the palate with a hint of maybe (baked?) apple and chockablock with a chalky minerality on the mid-palate. In fact, that's all that was on the mid-palate. Unique, balanced and open, it just sung and was worth every bit of the $45 price tag. Beautifully subdued touch of underlying butter that left at the right time for the minerality to transition in. Nice finish with more smoky pear perking up. Layered and wonderful. More lively and refreshing than the Domaine de Roally with less funk. Two different styles, two pretty great wines.

We'll be following Mr. Fichet after this one.

Pairing: 94 Good chicken and good Chardonnay = Yes, please!

We've messed around with other whites with wine can chicken and some worked, some fell flat and many were as fair-to-middling as it gets, if pleasant enough to have around.

Many times, those average ones were wines we liked already and simply wanted to drink. They turned out fine enough, mostly because we already liked the wine.

But as a roast chicken pairing, I would venture to guess that white Burgundy wins out 80% of the time from here on out.

Probably best with the cheese and bread as the subtle funkiness in the cheese danced with the butter and minerality of the wine. Seemed made for each other and actually were. Rarely can you go wrong when you stay within the same region for food and wine. It's what they do and why they do it.

But the chicken with the wine was a close second, especially with the pepper. There was a point very early in the meal when we felt like we had to start rationing the wine as we kept grabbing for the glass after every bite. It was that good together. We constantly wanted to get that taste in our mouth back.

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