Back to Basics…Chardonnay & Rotisserie Chicken
Off The Vine
Ok, that might be a bit misleading as the chicken and the Chardonnay we will be eating and drinking are far from basic my friends. I have a new cooking gadget at my house that is the Cuisinart vertical Rotisserie with all of the bells and whistles. So I thought with the hectic month that is October with its new school schedules and getting the kids to soccer practice when is there any time to have a great meal with an outstanding wine? A rotisserie unit takes all of the guesswork out of cooking a chicken to the point where it is almost impossible not to have a moist succulent bird. So we have our organically fed free-range chicken roasting away now all we need is some wine. Chardonnay is the go to wine for this column although you can most certainly have Pinot Noir. But since I write the column we’re going to do it my way.
California Chardonnay has been the Ronald Mcdonald of the white wine world for many years, with its clownish over the top vanilla-buttery-oakey notes that hijack your palate; it makes you want to spit the wine on the table and laugh out loud. Despite its clownish nature at the low-end price range (under $15) There are some hidden gems to be discovered from California. Thankfully my palate was the only victim during this vision quest. I’ll try not to hurt my hand while slapping myself on the back.
What makes Chardonnay so damn buttery with vanilla anyway? Malolactic fermentation. Before your adult A.D.D. kicks in and you scan down to the recipe let me just quickly explain. Malolactic fermentation is when lactic acid bacteria are introduced to the wine, which has natural malic acid which tastes tart like green apples. The lactic acid, which tastes buttery consumes the malic acid. When this process is not done properly you get fat-clownish Chardonnay (Kendall Jackson $13.99) that lacks balance. When it’s done properly you get a beautifully balanced Chardonnay that has the buttery notes balanced with honeysuckle, pear and green apple all kissed with some toasty oak from barrel aging (Wente, Riva Ranch $20.99). While I hate to get too technical as it bores the reader sometimes I just have to do it. Everyone wake-up, stretch and move on.
So that’s the super-abridged Chardonnay lesson. There are some absolutely gorgeous examples of this varietal made throughout the world, specifically the Burgundy region of France where you can spend many hundreds of dollars for one bottle. Alas that is a tale for another day and another recipe.
Some California Chardonnay suggestions:
· Le Lapin, Central Coast California $8.99
· Angeline, Santa Barbara/Sonoma $12.99
· Wente, Morning Fog, Livermore Valley California $13.99
· Wente, Riva Ranch, Arroyo Seco California $20.99
· Newton, Unfiltered, Napa Valley $49.99
· Hendry, Barrel Fermented, Napa Valley $24.99
John Noakes is the Sommelier/Owner of Off the Vine Wines & Spirits in Norwalk CT.
Easy Rotisserie Chicken:
4-5lb Organic Free-Range Chicken Rinsed & dried
· Pre heat Rotisserie to 350 degrees
· Heavily salt the cavity & Add a ¼ tsp of fresh pepper
· Coat the skin with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· ½ tsp Each of Ground Sage, Garlic Powder, Thyme & Rosemary combined & rubbed on the bird
· 2 tsp Lawry’s Season Salt
· ½ tsp fresh pepper
Put the chicken in the rotisserie & roast for about 1hr 15 min. Then check the temperature of the bird.
When done let the chicken stand for at least 10 minutes before carving.
Recipes for side dishes can be found on my website: www.offthevineonline.com