Tuesday, January 4, 2011

#149 - Bittman Chicken, Skordalia & Pea Shoot Salad With An 8 Year-Old Muscadet

I've had a tough time figuring out if the 2002 Muscadet drank last night is, in fact, Michel Brégeon's Reserve. The company I bought it from assured me it was, saying it was the only one Kermit Lynch imported when they bought it.

Doesn't say it on the bottle (exact picture to the right) but it was worth a shot given both the regular bottling and the reserve each spent seven years (!) on its lees before being put in the bottle.

And Kermit Lynch said it was the best Muscadet he's ever had.

And it was an eight-year-old Muscadet for $25.

And while we've only had about ten different labels of Muscadet, we just love the snot out of it.

And this one, of those ten, is the best one I've ever had.

Food: Chicken under a brick, skordalia with pita for dipping and a pea shoot salad

A Mark Bittman instruction of cooking chicken taken from Italy and one of the quicker chicken preparations for the quality out there. Alter the herbs and rubs as you like. Mrs. Ney did and does.

Used this recipe with the touch of brightness and lift coming from the use of one lemon to tie into the wine. Juicy chicken, tasty skin, fine stuff. Used six boneless thighs instead of a whole chicken.

Skordalia (see recipe above) turned into a favorite in this house about a year ago and become one of those entrée accompaniments that slide so beautifully into the Muscadet/Albariño/Greek white/better bubbly vein. Fits like a glove. This one without breadcrumbs (gluten and dairy free!), subbing boiled and peeled potatoes and using roasted garlic instead of raw. Tasted like Eastern European hummus in a great way.

Pea shoot salad to finish with sliced cucumber, gaeta olives, scallions, mint, parsley and dressed with lemon zest, white balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoyed everything immensely but worried about some of the elements overpowering the wine.

In the end, no problems at all.

Wine: 2002 Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie Reserve ($25 - SFWTC)

Probably the most balanced crisp white I've ever had. Light but substantial. Complex yet quick to transition. Stony as all get out but developed in the most pure way. If I were rich, THIS would be my ideal spring-summer drinker and I would never get sick of it. Just so pretty, graceful, welcoming and stupid good.

Typical Muscadet melon and citrus notes with bright fresh acid intermingled with a white grapefruit note, all of it light, graceful and sparkly. Wet stones in the middle with a subtle yeasty note and finished with the lightest spring rainwater coda that refreshed, cleansed the palate and left me wanting more...quickly.

Eight years old and it tasted like it was made yesterday. Beautifully put together and, as I said, the best Muscadet I've ever had in my rather limited Muscadet life. I'll up it. It's the best light, crisp white I've ever had with only a couple of Heredias, a Hüet and maybe a Champagne or two beating it in the all-around white category.

Pairing: 90 One of those pairings where "absolutely no problems" made it that much better

Worried about the pairing a bit but the shockingly youthful acid in the wine quelled those fears; the wine and the food remained their delicious selves. Enhancement? A bit here and there. The wine accented the olive oil in the skordalia nicely, like when you have good hummus made with good olive oil and the purity of the olive oil jumps out at you. Nice bridge with the lemon in the chicken and the wine that changed course and brought out the white grapefruit mingling around in the wet stone core of the wine.

Overall, it was only subtle touches here and there in the pairing. Cracked a 2007 Domaine Saint Martin Muscadet ($15 - Binny's) to finish the meal and drink with the salad and some of the green elements in that wine played with the salad in more direct, pleasing ways than with what we got from the Brégeon but the Brégeon's grace and subtlety was a one-of-a-kind in our world.

I want two cases of the Brégeon. It's one of those wines that will become a benchmark for me.

A quick note: Mahi mahi tacos with jalapeño sour cream, Mexican slaw and guacamole served with purple corn sangria (recipe here) a few days ago. I've written about this a few times before (go to the January entry for a full description). Probably a top five meal. A couple of notes. We've found that following the sangria recipe to the letter and using a quality sauvignon blanc is essential (Kim Crawford is ideal in our world). More money but entirely worth the bones. Don't get "look at me!" creative. Recipes are out there for a reason.

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